All hail for Black Sheep’s New Year address
Did we all have ourselves a merry little Christmas? Of course we did; it was little. And we drank too much.
But I must tell you, people of my flock… In this hour of darkness, I have seen the light. And it wasn’t the dodgy tree lights flickering to their own tune, either.
Without the family and the friends, the Boxing Day crowds and the New Year’s Eve parties, time stood still this Yuletide. And I don’t know about you, but it forced me to stop. To slow to a grinding halt, in a chair, in fact, looking out over the garden as the afternoon dimmed.
I was reading a Sunday paper. Not on a Sunday. And I suddenly stopped reading. The low sun kissing the hills was lending a warm, chromatic hue to the snow on the fields below. Yes, snow. At Christmas (I knew my last missive would dare the weather gods). Not deep and crisp and even. But a covering.
Sheltered from the elements by the apple tree in the garden, happy verdant grass swooned to the last of the sun’s rays, while above, birds perched in the twiggy nakedness, patiently waiting their turn on the bird feeders a few yards from our window.
The glory of a woodpecker joined the frenzy of blue tits and robins. Further away, but very much in view, a buzzard swooped to take up position atop the telephone mast, where he would sit proudly in surveillance of the adjacent farmland for the next ten minutes or so.
It’s a draughty room, our garden room, where I’d taken up my own position some twenty minutes earlier. But the hushed stillness of the day ensured little in the way of cool invading air.
Beside me, on the window sill, sat a glass of Prosecco. Another one. And I had chocolate to hand, too. Out of nowhere, life was strangely… yes, good.
To the other side of me, even this year’s poinsettia had decided to keep hold of its velvety blood-red leaves, rather than scatter them to the ground in the teenage strop at the not-quite perfect conditions this diva of a plant is normally prone to in our house.
Elsewhere around the room, Christmas cards extended greetings in defiance of the year we’d all endured. And in my lap, the newspaper proclaimed an end to the Brexit bickering. And not one, but now two vaccines.
In the lounge Mrs Sheep snoozed with the hound on the sofa, the afternoon’s walk taking its slumbering effect on both, while back outside, the pale, cloudless sky was becoming a night-nearing cobalt-blue as the sun slowly slipped away. All was, indeed, calm.
It was a moment to savour, in a year to forget. A moment that seemed so far away in the spring when the stats grew scarier with every newscast. A moment that tantalised us in the summer, only to evade us at the last as we locked down again in the autumn. A moment that seemed lost forever when Christmas was ‘cancelled’.
Yet now here it was. A special moment, hand-delivered by the simple chance alignment of life. A time to trap the spark and thank our lucky stars, of which several were now gathering in the darkening sky.
And it occurred to me, in that moment, that if the year 2020 is somehow able to dig deep and deliver such delight from the pits of despair, then there can always be hope. Hope that, in the words of the indomitable Captain Tom, tomorrow will be a good day.
Keep the faith everyone. It’s going to be okay.