I greeted my lovely neighbour at the door this morning with the words, “who has died now?” She responded, “would you like to come for drinks tonight?” But it does rather feel that way, doesn’t it? Here we are, almost at the end of the this mind boggling year that has been 2016 and yet it hasn’t stopped. Three adored celebrities in the last 3 days alone, two well before their time. George Michael (53!) Carrie Fisher (60!) and her heart-broken mother, Debbie Reynolds. Obviously, 2016 intends to shock until the end. But then, she did start as she meant to go on, taking David Bowie on 10 January and then….well, go on she certainly did! Alan Rickman, Prince, Muhammed Ali, oh, I don’t need to do “the list” for you. That is what the internet/social media is for.
But slamming the door on 2016 and shouting “Good Riddance” doesn’t really end anything. In fact, so so many of the troubling things 2016 brought us are going to have to be actually dealt with in 2017, Article 50 and the Trump presidency to name but two. And to get through these and all the rest, we may need to take the (hard) lesson 2016 gave us and start out the way we mean to continue…and go on. Follow it through. Whatever that is. “Start as you mean to go on,” one of those really annoying pieces of advice that parents and teachers like to give students at the beginning of an school year, and irritating friends work into a clichéd wedding speech. And yet…..how often do we carry through our intentions? Probably not nearly often enough. But living sometimes gets in the way of life’s plans and we have to let things go. But maybe, just maybe, 2016 has used shocking tactics to tell us all to give it a go. Stick to it. Even if it is something small. Something we can hold on to when 2017 takes a dark turn.
I told you last year that I am not one for New Year’s Resolutions. And I am not advocating that, we can only do what we can do, afterall. But maybe we can all resolve to find a little corner of happiness and cling on to it, to take the example of 2016 and turn it on its head. Start with something twinkly and keep on keeping on. So what will mine be? London of course. London, London and more London. What is there left to do???? Loads and loads. My children gave me a beautiful big book called London Uncovered: 60 Unusual Places to Explore, by Mark Daly and Peter Dazeley, for Christmas. Filled with gorgeous photos of places I have been but not yet written about, places I keep meaning to visit, and (oh the excitement) places I haven’t heard of. Shall I dip in here and there? Or make my way methodically entry after entry in order. Or maybe…yes, a bit of catch up. Regent’s Park! The Frieze Sculpture Park in Regent’s Park. I have been trying to get to this since early October!!! I love sculpture. In parks. In London. At the almost end of the year. Work by Lynn Chadwick, Barry Flanagan, Jean Dubuffet, Zeng Fanzhi, Conrad Shawcross and more…wow.
As I was strolling through Regent’s Park, today, 29 December, 2016, with my culture-mad, youngest child, gazing at art in the winter sunshine, I remembered something else that 2016 taught us. That life is short and sometimes death comes much much too soon. We shouldn’t wait to tell people how much we love them. So I am adding love, more and more and more love to 2017. London and love. And poetry. I am really going to give it a try (I have been promising this for years.) I found a website of famous poems read by famous people. I have been listening to one a day. And today I got this one. By William Butler Yeats. A Drinking Song.
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.
Given how the day (year) has been and the musings of my mind, it is perfect. London, love, poetry and wine. Come on 2017, give me what you’ve got. Happy New Year. xxxx