Start the year as one means to go on, that’s what I say …  Deadlines?  Who needs them!  Avoid pressure at all costs.  Live organically – on ‘handmade organic food’ (see my future bestseller/mini-series/film for context) – and practise the art of laissez faire.  Did I join some kind of cult or a commune over Christmas, I hear one ask?  Negative.  It’s merely mild hysteria resulting from exhaustion and the gloom which surrounds me outside!  Cold, dark, rainy.  The ‘3’ may have changed to a ‘4’ but that’s about it – Oh, and the fact that I, now, keep getting notifications about George Michael on my phone!  No further proof necessary that we’re all being monitored in a world now bereft of Ken Hutchinson or Hutch to his friends.  Yes, Manny – envoy to the Grim Reaper – delivered the news on Friday, further enhancing my joyous New Year!  Honestly, is there anybody left?  I remember catching the end of the Royal Variety Performance in December and being struck by the roll call of those we lost in 2023; not only the numbers but the fact that so many played such a prominent part in my childhood …  Talk about the sands of time; changing of the guard.  So very poignant.

In my teens, I loved David Soul.  First shown in 1979, Starsky & Hutch was synonymous with Saturday nights.  An hour of gripping television, borne of those gentler times, it was family viewing.  Fast-moving, colourful and exciting, at its heart were two friends who just didn’t function on their own.  Like the closest of brothers, they thrived in each other’s company, would die for each other.  They loved each other, as did the two actors who played them.  The chemistry leapt from the screen, as did their good looks!  The dark-haired funny one and the more sensible blonde who happened to play guitar and have the loveliest voice …  Starsky or Hutch?  Like a litmus test, it was telling which of the two one favoured.  My best friend was Team Starsky, while I was Team Hutch.  Fortuitous.  We never liked the same guy!

Suffice to say, Friday evening saw us serenaded by David Soul, a fitting tribute to the voice of some of the best songs of the Seventies.  Classics which will stand the test of time – actually, almost fifty years on, classics which have stood the test of time!  I think I have mentioned before that I have David Soul’s autograph.  More cherished now, it is on yellow script paper.  Sadly, it was not I who had the pleasure of meeting him but Craig who was at Edinburgh airport to collect a friend, many years ago.  The story goes – please don’t let that be a lie, too, and, in fact, I have the autograph of a baggage handler!!   No, the story goes that Craig – waiting at Arrivals – only realised who it was after he had passed so, called after him, ‘David Soul!’.  ‘Been that all my life, Sir’, came the reply, as he turned and stopped.  With neither paper nor pen to hand, Hutch opened his briefcase and brought out a pad of yellow paper, obligingly writing ‘Tricia – Much Joy, David Soul’.  There are not many who would do that.  A lovely guy.  Thank you, for the memories, the songs – and the joy.

2024 does sound better than 2023.  An even number, for starters.  However, as I wrote previously, there is always a poignancy to a new year; a time of reflection.  Suddenly, Christmas is over.  All the preparation, the build-up, the excitement … the pause.  Life stands still for a couple of weeks as one puts one’s worries aside but, all too soon, it is January and reality hits home.  Dark and cold, loved ones have scattered, once more, and spring seems a long way off.  Who knows what the year may bring?  When I look back on 2023, I think of my trips to Rome: seeing Andrea Bocelli on that glorious mid-summer evening in the shadow of the Baths of Caracalla, Tom Cruise’s hair, smile and sunglasses as he disappeared into The Hassler and our two nights in Naples at the beginning of November, staying in the most amazing hotel – once an ancient monastery – at the top of the hill with wonderful views across the bay to Vesuvius.  As we sat on the terrace and sipped our Limoncello Spritz, it was stunning …  What can I say about Pompeii?  Truly humbling – and nobody could have a better guide than Becca!  She may have exhausted me – forgetting, only, to show me the brothel – but her knowledge is second to none and it is a day which will live in my memory forever.  Ironically, the site of such tragedy is one of the most beautiful, lying in the shadow of the volcano which claimed so many lives and where olive trees abound.  The silence is such that it is almost tangible, the ruins, the history demanding of respect.  A lost city, perhaps, but one which remains vibrant in the wisdom it affords and from which we can learn so much.  I repeat, truly humbling.

The highlights of 2023, surely impossible to match?  Blessed, I am so grateful for them and the memories, to be re-lived many times in the months ahead …  News-wise, all hell is about to break loose as, a few minutes ago, I received an alert on my phone regarding the bombshell Epstein documents claiming the alleged existence of sex tapes starring Clinton, Prince Andrew and Richard Branson!  Classic, or should I say karma!  In the words of Justin Timberlake – heinous as he turned out to be – ‘What goes around comes around’.  A lesson for all – and comforting for those who deserve to be avenged.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch but, for me, Prince Andrew is small fry in comparison to former President Bill Clinton!  Seemingly untouchable, the demise for his crimes has been a long time coming.  As the democrats fall over themselves in a bid to falsify evidence to indict Donald Trump and jail him before he wins another term in office, it may now be that they must look to their own.  Hallelujah!

You can put wings on a pig but that doesn’t make it an eagle.’

Bill Clinton

You said it!

This is Trish, signing off.