Not sure why this has stuck in my memory.
I guess being back at work for a week is a milestone of sorts and makes you look back at the Christmas interlude with fondness and see it as a thing entire to itself. An ideal and an idyll. A little island of warm safety in the midst of a cold sea. A mnemonic antidote to the cruel, cold, credit crunch period that is now lying ahead of us naked and war-like, without the consolation of Christmas to offset its callous advance.
Despite my natural curmudgeonliness Christmas was good. Despite Tom being ill on Christmas Eve... Despite Ben having an asthma attack on New Year’s Eve and having to be taken to the local hospital in the neighbour’s car as ours refused to start... And despite Tom getting an eye infection on New Year’s Day that made his left eye swell up like a golf ball...
Yes despite all this Christmas was good. Cool pressies. Decent TV. Lego. A fab array of new DVD’s to choose from. Fantastic food. Quality family time. And a 10 day break from work.
But what sticks in my mind most of all is a lone walk I made to Sainsbury’s on New Year’s Day to pick up a prescription for Ben. Sainsbury’s wouldn’t necessarily have been my destination of choice except that it was New Year’s Day and they were the only place open.
Nothing momentous happened. I didn’t experience an epiphany or see coloured lights in the sky or get invited to a party by a semi naked Keeley Hawes.
The last of the daylight was leaving the sky. There was a grey blue fog over the outskirts of Leamington and yet the sky above was clear enough to see the pale start of a few early stars. I took a shortcut over some wasteland in the middle of The Shires industrial estate. There was very little traffic. I was surrounded on all sides by the strangely quiet behemoths of warehouses and out of town distribution centres. All their lights off. The car parks empty. Their thin miles of wire fencing locked tight and secure.
All industry shutdown for the day. Everybody at home. Or disappeared completely. It was easy walking through that blue darkness to imagine myself the only person left in the world.
All of this will I give to you; just bow down and worship me...
And then into Sainsbury’s. A pleasantly muted shopping experience. Just a few hardcore purchasers searching out a few post Christmas bargains. Half empty aisles. The ghost of Christmas humming carols to itself over the tannoys. Cut price chocolates. Half price toys. I had a punt. Got New Year’s Day pressies for the kids and for Karen while I was there. Got something for myself too. Why not? Start the year with a treat.
Checked out. Paid for my goods. The world seemed normal and yet not normal. Quietened. It was nice. I found myself half wishing it could always be like this. The panic and fury gone from people. The rush and the haste eradicated.
And then back home across the wasteland. Getting annoyed every time the headlights of a passing car illumined the road and the hedgerows ahead of me as they spoiled the illusion that I was the last man left on the planet. An oddly reassuring fantasy as I knew that it just wasn’t true and there was a loving family and a warn fire waiting for me at the end of my journey.
And that was it really.
Writing it all down above I feel like I should have been moving the piece towards some sort of earth shattering denouement, shaping it, moulding it with some final revelation in mind. But there just wasn’t one.
There wasn’t one.
And I’m still not sure why it has stuck in my memory... but I’m very happy that it’s there.
I’ll carry it with me for a little while longer.