23.20 on a New Years Eve – the phone rings. It’s the next door cottage neighbour and his close pal, the two of them talkative beyond measure, a former publican, and a management consultant, happily reunited for the evening, and whilst now feasibly heading towards their dotage, still a pair of too busy schoolboys at heart. “Shall we come round?” A loud knock on the door follows. Already happily drunk, our unexpected musketeers arrive, beneath an ice cold clear sky of stars, Orion’s belt twinkling above. Living room warm, Christmas tree busily covered with decorations and baubles, the marzipaned and iced cake, a prize from the end of term school fair, makes a welcome appearance; to RuralDad’s delight, so does an 18 year old Talisker, from a worn gardening jacket pocket.
Rather later on, well into the new year, a now very dear elderly neighbour decides its time for home. Society accepts, with some sense of foreboding, that the occasional teenager will grace a casualty department door in the early hours of a new year, rather the worse for the demon drink; near 80 year olds are another matter. Our once-soldier, gnarled, still strong as an ox, and weighty, stands, wobbles, and with a cheerful grin, falls flat on his face. Head seemingly still okay, we realise, as I rescue my slipper from under his thigh with a too firm prod, and resultant moan, its the wobbly hip that is the potential issue. Torches in hand, arms around shoulder and back, RuralDad half carries half drags the once welcome visitor home, avoids fumbling for keys in sticky pockets, and pushes the home comer up his stairs, and on to his bed. When feet are raised, said neighbour falls backwards, to be enveloped by his duvet. As an ear is kept cocked for thuds and bumps, all stays well. Within minutes, a deep snore resonates though the old cottage and when checked upon by torchlight beam, a long balding head can be seen half emerging from the duvet cover. Dogs guard either side of their master, eyes twinkling, noses kept low, paws, RuralDad suspects, over their ears.
RuralDad relaxes in his neighbour’s parlour, toes towards a roaring fire, still in good company, with much to discuss, and hears how his now remaining pal of the evening, himself a late emerging author, is due to be translated into Chinese; In contrast, RuralDad sighs to himself, if one reader finds RuralDad’s budding Blog, it will seem a miracle. 4am new years day, Orion twinkles still, did an owl hoot?, as RuralDad plods a higgledy piggledy happy way home across the frozen muddy farmyard. The gift of too many Speyside and Hebridean single malts to taste, may not have been quite what the Doctor would have ordered, but they seemed a worthy challenge, a positive omen, and a good way to toast the future. What though will the new year bring?
A New Year, a new start – roast goose from the farmyard for dinner to celebrate – many hours preparation, 3 large jars of white, firm, surely healthy fat (for the tatties) a side product, back aching. If the cold chill of a now long wet winter remains, the prospect of smothering RuralDads torso in goose fat to survive becomes a distinct possibility.
A too sore head, still making its presence known late on January 1st, delays the much awaited? launch of ‘North by Southwest: A British journey’. The goose too was roasted a day late; budding cooks, trying to help SHE, should realise a goose takes some 4 hours to cook alone; getting Delia out of her stocking at 15.00 was, in hindsight, a little too laid back an approach. Was said goose wild? – it may well have been livid, if still plodding around the yard, reflecting on its fate. Too many whiskies have led to a perhaps daft decision – the webablog goes formally live. ‘Slainte’ – good health world.