Another year gone and it's time to celebrate, although I have never understood the need to celebrate the passing of the year. I have no idea who decided that the year number should change on the first day of January - or why - but to me the change of date from 31 December 20XX to 1 January 20XY is of no more importance that the change from, say, 17 June to 18 June. It wasn't always so. In my much younger days I worked in a bank and in those days 31 December cast a shadow over all of us bank clerks for several weeks before. That was the date of the annual balance. In the days when we were still using quill pens, well, ball point pens perhaps, ie before computers, there was a lot of work to be done. I won't bore anyone with the details but simply say that there was no chance of finishing work before 10.00pm or later: 11.00pm was nothing unusual. By the time I had got home, washed and changed, the New Year was already upon us so there was little point in going out to celebrate even if I still had the energy (which I suppose I might have done in my youth). By the time the work had been computerised and I could get home early enough to go out on the town I was married with young children.
As well as not partying, I have never been one for making New Year's resolutions. If one is going to do or stop doing something to bring about an improvement in one's life (or the life of somebody else), why wait until the New Year to do it?
The media, rather than looking forward with resolutions, tend to look back at this time of the year at the highs and lows of the previous twelve months. Today also happens to be the last day of the decade (although there are those who think that was a year ago) so it might be appropriate to look back over ten years.
There have certainly been a lot of changes in my life and that of my family during those years. There have been deaths. There was the Boxing Day when my wife's aunt didn't answer the phone. We went into her flat to find her dead in her bed. A few years later my mother died not too long before Christmas. It was a relief as she had gone blind and was in considerable pain from cancer.
There have been marriage break-ups for both my sons. I am thankful that my elder son has now found a new partner with whom he appears to get on very well and my younger son is now very happily married again.
There have been births, all three grandchildren having been born during the decade.
It was quite early in the decade that I retired, something I wish I could have done years before, and I used my commuted pension to buy a cottage in France. The Old Bat and I have had a lot of pleasure from that.
Mention of the Old Bat reminds me of one of the lows of the decade, a continuing low in fact. After a long time trying to ignore the fact that something was wrong, she finally saw a doctor about the problems which were getting worse. Many tests and scans later, the consultant to whom she had been referred announced that he and his colleagues were unable to give a firm diagnosis but they had narrowed the answer to two possible conditions. It was either an obscure form of Parkinson's disease or an equally obscure form of motor neuron disease. Which of the two is entirely academic as there is no treatment for either and both are progressive conditions with much the same symptoms. But she remains remarkably cheerful. The only time she nearly broke down was the day she was told. We had attended a London hospital for further tests and it was as we sat in the car before starting for home that she said, 'It's not going to go away, is it?'. Definitely not something to celebrate.
I do have a minor cause for celebration, though. Today, for the first time this week, I have managed to go upstairs without a twinge. I occasionally suffer a bout of arthritis and one of my legs has been particularly bad this week. Walking the dog has been painful, and I have had to cling onto the handrail when climbing the stairs. But not this morning, a fact for which I am deeply thankful.