1. Early spring. Glorious day. At Sheffield, under Roland. It was that mini-wonder Little Ford Man’s third birthday celebration at the Newling abode. It’s an abode forever on the march to the beat of renovation and improvement. Each time it’s visited, there’s a new project on the go – LFM’s parents are marvels and my, what they’ve achieved! And the little people were having a ball on this day – running themselves into the ground with the excitement of it all. For most of the day Tessa Tiger was in the thick of it. There was a lull and she took time out. She wandered across the lawn, lost in a reverie of imagination such that only a three year (and some) old can conjure up. I sauntered across to join her, she took my hand and guided me to the fence-line, pointing to her favourites of the very fetching, to her sensibilities, blooms to be found there. Then quietly, almost imperceptibly, came the song. I listened hard to hear what it was. Quietly, breathily she was singing the chorus to Josh Ritter’s paean to the banishment of winter, ‘Snow is Gone’ –
Hello blackbird, hello starling
Winter’s over, be my darling
It’s been a long time coming
But now the snow is gone –
she trilled. It was small picture – but perfect small picture. Not earth-shattering, but in my dotage, if I remember nothing else at all from all the magic moments that little girl has given me in 2015, I’d be completely content just recalling that single episode and dwelling on it. It would be enough. The perfect moment in the perfect place. Her small hand in mine. Just love.
2. And then, not long after – the best of 2015’s big pictures. Suddenly he was gone – and now, if he’d only shut up and disappear completely. He was ridded by his own ilk – his own party. Even they eventually came to the conclusion most of us had figured out from the get-go of his unfortunate prime ministership. All the nonsense about Team Australia and captain’s calls, shirt-fronting and onion eating. the man was an embarrassment. Supposedly a man of faith, there was little that was Christian in many of his policies and those of his like-minded yesterday’s men – only men – he surrounded himself with. There was one divisive exception and she wasn’t even elected. He was an abomination, leading our country away from the welcoming decency that had once been our by-word for the decades after we banished White Australia. If Turnbull can prise himself away from his commitments to get the job, I have some hopes for him, although those yesterday’s men are still lingering there on his side of politics. But now, with some gifted women in cabinet, it all seems somehow softer – hopefully it will turn out to be a far cry from the mean-spirited reign of a man who should never have been let loose on our country.
3. It has been a tough twelve months for my beautiful lady since the tendon in her wrist snapped on Boxing Day last year. In discomfort always and often there’s a layer of pain as well on top to cope with. Despite medications and procedures culminating in an operation yet to prove successful, she continues to battle through, as positive and as good humoured – her hallmarks – as it is possible to be. I love her dearly – and now admire her even more, if that’s possible.
4. My home away from home these days seems to be Bridport. Although the missing of Leigh is palpable each moment, I’m content there in the sunny big house overlooking Anderson Bay, with its quietude and birdsong. It is so welcoming. I am only too happy to decamp anytime as Rich and his wonderful intended have adventures in the other hemisphere, on the big island or more locally. Oscar and Memphis fill my days with their unconditional canine devotion. Leopold controls my nights with his very conditional feline condescension. Such a fine place to be is Briddy – people who nod, smile and wish a good morning as I perambulate down the hill for my papers, the sparkling sea and a winter warmth emanating from the firebox. The only other place I could see myself permanently.
5. First came the three-peat and as we turn the corner into ’16, the aim’ll be a fourthorn. These are great days for the brown and gold – and with all that’s gone awry in the last twelve months in the world, at least we still have the salve that is sport to celebrate. I continue to avoid the stress my team playing confers, but there’s still the pride.
6. I have little truck with horse-racing or James Bond movies. That a female jockey can win the former and a fifty something woman, older than the hero, can play a love interest of 007 is something of significance, isn’t it?
7. I didn’t know him. Not really, I didn’t. I worked with him for years but I couldn’t get close to him. Closeness wasn’t for work colleagues. And now he’s gone. I’ll always thank him for what he did for my writerly and gorgeous daughter. Kate regards him as her best teacher, the one who had the greatest impact in steering her towards her calling. And he knew this, both from Kate and myself – and it chuffed him. I’m pleased about that. And another went this year whom I felt I really knew, although we never met. You see, he was a columnist for my favoured daily. He examined himself in print, brought us into his world and all the vicissitudes he was experiencing with a life that hadn’t gone perfectly. In the last months, before his leaving, I’d thought he’d lost his mojo as far as his weekly epistles were concerned. It was almost as if he was erecting a barrier between us, the reader and himself. The openness had gone. Then that last Sunday he was back on song, riffing away with his musings, telling something of the bliss of fatherhood, be it unshared with his former partner. Then, suddenly, Sam de Brito was no more. The Sunday Age isn’t the same.
8. My enduring mother is still as kind and caring as ever. She gives so much with her generosity of spirit.
9. She up there beyond the silver lining is still looking out for Jimmy Bx2, Willie N, Archie R, John P, Neil Y and Eric C, amongst other aging luminaries. Hopefully She’ll continue to see them remain ‘forever young’ throughout 2016.
10. The kindest of men came visiting from across the Strait and spent some time gracing us with his presence. Brynner, aka LFM, came calling too and owned all he surveyed.
11. The State Cinema, JBs, Fullers, the smiling blonde princess developing my images at city Harvey Norman, a bright sparkly new Myer, the welcoming of Tiger at Nicolatte, the cheap cards at the Hobart Book Shop – all give me cause to bless my luck in living so close to this vibrant little city.
12. No journeys off the island this year, but plans are afoot for ’16. There were a few journeys to within, but all in all, considering I have a life with a woman I adore and with people I love around, close and not so close, it all gives lustre to my world. Being alive is such joy.