I realised this morning that we have been back in Greater Manchester for precisely three weeks since our last trip to Portugal and Spain. It feels like much longer. Time is very strange, the way it plays tricks on you, speeding up and slowing down at will - at time's will, never at yours!
Some of this is because since we came back I seem not to have stopped. And I have, of course, organised and hosted Christmas during that time. And there it is, another Christmas over and done with. Lots of family get-togethers have taken place and copious amounts of eating and drinking has gone on. Some of the best meals have been those where everyone turned up with a contribution to the feast. Apart from a serious superfluity of hummus last night, this has worked very well. But now I think it is time for a little abstinence ... once we get New Year's Eve out of the way.
Our son and his little family set off at the crack of dawn this morning to return to London, hoping to get underway before the latest storm hits. Frank is the name of this one. I am not sure why they suddenly feel the need to name storms but the custom seems to be established now. So far, mid morning, we have had lots of wind but no more rain as yet. Rain there has been aplenty in the last week or so. Our bit of the river Tame was overflowing the other day, lapping at the doors of one of the pubs and flooding the band club.
And yet, we have got off lightly. Places like Rochdale, not very far from here, have had far greater problems. This has not prevented television news reporting our village as flooded. The other morning I posted one of my blue-sky pictures after my run and a friend commented on the lack of flood. He had heard it on the news and thought we were under water.
According to the writer and environmental activist George Monbiot, no-one should be surprised at the flooding that has taken place and is continuing to take place. Here is a link to one of his excellent rants, not just about how flooding could be prevented, or at least minimised, but also about how farmers have actually received subsidies to carry out the kind of drainage work that makes flooding more likely.
The worst of the weather continues to threaten the north of the British Isles. This does not prevent the tiny island of Easdale, in the Inner Hebrides, from advertising for people to go and live there. They really want settlers to help enlarge their little community. Here is a link to a video about the island. I am sure it is a lovely place to live ... when the weather is good, or even when the weather is simply acceptable and it is not suffering the effects of Storm Eva or Storm Frank or whichever one follows them. However, I think we will choose to remain in places where the weather is not quite so extreme.
One of the gifts I received for Christmas was a book called "The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren". My copy was printed in 1960 and was sold at the time for 35 shillings, rather a lot of money back then. It is, as the title suggests, an investigation into the games children play and the things children say, including their belief that they could charm warts away and could levitate their schoolmates. The writers at the time suspected that children were discarding some of their traditional games in favour radio, television and cinema. I wonder what they would make of today's children with their iPods, iPads, computer game systems and so on! But this book is a study of my childhood and full of fascinating stuff.
Here's one example. A friend of mine on Facebook always posts "Pinch, punch!" on the first of every month. My book tells me that the full version is, "A pinch and a punch for the first of the month". Done in person, rather than digitally, it is accompanied by a pinch and a punch. Well, of course! The correct response is, "A pinch and a kick for being so quick". I must remember this on New Year's morning.
Even better is the matter of blowing raspberries, a favourite occupation of our smallest grandchild. Apparently it started off as a "raspberry tart", rhyming slang for breaking wind. (Work it out!!!) The tart has disappeared, as has the association with bad smells but we continue to blow raspberries.
There you go!