Well, another year has come and gone, and with it, as always, an opportunity arises for me to reflect upon the old year, its good and not-so-good, and to have a bit of fun, at the expense of a few mates, young and old, here and there.
The highlights of 2022 have undoubtedly been the marriage of our daughter Sasha to Christian, her long-time partner, and more recently, the birth of our granddaughter Nina Rose. Walking Sasha down the aisle was a long-held ambition, and though it was only a few steps for the two of us, it was an emotional, reflective journey, a treasure, and a privilege. And now we have Nina to treasure as well.
She is her parent’s daughter, intelligent, if not yet articulate, and is blessed with my appetite, and her other Grandad, Les’s, looks. Ah well... And as for the Grannies, well Norma and Lena are the perfect support team, there when they are needed, with all the love in the world. Nina, watching you grow in 2023 is something we will all appreciate, and I know you will grow out of crying every time you look at me, or at least, I hope you do.
I generally have a ‘pop’ at a few of my buddies so Vishal, my Sultanate domiciled doctor, and the man I always referred to first when I wanted to put off meeting my maker. Ferrari fanatic, Indian cricket supporter and friend, I hope you are managing to keep yourself looking sharp? You will be doing your own car washes and laundry, of course, eating lots of salads and fruit, going to the gym regularly of course? I do miss our regular therapy sessions, and I’ll never forget your wisest words: “Though an apple a day keeps the doctor away, if you’re sweet and cute don’t eat the fruit!
The lycra-clad lads, Bernie, in Oman, and Andrew, now in Saudi Arabia, cyclists, who don the colours daily and cycle fifty kilometres, just to cycle back! I dunno about you, but just going, to come back, even if sweat is fat crying, has very debatable merit. And worse, they are not alone... Sczepan in Poland, Dave in America, Si in Bahrain, and others... are all at it! Butt powered by ass, not gas, trying to stave off middle-age through cycling, it’s a chronic bike-riding disorder, you’re cycopathic!
Oh, and Andrew, he’s always on the Internet buying bike stuff... but harbours an irrational fear that if anything happens to him, his wife will sell all his bike stuff for what he said he paid for it. Come to think of it... Bernie has a garage full of stuff, and he probably has similar reservations.
Speaking of sport, the Black Ferns won the Women’s World Cup in front of 47,000 fans, Argentina probably deserved to win the football World Cup, Newcastle have got pursed up, England’s women won the Euros, Ronaldo took a hike, Hamilton went winless, Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield raised a fortune for charity, Bazball has reinvigorated cricket, and Oman qualified for the T20 World Cup, but on the downside, Scottish rugby icon Doddie Weir, Lester Piggot and Shane Warne were among those gone too soon.
Absent friends and family, whether now lost to us, or just distant, always make the New Year a challenge for a few moments, so I tend to draw them all together, to imagine, see, and hear them... it does pull on the emotional heartstrings, but for me, some quiet, and some tears, are a small price to pay for cherished memories. So, losing Queen Elizabeth was sad, but it means she has great company with Noel, Dawn, Gayleen, Steven, and young Conor, rest well all of you.
To the hard-working teams at the University of Nizwa, the Bahla Training Institute, and the UTC South Durham, keep up the good work. To distant families and friends including Sue, Dave, and the wider family, Roy, Denise and all the whanau, Kevin, Kathy, Barry, Denise, and all the Golden Oldies, Khalfan, Sulieman, Ali, Nadia, Nastia, Vika, Anieta, Olga, Solia and Alex, and of course Abdullah, Samuel, and the Observer family, and the many others, may you all be blessed with a happy and prosperous 2023.