Done it again!  It’s after five-o’clock and this is me just firing up.  No excuses, really, although my future best-seller/mini-series did happen to be open on my screen and, thus, I ended up adding further genius to that!  Fifty-seven thousand, five hundred words, to date, and Chapter Fourteen, I think.  My time has not been wasted!  In addition, I have been sending audio files to my friend, Shona, only to leave her hanging as I pen (poetic licence) the next instalment.  That said, she is familiar with the plot!  Anyway, focus.  It may be that, subconsciously, I always start writing around now, inspired by the thought of my gin at six …  Thankfully, Becca will be back from Rome soon and, once more in situ as my butler.  I won’t even have to move and my glass will be replenished.  So much to look forward to!

Thank God for that because, in the words of the late, great Rikki Fulton – Rikki Fulton (Too young?  No excuse, look him up!) – ‘It’s been a helluva week!’.  A favourite every Hogmanay, I have substituted ‘week’ for ‘year’, although, let’s face it, both apply!  Meantime, I defy anyone to watch the old clips of Rikki Fulton without laughing, sarcasm oozing from every pore.  The wonderful Glasgow drole, forever incongruous with the serious demeanour.  I can still see – and hear – Pop, sitting in his chair in the Morning Room, in absolute hysterics.  Makes me smile.  The two had a lot in common, actually.  Same age, same sarcastic humour, Glasgow born and bred.  Actually, wonder if it’s too late to order a Rikki Fulton DVD?   Could all do with some cheering up …

Talking of which, back to my ‘helluva week’!  Tuesday was supposed to be my visit to the hairdresser – in Edinburgh – after eight weeks.  That’s two whole months and my hair has always grown like wildfire.  Suffice to say, I went before my last visit to Rome at the end of October and then decided to hold out until mid-December.  Always one to save money, that’s me!  Perhaps it’s a blessing, then, that the car failed its MOT and, apparently, will be lucky to make it home for Christmas.  Driving Home for Christmas?  Not even funny …  Suffice to say, save braving public transport (the bus runs hourly, I believe, every other week – I jest, a little!), I am somewhat housebound.  Walk?  Yes, of course, I could if I wasn’t bothered about putting my Christmas tree up, or seeing 2024!  No, a driver is definitely what I need/desire … and the coveted Wrangler?  True.  Would he (of course, he would be a ‘he’) be allowed to drive my Wrangler?  Exactly.  Well,  when circumstances require but, in the meantime, he could double as my butler (oh, joy!), chef and chief washer-upper – to be continued.

I seem to have verged off-piste, as ever.  Rewind to Tuesday morning …  Having booked my train – and prepared, mentally, for fraternising with the public, albeit in First Class – I happened to notice a voicemail on my phone: my hair appointment was cancelled.  Bianca was sick.  The weird thing is, I was expecting that message.  I have the power …  Thankfully, I also have another appointment for next week but, understandably, things are a little desperate now.  Nine weeks is only three weeks off three months; a quarter of a year!  One has certain standards to maintain.  Help!  Granted, they have slipped of late but still.  Anyway, as ‘luck’ would have it – and, as I explained – I have been grounded.  Small mercies.

Disasters never occur in twos.  The third one, then?  The dishwasher – hence the need for the driver/butler/chef to be multi-talented!  Now, the luxury of a dishwasher cannot be under-estimated, nor should it be withdrawn.  Admittedly, this dishwasher – now over twenty years old – has been stoic in the extreme but, treated with love and respect, there is no reason to give up the ghost now.  It’s Christmas, for goodness sake.  Becca uses one glass per hour, minimum!  I am, though, clinging to a glimmer of hope.  Said dishwasher has been in intensive care before and recovered.  In truth, we switched it on and off at the mains and sponged the water out from the hole.  Don’t ask, just pray!

So, here I am, living the dream in this world of darkness.  Seriously, feel as though I haven’t seen daylight for weeks.  I can’t say months as I was in Rome in November.  Talking of which, Becca sent me a photo of the eternal city today.  Would have been nice if she had afforded me prior warning that sunglasses may be required in the process!  The deep blue of the clear sky and the brightness …  I forwarded it to Manny in Edinburgh and he sent me his view from the office.  Made me laugh.  Talk about depressing!  Typical Edinburgh tenements, from the back, on a bleak, miserable, dark December morning.  Juxtaposing the two photographs, it does beggar the question of lobotomy.  Yes, yes, I imagine one is not allowed to say that …

Grounded, have I written my cards yet?  Negative.  Have I wrapped my presents?  Don’t be ridiculous!  Who does that before midnight on Christmas Eve?!  In my long years, sadly, I have come across several of the afflicted and it does seem that the numbers are growing.  For my part, I do believe it says a lot about the character of those who are so regimented, sucking all the fun and spontaneity from the build-up.  Come on, there’s nothing quite like being up a ladder, putting the finishing touches to the tree (real), in the dying embers of Christmas Eve, several tipples down.  Oh, and all to the accompaniment of Wham, the Bublé and Nat, to name but a few.  Happy days!  I may have mentioned before that, in years gone by – on Christmas Eve – my mother used to retrieve present after present from the tumble drier cupboard in the Morning Room and chuck them at us with instruction to wrap – our own included – while she spectated, brandy in hand.  To be honest, we, all, had a brandy in hand!  Perhaps I should add that we had reached adulthood by this stage.  Unnecessary, given the brandy?   Maybe not.  Same mother who walked a pony through our house!  How lucky was I?

People are taking more pictures now than ever before.  Billions of ’em.  But, there’s no slides, no prints.  They’re just data, electronic dust.  Years from now, when they dig us up, there won’t be any pictures to find.  No record of who we were, how we lived.’

Ben Ryder’ (played by Ed Harris), a famous photojournalist in the 2017 film, Kodachrome.

Wow!  Manny sent me that clip from the film.  So prophetic.  So true and exactly what I have been saying for years!  Which leads me on to a joint project Manny and I have been working on for a while.  A nod to the past, when values and standards meant something.  To those with a creative mind … let’s rewind.  I give you Portraits &  Please take a look. (I did create a hyperlink, making it easier, but technology at its best, it wouldn’t let me ‘paste’!)  Oh well, let the fingers do the talking … or walking!

This is Trish, signing off.