Another year begins and if any of the apocalytophiliacs are correct it will see the end of the world.  Pure poppycock but judging by the amount of books generated, television programmes produced and even films directed there are a lot of people out there who believe it.  For any of you that don’t know what I am talking about apparently the world will end around the winter solstice this year (2012).

What is this based on?  Well apparently the winter solstice 2012 marks the conclusion of a b’ak’tun (the 13th – which is probably why many Westerners have such an easy time believing something bad will happen), a time period in the Mesoamerican long count calendar equivalent to 5,125 years, (in truth the precise end of this b’ak’tun is in dispute as it is not a precise art to deduce when the b’ak’tun began).  So the Maya believed that this would mark the end of the world?  No.  There is no suggestion that they even viewed this more momentously than the turn of a year.  So where has the ‘Mayan 2012’ prophecy industry germinated from?  Probably it says more about our own Western Apocalyptic view of the world, with a Newtonian view of time as an arrow without any understanding of the meaning of time to the Maya or comprehension of their culture.

Maybe I am being a little dismissive.  There is one stele in the relatively obscure provincial town of Tortuguero that mentions (it is the only mention) of the end of the 13th pik (b’ak’tun) unfortunately there is a large chunk of it missing and so anything that anyone infers from the remaining words is open to a large dollop of conjecture.  If you actually read peer-reviewed translations of the stele, you get a completely different picture to most airport paperbacks. ‘[On] will happen, the witnessing/attending of the display of Bolon Yokté in the great impersonation (envelopment in costume and regalia).‘  For me this is reminiscent of a more contemporary source: ‘Say, say, two thousand, zero, zero party over oops, out of time.  So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s nineteen ninety nine.‘  Now Prince could be a time travelling Maya from the planet Nibiru come to save the world with his purply music (and if anyone sees a book on that in their local shop – that was my idea!) or perhaps you will still need to buy Christmas presents this year.

If you need any more convincing then there are many inscriptions mentioning future events and commemorations that would occur on dates beyond the completion of the 13th b’ak’tun.  On the west panel at the Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque refers to the 21st October 4772 A.D. another at Coba gives an impossible date that is 41 octillion years in the future (this date is 2 quintillion times the current estimate for the age of the universe).  So let us not get dewy-eyed over the infallibility of Maya prophecies and hope that the 1000 or so (I wonder if there are as many as 2012) eschatologists that have written about the 2012 apocalypse have put enough of their savings away to see them into their old age.  Then again, they maybe correct and if they are then there will be no one around to tell me ‘I told you so!’  Win/win for me then.

So what will 2012 bring for this little enclave of the Bagnall family? And what have we taken from 2011?

2011 has been an interesting year (and not in the Chinese curse kind of a way) we have adjusted to being a family of four.  We have learnt all about milk-protein intolerance.  We have survived the terrible twos (for the first time) and we have discovered the beauty of a Merlin Pass and the joys of Peppa Pig and Peppa Pig world.  We are still in the process of adapting to the four of us being in different places at the same time.  Which usually means Lucinda getting up at the crack of dawn to start her shift at the airport, then me getting the girls up and dropping one off at the childminder’s and the other at pre-school before heading into work.  With Lucinda doing the opposite after working her shift to pick them up and get an evening meal ready for when I arrive home (unless it is a late one for me, then Lucinda has to put them to bed).  It is something that countless other families do up and down the country and I, now, struggle to understand the amount of hours I must have wasted when I was single or when it was just Lucinda and me.  The amount that we (have to) manage to squeeze into a day (although we always need more time) is significantly more than before we had kids and it feels like work and chores tend to just get in the way.

