We are already into 2023, so I thought I would (with the tentative humility of a well-travelled, half German, half British woman of mixed European heritage) appropriate the Chinese New Year greeting instead, as we head into that colourful festival. I challenge anyone to disagree: red lanterns, dancing lion-dragons and hot and sour noodle soups are a fantastic way to face the most miserable couple of months in our calendar.
The other day I passed a house in my neighbourhood with its tree decorated specifically to celebrate this occasion, which put me in an East Asian frame of mind to such an extent that I carried on walking further east (so to speak) to my local Japanese cafe, (who incidentally do not celebrate the lunar year in the Chinese way, but they do acknowledge it), and wolfed down teriyaki salmon, miso soup and pickles with green tea. And somehow, at the tiny price they charged, life had a moment in which it became worth living.
Having survived an Odyssean journey (yes, I am being melodramatic) through Covid, followed by a nastier flu that engulfed my mind, nose, lungs, bones, muscles and soul, leaving in its wake an irritating cough and sinus issues, I must say that it is no surprise that I am glad Christmas is behind us. Not to mention the permanent anxiety I suffer from the constant threat of strikes within our public services. As someone who passed her driving test on a third attempt, but never bought a car, I rely heavily on trains to be able to visit my parents in West Sussex. No can do with train strikes. Oh, well, at least in an emergency, my ancient parents will be alright with the NHS. No can do. Nurses’ , Ambulances’, Paramedics’ strikes. AND I DON’T BLAME THEM.
Nurses, carers, paramedics, doctors and firefighters have been undervalued for years. Train drivers too are asking for respect regarding driving vast hordes of people back and forth, re, for instance, the company’s “money saving ” idea of only having one person to drive the train with no assistance. They do not do that in airplanes, why should it be acceptable in trains? They are right to object. I would.
These public service workers are the heroic lubricants of our entire civilisation engine, and if we continue to wrongly ignore them, the machinery will come to a halt. However, we have a government who is rendering everyone, even the sillier members of the royal family, (not that I care) to end up suffering from mental illness, anxiety and depression. Why? Because nobody listens. They are like the Wizard of Oz. They think that the best medicine would be compulsory Maths lessons for all. It is not unlike a doctor suggesting that a person with terminal cancer goes for a brisk walk. That’ll sort it, Rishi.
A better idea might be to use those auditory orifices on either side of the head and allow the messages that are heard to transmit to the brain where a considered answer might be formulated. Perhaps, crazy, I know, a reply to the those who are striking with suggested dates to talk and hear. To actually imagine what it is like to have their roles and their pay and make decisions accordingly. Listening. Hmmmm. There’s a lost art.
So in between dealing with my anger at having no control in this unsatisfactory environment, my own quandary about not having any suitable offerings of acting roles for a woman of my (ahem) particular age range has been equally tricky.
Slightly compounded by works round the back and front of neighbours’ abodes, the writing over the last few months has proven harder. However, recently I read out my latest revisions of my second novel to the Captain the other day and he seemed impressed. I am a quarter way in and have established its “Tipping Point” which nowadays is an essential ingredient to hold the reader, and it may just work. I also spent the last three months before Christmas attending a film script writing class, and the beginning of my latest project has brought back some very positive feedback from my tutor, so I will eventually continue with that. I have entered my first novel into a competition and my play into another competition, so I’ve bought my artistic lottery tickets.
Meanwhile, the Captain has been working in a state of stress and joy to produce his first British feature film, with star names and the like. I have assisted in subtle sorts of ways. The filming is done, which, during the weather freeze and travel strikes, became a challenge, but he got the funding and pulled it off, so now it enters the editing, foley and sound stage, during which festivals and marketing come into play as well.
So Kung Hei Fat Choy, everybody. Wishing you all great joy, wealth and success against the odds in 2023.