​Why?  A question I am forever asking.  A question which is rarely answered.  My day has just spiralled out of control, as ever, and it is now 7.30pm as I sit down to write this.  Why?  Everyone looks forward to Christmas, primarily as it is a time to pause; a time to relax.  Austria – St Wolfgang – was the perfect backdrop but somehow the times one cherishes most seem to adhere to a different clock.  As though on fast-forward, they are gone in a flash making it all the more difficult to return to the daily grind.  The past week seems to have been one of semi-darkness and it becomes all the more difficult to contemplate the months of winter which lie ahead.  Don’t worry, having resolved to abstain from alcohol this morning, I have now just been handed a large gin and tonic – in the words of Coldplay, ‘Up & Up’!
Looking at my notes, that word ‘why’ is, once more, relevant.  Our Christmas week in St Wolfgang began courtesy of Jet2.  Used to the joys of Ryanair, I consider Jet2 the closest I will ever get to travelling First Class – always better to face the worst and then anything else is a bonus!  Anyway, our flight was at a civilized time – mid-afternoon – enabling some semblance of sleep before enduring Becca’s attempt to pack her entire wardrobe into one suitcase.  Tick.  Jet2 has its own area for check-in which is never busy and the staff are friendly, seemingly content to exercise the maximum number of facial muscles.  Tick.  Flexible with suitcase weight, there is no similarity to Ryanair by whom one is discarded for being a nanokilo above the allowance and then required to empty one’s suitcase in an attempt to wear as many items as possible hereby rendering oneself in the image of the Michelin Man in a bid to avoid the extortionate excess charges.  Phew!  One gets the picture. 
So, we were even allowed to walk across the tarmac to the plane …  this was too good to be true?  Don’t be ridiculous.!  Ignore all cynicism and enjoy.  Seated – yes, we had to endure the horrendous Jet2 music but, somehow, the thought of that brandy and ginger ale en route to Salzburg and the snow-capped mountains eased the pain – time to relax.  Unbeknown to us, Sophia was onboard with her parents.  Sophia being a child of approximately 18 months and epitomizing the reason one would choose to have only one!  To be fair, her many charms were totally attributable to her parents whose utter devotion meant they pandered to her every whim thus inflicting on fellow paying travellers the passenger from hell.  Two rows behind us, she disrupted the whole plane crying and screaming constantly when she wasn’t given her own way.  Why?  There is no licence required for parenthood and, sadly, so many are bereft of the skills or desire necessary to raise a child who will be an asset to the human race possessing of all the values that entails.  Confined in a small space, forced to suffer for the ineptitude of others, the brandy and ginger ale helped as I endeavoured to focus on our destination convinced that this experience could not be repeated on our return …
This year, I took with me the latest edition of Scrabble and, returning to our rooms following after-dinner drinks in the bar, we sat round the table each vowing to emerge triumphant.  Simple pleasures requiring the use of one’s grey matter and the interaction with others, all but forgotten following the advent of television.  It was fun and competitive creating memories to add to the store.  That first evening, I was the victor securing the winning score courtesy of the letter ‘Z’ and the word ‘viz’!  Manny was happy to bow to my expertise but Becca, on the other hand, can still be heard muttering the ‘v’ word.  Never took her for a sore loser but … !
Manny took my crown the following evening and then, despite our great enjoyment and vow to play the best of three, we were somehow otherwise distracted.  To be continued but, in the meantime, we were all reminded of how much fun there is to be had in playing good old-fashioned games.  Good to know should that invitation to Christmas at Sandringham ever be forthcoming.
Scribbled on another piece of paper beside me are the words ‘taxi driver’.  Why?  For some reason, there was great hilarity whilst playing Scrabble as the offspring discussed the pros and cons of my employment as one and the same.  It actually was quite funny as we pictured the scenarios: my refusal to drive down certain roads or frequent certain parts of Edinburgh, my abhorrence of everything stag or hen related including Tiger Lily, its little green men and, actually, most of George Street; my sometime lack of filter and propensity for divulging everything to complete strangers; my enthusiasm in the self-promotion of Trish-Trash and, in fact, almost everything else!  Discerning in the extreme, I would have to scour the streets in search of tweed jackets, barbours, chinos and desert boots, once an everyday sight in the Edinburgh of old.  Ah, well, entertaining it may be but I’d be lucky to earn enough for a gin and tonic.  Back to the drawing board.
Actually, back to Sophia and justification for my opening with the word ‘why?’ …  All too soon, the idyll was over for another year.  Time to return to reality, courtesy of Jet2 once more, with our photographs and memories – cue Jim Croce and a song I love.  I digress.  The day of departure is never one I relish.  Packing up, vacating one’s room and a place of temporary refuge from life and its problems, one must, once again, endure the cattle truck which is public transport its many misgivings heightened by the prospect of returning to reality.  Of course, I had the sign – which has now become customary – but, this year, we were in plenty of time for boarding requiring of no special bus to transport us from terminal to plane.  Despite a tangible mood of despondence, we went through the required motions and were seated ready to leave Salzburg and Austria.  Near the front of the plane, I suddenly remembered Sophia and commented on the fact that, thank goodness, there was no sign.  Well, if there is a God, he certainly has a sense of humour because, at that very moment, I looked across the aisle and there she was – she and her parents were directly opposite us in the same row!  Now, there are how many passengers, how many rows on a plane and she had to be on ours!  Once again, I ask ‘why?’.  Perhaps I should give further consideration to being regressed in an effort to ascertain just exactly what crime I was guilty of in a former life …  I’m a little worried that I believe in re-incarnation!
Well, the glass is empty and 2019 beckons.  We, each, lit candles for Pop in the beautiful church in St Wolfgang …  I continue to hear his voice of calm.  This is going to be a momentous year for us, three, but with courage and with his humour, ‘we fight on!’.
‘We cannot choose to have a life free of hurt.  But we can choose to be free, to escape the past, no matter what befalls us, and to embrace the possible.  I invite you to make the choice to be free.’
The Choice, Edith Eger.
This is Trish, signing off.