We have also learned that no two children are the same – even (and some might say, especially) sisters.  Éowyn was much more forward than Amélie, crawling and walking much earlier than her younger sister.  Now this could be that Amélie had a bad start, for her milk protein intolerance wasn’t diagnosed very early (although much earlier than some – thanks once again to Kate our Health Visitor) and those first few months must have been agony for our little one.  For when every meal that you have is causing you so much pain that it prevents you from sleeping however the urge to eat overwhelms the memory that food will cause you pain, the last thing you feel like doing is exploring this evil place.  Then once this condition is recognised and now you can enjoy your food, Mum and Dad have the kitchen ripped out, followed by the flooring in the lounge and dining room so there is nowhere for you to practise your crawling.  Plus, what is the point in wasting valuable energy for all you have to do is cry and an attentive big sister will go and find something to entertain you.

Amélie is far more laid back than her sister and has never been as clingy as Éowyn was, and to some extent still is.  Whether this is because Éowyn had our undivided attention as she was exploring the world, while Amélie has always had to share us.  Or whether it is just as parents, we are more laid back with the experience of three or so years under our belts and subconsciously that relaxation is felt by our youngest.  Or maybe it is just in the genes perhaps we will see as she develops over the coming year.

The other major lesson learned in 2011 was how to diet.  Lucinda joined Slimming World and as a dutiful husband I agreed to support her with her dieting and so did the same regime.  However, the competitive side of my nature took over (which has actually been good for both of us) and we have lost nearly 6 stone (84lbs/ 38kgs) between us!  That is impressive in anyone’s book.  It has meant that we have both had to buy new wardrobes (clothes – not actual wardrobes that would just be silly).  So if you haven’t seen us in a while you might not recognise our new svelte figures.

So what can we expect from 2012?

Obviously, the macro-economic situation is going to dominate the news and global events and one hopes that it doesn’t have a direct affect on one’s own personal economic situation.  But that notwithstanding (and to be honest there is not a lot I can personally do about the possible breakup of the Eurozone and the unravelling of the debt mountain that the world finds itself in) it will (hopefully) be business as usual in the Bagnall household.  Éowyn will move to 3 days a week at pre-school at the start of the year and we may be thinking of introducing Amélie to pre-school at the end of the year.  We will be testing Amélie’s cow’s milk protein intolerance early in the New Year and hopefully she will have grown out of it, or we need to be prepared to accept it for longer (if not life).

Éowyn keeps asking about going on a ‘plane again and so we may pluck up the courage and take two toddlers on a plane.  It is not necessarily the act of taking them on a ‘plane; it is more the paraphernalia that one has to take on such a trip.  It also makes it all very expensive, with 4 tickets, something we are just going to have to get used to I suppose.  Interestingly, this year Lucinda and I will have been married for 5 years, which is traditionally celebrated with a wooden gift however the modern travel anniversary present is airline tickets so maybe it is a sign that we should pay a visit to Heathrow Airport (it is just round the corner after all).

A little personal project I have set up has been given its own website.  Baggies Projects will be a forum for me to explore a couple of things that I have been meaning to do for some time.  Now I am not saying that there will be useful insights, or even far reaching conclusions that will change your life when you read this new website.  That is not what it is about.  It is simply a channel (project zero if you like) for me to explore some of things that often crop up and are never allowed to bear fruit.  Some may develop and warrant a website all of their own, others may wither and die a forlorn (but public) death but at least they will all be given the same opportunity to flower.  Hopefully it may even inspire some of you to do the same.  Then again, Strictly-come-X-factor-in-the-jungle is on.

If, for any reason, either this website or Baggies Projects have inspired you to start your own website then may I recommend WP hosting as a medium for your projects.  They offer a simple one-stop shop for all your website needs.  Register your domain, WordPress install and hosting in one simple place.  Think it is too complicated then they can help too, either directly or with many self help tutorials on their support pages.  So go on, it’s 2012 what are you waiting for?  If I can do it…

So all it leaves me to do, it wish you all a Happy New Year and paraphrasing a traditional Irish Blessing: ‘May the 2012 bring the warmth of a home and hearth to you, the cheer and goodwill of friends to you and the hope of a childlike heart to you.

Peace and Love

The Bagnall Family

Happy New Year from the Bagnalls
Happy New Year from the Bagnalls