Friday, December 26, 2003

Festive joy

Well, yesterday was grey (green if you're looking on the bright side) day, with a couple of deep red roses still in full bloom in the garden. And so mild that if it weren't also so wet, I'd've felt compelled to go out and mow the lawn which still hasn't stopped growing. I did have to haul more leaves out of the pond, and rake others off the lawn today, as well as topping up the bird feeders, and putting out the trash for tomorrow's collection.

As usual, we started the holiday Wednesday evening with a 5 course dinner with college friends - soup, fish, sorbet, traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings (ham, sausages in bacon, cranberry sauce, potatoes, parsnips, broccoli) , and pudding ablaze with brandy - and more in the brandy butter, mints and coffee (but none of the Chablis, Côtes de Rhone or Tokay as I was driving - chiz), which went in leisurely fashion until gone midnight. Then the obligatory visit to the in-laws - which would be better if it didn't involve driving M11, M25, A2 - I dislike motorway driving at the best of times, the M11 is the most boring road on this part of the planet, while the M25 is just nasty, and at dark they're both worse, even with only holiday traffic (while I'm doing a nice fuel efficient just under 60mph, there are flashy motors streaming past at at least 30mph above that); and of necessity again dry.

This year, through the magic of, I'd already put a wish list in place, which could be communicated to those who are not on-line, so there was only one shirt in an extreme plum purple fine grain corduroy (really!), and a couple chocolate bars (not being a chocolate eater) that I had to grin and accept - and the usual festive food basket containing a fair amount of normal plain Indian leaf tea (something I rarely drink - an occasional cup of something spicy and exotic after a cold autumn's session in the garden, perhaps - maybe half a dozen times a year, and even then not much more than scalded in the water, so most of the tannins are left in the leaf), which can be passed on. Now I just have to organise the obligatory visit to my parents, maybe catch up with the brother who may only live a few miles down the road, but whose news I usually catch up with from his website.

It was amusing to note that of the wish-list items, the Revengers Tragedy DVD, Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver, and Alastair Reynold's Absolution Gap and the second series of The Water Margin turned up, but no-one contaminated their own accounts with any of the anime or manga items...

Spent today reading Absolution Gap and not doing a lot else (especially, not doing eating, since I'm still waiting to feel hungry again after the last two days). I'd guessed after Redemption Ark that there would be two more volumes in this cycle, not one - and there was indeed a lot of material skipped between the last chapter and the epilogue which finessed the overall ending. Endings are always difficult as the resolution can never be as transformative to the reader as to the characters. In cases like this, where the story has grappled with things that affect the entire human race, and with big events happening on screen, endings that focus down just on a handful of characters and how their parts in the story turn out, where the camera pulls back from the battered, bloody, but unbowed protagonists and fades to black with all the mopping up still left to do, just leave me with a sense of anticlimax.

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