A quick look at Facebook reveals that it was October 22nd when I first mentioned the impending C word and November 19th when I faced my own demons on it.
For anyone who has lost someone, Christmas is a huge hurdle to get over for the first year and, I’m pretty sure I’m about to discover, for every Yuletide season after that. The truth is though the whole of Christmas looms in the rear-view mirror like a pursuit car in a drama; every day following a death, it gets a little closer, giving you a frisson of horror and a small warning of what you’ll have to face even if, like Gail’s, the passing is in the summer.
For Gail and I the fact of the matter was simple, Christmas was our time of year. We first got together then, and every year was a celebration of that; not so much the gift-giving and fun of the day itself though, but rather that long build-up that seems to get longer each year. We tried to cram as many Christmas related things as we could into December with the culmination on Christmas Eve – OUR day – and one we celebrated as best we could every year.
It was October 22nd that I saw the first Christmas lights on in Westfield, Stratford but November 19th when I got a reminder of a purely Blagg-related Christmas phenomenon; the Christmas song. In this case it was one to have great resonance.
As you’ll see in a later post, for some years I had run a blog called the Advent Calendar of Christmas Songs. Every day a different Christmas song – some good, some bad, most obscure, – for the whole of December up until the 25th. Over the years, this had garnered some fans and I knew the question was coming up, could I possibly do it for another year? Or, indeed, ever again. In fact, did I want to? It was November 19th that I first heard the song that was to define my Christmas (along with one other).
On 22nd I posted:
Well, I’ve had a number of people ask me if I’m going to do it again this year and the straight answer is ‘I simply don’t know if I can or I want to’. With just five days to go, I’m leaning towards carrying on as I already have a list of songs I can use without even investigating further, but I really don’t know if, once started, I’ll be able to finish it.
Gail and I first (ahem!) ‘got together’ at Christmas – I first told her I loved her at High Wycombe station under the clock (eat your heart out Celia Johnson & Trevor Howard) on Christmas Eve 1987 – and we always loved the season and made sure we crammed as much as we could into the weeks leading up to the time itself. Not having her here this year is going to be pain I’m not sure I can handle.
I could string some line here – ‘Gail would have wanted me to carry on’ type of thing – but our relationship was far more complex than that, and Gail’s attitude to the lunacy that used to invade Blagg Acres from November onwards was always met with that ambivalence a lot of women have for their menfolk’s interests – from “Who knows what the hell he’s doing? It keeps him out of my way at least” at one end and a kind of begrudging pride / respect at the other ‘You know there’s a lot of people all over the world who actually read his stuff’.
I’d already set the Advent Calendar blog page up last year and, if nothing else, you can use the links on the side bar to investigate the existing twelve blogs. There will undoubtedly be a poignant post for Gail added surely, beyond that though, we’ll see how it goes….
Again I was heartened not only by comments on social media but also from followers on my football-related sites. The general feeling, if I could sum up was, ‘we’ll understand if you don’t do it but we’d love it if you did and, perhaps, you might get something from it too’. By December 1st my mind was made-up to at least start it and see where it took me.