Just a short one today, folks. I’m posting this from a little pub in Rotterdam (as the ship internet isn’t working at all at the moment, and even when it was, it was terrible) but I have to head off in a second so I’ll keep it brief!
I took a few photos of Christmas on the ship, mostly for family to see – you can find them here. I’ve spent the last few minutes trying to find a decent plugin to embed the images directly into the post from Flickr, but it’s a bit late now. Another time!
It’s the 29th of December today, and our contract finishes on the 6th January – I’ve got to say, this is the first contract I’ve done where I’ll be quite glad for it to finish. Nothing personal, it’s a fun gig – but I’ve been gigging solidly every single day since November 3rd (with one day off, which was Boxing Day), and had two weeks off before that after a month-long Scandinavia tour, and then had 45 days previous to that on a boat – so whilst I’m very glad to be busy, I’ll enjoy the time off!
I’ll be home by the 7th, and then on the 9th I’m flying out to Germany to visit some relatives of mine (who I haven’t seen in waaaay too long). I get back on the 16th and I leave literally the next day for France to visit my dad and stepmum. Then I’ve got a few days off and then back up to Newcastle to spend the entire of February on a boat again!
Hope you’ve all had a cracking Christmas! Mine was a bit strange – it didn’t feel particularly Christmassy, which was a shame. I still had a good time, but it was as though the Christmas atmosphere that I love wasn’t really there. I’ll sort it next year!
PS: I’m attaching a tiny excerpt from a book I’ve been reading lately, by the autistic genius savant Daniel Tammet – absolutely incredible human being, and well worth checking out if you don’t know his story. The book is called Thinking in Numbers, and I’ve been reading it on my phone in-between sets during the gigs. I found a passage in there which really moved me and totally summarised the way I feel about winter, and copied it out for a friend of mine to read. I’m attaching it below.
If you don’t know why I consider myself a “winter” person as opposed to a “summer” person, I hope this’ll give you a small insight as to why I love it so much! Daniel’s prose here is absolutely spot-on and flows beautifully. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
THINKING OF NUMBERS (excerpt)
“My friends take me on a trek through the nearby forest. The flakes are falling intermittently now; above our heads, patches of the sky show blue. Sunlight glistens on the hillocks of snow. We tread slowly, rhythmically, across the deep and shifting surfaces, which squirm and squeak under our boots.
Whenever snow falls, people look at things and suddenly see them. Lamp posts and doorsteps and tree stumps and telephone lines take on a whole new aspect. We notice what they are, and not simply what they represent. Their curves, angles, repetitions, command our attention. Visitors to the forest stop and stare at the geometry of branches, of fences, of trisecting paths. They shake their heads in silent admiration.
A voice somewhere says the river Hull has frozen over. I disguise my excitement as a question. “Shall we go?” I ask my friends. For where there is ice, there will inevitably dance ice skaters, and where there are ice skaters, there will be laughter and light-heartedness, and stalls selling hot pastries and spiced wine. We go.
The frozen river brims with action; parkas pirouette, wet dogs give chase and customers line up in queues. The air smells of cinnamon. Everywhere, the snow is on people’s lips: it serves as the icebreaker for every conversation. Nobody stands still as they are talking: they shift their weight from leg to leg, and stamp their feet, wiggle their noses and exaggerate their blinks.
The flakes fall heavier now. They whirl and rustle in the wind. Everyone seems in thrall to the tumbling snowflakes. Human noises evaporate: nobody moves. Nothing is indifferent to its touch. New worlds appear and disappear, leaving their prints upon our imagination. Snow comes to earth and forms snow lamp posts, snow trees, snow cars, snowmen.
What would it be like, a world without snow? I cannot imagine such a place. It would be like a world devoid of numbers. Every snowflake, unique as every number, tells us something about complexity. Perhaps that is why we will never tire of its wonder.”
– Daniel Tammet