This hurtling year crashed to its conclusion amidst a welter of car problems, last-minute work deadlines, large cheques outgoing, in-laws and daughters incoming, and all the coruscant cornucopia of Christmas. We had continuing problems getting our Jeep mended, after the computer program for the dashboard controls failed and took the transmission system with it, and with no help from the utterly useless Jeep company, I bought a nearly new Volkswagen from a neighbor and grimly arranged for the Jeep’s disposal. The story is far too complicated to describe in gear-crunching detail, so devotees of the conversational gambit of cars and their repairs must use their imagination. But I can tell you the upshot is that we have ended the year with three cars instead of one.
Over 30 of Gwen’s friends turned up for her birthday disco party in our house and the expected trail of damage was limited, rather curiously, to two broken mirrors. For her birthday on the 12th, she received as presents a long-desired camera, several CDs, a new mirror and just over half the contents of the global One Direction illustrated branded gift catalogue (the rest of it came for Christmas). We had the traditional street party on the 15th, where we gossiped about absent neighbors and the intentions of the three or four mechanical diggers parked in various front gardens along the road, including ours. I am having the nether end of the garden walled and terraced with aesthetically pleasing grey concrete blocks. Alli is doubtful but I am on a mission, given that our new neighbors will shortly build their house next door.
Just after a major amount of snow had both fallen and melted, Jessie and Ella arrived from England from their respective universities. It was a great (and still slightly unusual) feeling to have the family all together again for a few weeks, and the girls, who have each had a good social and academic year, soon reminded me of their tendency to gather in slumped fashion on the already low-slung sofa and watch day-time television while checking their emails, skyping their friends, tweeting and flickring through Tumblr and vice versa. But I did see some holiday work done as well.. I went with Sam Hall and two of his friends from Glasgow University to the Mulhouse Christmas market which was as Christmas-fuelled as ever (vin chaud and hot cider with calvados), and to the dreilanderecke installation in Basel by the Rhein where three countries meet. We also went with several friends to the Comedy Club to see Loretta Maine and Mike Monahan from the UK. In the front seats, I was again picked on by the performers. “Your name’s Lionel? Are you a tour guide?”. We have Al Murray, the pub landlord, coming next month and I shall therefore be sitting at the back.
Jessie and I went to the open day of a Basel tattoo parlour and whilst there I bought some promising Jura wine from an organic producer, who delivered it promptly before Christmas. I was also kindly received by the Richards to watch West Ham on TV on two Sundays in a row (I am too mean to pay for Sky myself) but the team’s performances then and since argue against the initiative.
Christmas was enriched by the visit of my parents-in-law, and the season skipped by with many card and board games, merriment and refreshment, a dinner at the Lion d’Or, re-arranged spontaneously after we turned up at a swanky restaurant which had no record of our booking (I think a lorry-driver’s caff by the same name in the nearby town did). On Boxing Day we had friends around for lunch who by talking liberally and eating sparingly left us with more food than ever in the larder. Regardless, we visited Leymen’s debutant restaurant in an experience that left Alli lost for words. I’m sure it will improve. As if by contrition, I am tonight returning to the oven in a one-off comeback to cook the New Year’s Eve dinner
I wish you all a very happy and healthy year. Please send me a message if you do not wish to keep receiving this monthly missive, or do not wish to be on our Christmas card list, or both. Regrettably, this option is not open to relatives, be they solis or sanguinis.
Bonnie, Christmas 2012, photo by Jessie Stanbrook