It’s a new year. I’m not about to say happy. Nor am I about to make any predictions about how this year will be better than the last. I’ve been caught out by that before. I think what I’d like to wish you all is more peace in yourselves and a lot of whatever gets you through the day/week/month. That seems fair.
I don’t really make resolutions. I certainly don’t make any to do with diet or giving things up. I don’t really believe in giving things up and I really don’t care how fat or thin someone is. I threw my scales away last year and now work on the principle that if I can get my jeans done up, everything is fine. I have to confess after two weeks of constant grazing they’re a little on the tight side, but it’s nothing that can’t be solved by staying away from the cheese drawer in the fridge for a bit.
There are some things I’d like to do in 2017, so I thought I’d stick them down here so that this time next year I can see how many of them I ignored in favour of doing something else.
I’ve decided that I’m keeping up with the family history stuff this year. It soothes me. I like piecing together the stories. I like unknotting little mysteries or filling in blanks or finding out something I didn’t know. Yesterday, for example, my mum told me about how my great uncle Albert shot down a zeppelin using a rifle whilst patrolling the beaches of Norfolk during World War II. I have no idea if this is true or not, but it’s a great story and it’s going in the family tree. It certainly sounds eccentric enough for Albert, who when he was in hospital for the last time, got a very gentle form of dementia which involved him having an imaginary rabbit living on the end of his bed.
I’m doing the tree on Ancestry, which is a great, if somewhat easy to bugger up tool. What I might do as I go along, is write a few blog posts about some of the things that don’t always fit the forms on Ancestry so that the memories don’t evaporate. I realise that family trees get less interesting the further back you go, as people’s stories and characters fade and there’s nothing to hang onto but dreary birth and death dates. It’s the social stuff that brings people alive and that’s what I want to focus on this year.
One of the other things I think I might like to use the blog for this year is to write about Leicester. I realise, as I chart the family tree, that both sides of my family are inextricably entwined in this city. I’m probably related to every other person I pass on the street here, and just like family fades as time takes them away, so do the streets they live on and the places they inhabit as builders and developers move in. Leicester used to have the strap line: ‘Leicester it’s not far from anywhere else’. That’s very true, and for a long time one of the only decent things about the city was how easy it was to go to those other places where more interesting things were happening, but in recent years it’s developed a bit more of a buzz, and it seems a shame not to celebrate that. In the immortal lines of a Twitter feed I follow. ‘Lestah. It’s not that shit.’
So along with the usual campaigning and railing and day to day detritus of my life, I plan to do both these things. Whether they will happen or not, I have no idea. But it’s nice to have a plan.