Welcome to 2017 and the first post of the new year. This is my traditional Janus-like post where I look back upon the year just gone and the one that lies before us.
At the beginning of the year I hoped that 2016 would be a little more boring after the emotional earthquakes of the previous few years, and especially 2015 and the passing of Granddad. However 2016 seemed to up the ante! I have lost friends and relatives; I have had good friends hospitalized, diagnosed with cancer and suffer heart attacks; the world has lost a seemingly high number of celebrities and then there was the twin punch of Trump and Brexit. This is ignoring the atrocities in Syria, the terrorist attacks around the world, the genocide happening in South Sudan and the news that a gorilla was shot and killed.
I personally thought that the referendum result in June was a sad day for our proud nation only for that political result to be out-Trumped in November across the pond. I will ignore the left-leaning liberal in me screaming for a political rant about Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, for this isn’t a political blog, this is the story of my family so I will raise a glass or two to friends that I have lost this year and offer my support to friends whose bodies have rebelled against them and who are struggling with the ravages of disease and I will leave history to map out whether the populist votes of 2016 have serious consequences for the future of my country, in general and the future of my family in particular.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
It is probably a sign of getting old that my heroes are beginning to die off. This may be in part due to the fact that they are the generation above me and thus have reached the age where the grim reaper comes knocking, especially coupled with the substance abuse that many of them indulged in for most of their lives. It may also be in part to the fact that there are an increasing number of celebrities and thus the number of deaths maybe increasing but the percentage of dying celebrities is remaining static. It could also be in part to greater reporting of celebrity deaths and the public mourning on social media, that raises the awareness of each and every passing. It is probably all that and more, however the ‘calibre’ of the celebrities that have died and some of their relatively young ages has been surprising.
There has been some discussion as to whether it is right that we mourn for celebrities, for they are people that we have never met. But just because we have never met them doesn’t mean that they are not a part of our lives. Consider the people that we do know, and whose funerals that we go to. We only ever know we only know a facet of them, the facet that they chose to share with us. How many of us have been to a funeral and realised there was more to the person that we appreciated. Now celebrities may be the author of the book, or the character in the film or the singer of a song but they are no less a part of our lives than the postman or the butcher or the colleague you have lunch with. Their influence can shape us just as much as our interactions with real people. The music of David Bowie, George Michael and Prince (and his world saving purply music) have been the soundtrack to various points in my life. Gene Wilder and Caroline Ahern have made me laugh. While Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia has felt like someone I know. I would like to think that Princess Leia has influenced a generation (or two) of girls by demonstrating that princesses do not have to wait for the knight in shining armour to rescue them (although that does happen at the start of A New Hope), she can grab a blaster, shoot a storm trooper, kill Jabba the Hut with her bare hands while wearing a gold bikini and generally be an equal in a male orientated genre. Come on, she is the daughter of Darth Vader and the mother of Kylo Ren and has never turned to the dark side, now that is a role model!
Let us get back to the reason for this website: our family. In comparison to global news events within Bagnall Manor have been relatively quiet. Éowyn completed her Key Stage 1 and her SATS; Amélie completed her first year of education and Ezra grew from a toddler to a young boy. The girls have begun swimming lessons and although neither are strong swimmers, both have plenty of confidence in the water and enjoy playing in the pool, which is a good foundation. Lucinda’s childminding business has had highs and lows and at my place of employment, UHD, IP delivery and remote production have reared their ugly heads while my department has grown by taking on more staff as the number of channels I look after has increased. Personally, I have settled into my new shift pattern which has freed up more weekends (I now only work one weekend in three) to spend with the family realign the work/life balance.
Ezra has acquired a new scar, which we hope will fade, after having an argument with the coffee table and losing. Nevertheless, he was extremely brave while being treated by the nurse at the walk-in clinic. He was equally as brave when he had his pre-school booster injections; obviously it hurt but he didn’t cry and scream the place down like Éowyn did all those years ago.
Amélie has probably had the biggest medical issue of the year however, although nothing too invasive. She has been diagnosed with a lazy left eye which has been caused by myopia (short-sightedness) in that eye. She has been prescribed corrective lenses (or lens, the right eye is perfectly normal) and we wait to find out at the end of January whether she will need patch therapy. Either way, she will be a glasses wearer like her parents.
2016 has been the year of Bagnall holidays. Two trips to Dorset, Eurocamp in Italy, a Cottage in the Lake District, a weekend away in Bath with my old university friends and their offspring and not forgetting a trip to the Arctic Circle and the home of Santa Claus. The Baguettes have been truly spoilt this year. Lucinda and I feel it is much better for the Baguettes to have memories than things, however they do not go shy there either. After my friend Fabian and his family paid us a visit just before Christmas a trip to Seychelles is now forefront of the girls’ minds. I doubt that will happen in 2017 (not without a lottery win) but perhaps one for the year after.
So what will 2017 bring for us?
There will be the continued progress of Amélie’s eye and whether she needs to begin right eye occlusion (patch therapy), but probably the biggest event that we definitely know will happen is the fact that Ezra, the youngest of our children, will begin his education journey; starting Reception in September. All three of our children will then be in full time education – that makes one feel old. But not as old as the fact that Lucinda and I will celebrate ten years of marriage!
No doubt there will be holidays (we have at least one booked already) and stories (with photos) and all of this will be transmitted to you my dear readers through the medium of this website, which if I can find enough time will receive its, long overdue, facelift. There I have said it; I now have to do it. Will you notice any difference?
One fact that I leave you with today: 2016 not only feels like a long year it was the longest year of my life. The reason being that not only was it a leap year and thus 366 days long; the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service determined that since the Earth’s rotation is slowing down then we needed an additional leap second (the 27th since their introduction in 1972) at the end of the year. Making 2016, 366 days and 1 second long. I believe that the longest year in the modern era was 1972, the year before I was born, for it was a leap year and there were 2 leap seconds added that year, one at the end of June and one at the end of December. However, 1972 pales in comparison with the longest year in history: 46BC which was 445 days long. You can bore your mates with that one.
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions (if you have to wait until the turn of the year to change yourself then it isn’t going to happen, it should be an ongoing challenge) but if you want 2017 to be your year:
Don’t sit on the sofa and wait for it. Go out. Make a change. Smile more. Be excited. Do new things. Throw away what you’ve been cluttering. Unfollow negative people on social media. Go to bed early. Wake up early. Be fierce. Don’t gossip. Show more gratitude. Do things that challenge you. Be brave.
Above all, be glad you stand at the threshold of a new year with a world of possibilities ahead of you, because you are still alive, even if you have had to wait an extra second for 2017.
Peace and Love
Baggie, Lucinda, Éowyn, Amélie and Ezra