Custard Resolutions

Three words for the new year: veganism isn’t likely. Not with a start like this.

Lisbon’s famous Pastéis de Belém didn’t fall short of expectations. The street-long queues we walked by yesterday were nowhere to be seen at five minutes past eight in the morning, and I was in there like a shot. It’s just as well our bedroom is literally a hundred metres from the Pastéis de Belém shop. It made that eight a.m. start all the easier. The Despacito alarm was off within four seconds (which, coincidentally, is a great choice for an alarm, since you grow to hate most alarms anyway). I’m normally shamefully bad at taking an interest at things that other people enthuse about, but Bella’s been burning my ear with this particular subject for a while now, and I’m not one to turn down a challenge. Not one that comes filled with warm custard, anyway.

It’s New Year’s Eve here in Lisbon. One and a half hours to go until midnight. The only sounds outside are the occasional early firework, the distant whine of sirens and the low hum of the underground every so often. The table in our hotel room on which I write is cluttered with a variety of treasures and trinkets to ring in the new year: a couple of Fringe flyers from our show this summer; a photo of my mother as an eleven year-old Brownie; my teaching pad; some choreography directions for my Marvin Gaye arrangement; Mary’s letter; my Word-of-the-Day cards (featuring chthonic, morganatic and vespertilian); and, of course, my blue-and-gold notebook, entering its second year. I wonder how much of it I’ll have managed to fill by this time next year?

How to sum up what has been a singularly significant year? I suppose the word All-Star wouldn’t be out of place. And no, I’m not talking about the Smash Mouth memes that were so rife at the start of the year. If my life were a series of films, 2017 was the one where they throw in a host of famous faces to revive a slump in the ratings. Biff turned up again and again like the lucky coin he has always been, from Durham and Edinburgh to Olvera and Ronda. Archie and Viresh appeared in Seville, and Tasha and Miguel were waiting for my return in the spring and in the autumn. I heard from dear Lucy and Emily at last. Mary came shining back into my life and made me smile with her kindness all through December. Collinson and Simmons were there in Scotland to fill me in on years of stories. Teddy and Mina were there at home to wave Maddy goodbye. And then there was that time I ran into Kate at Newcastle Central Station – twice – or the time Aisha drove me to Durham, or the last time any of us saw brave Emmanuel…

In those films filled with famous cameos, there tends to be a supporting cast of new faces, and the brightest of these isn’t always the one you suspect. Except, in this case, she was, and now I’m spending New Year’s Eve with a wonderful little lady who has brought so much light into my life for the best part of a year.

In life, you tend to find whatever it was you were looking for when you stop looking for it. Life’s funny like that. Alright, so it wasn’t exactly the philosophy by which the Portuguese explorers found the way to India, but if it’s a Lego brick, a form that needs signing, or even a loving partner, these things have a funny way of surprising you right when you throw your hands up in the air and throw a Samuel L. Jackson line.

2017 has been a fantastic year. The very best of years. It’ll be a tough one to top, that’s for sure. And the way things stand, who knows what the future holds? When 2017 dawned fresh from Trump’s election, a lot of folks thought the end times were nigh. I stand where I stood before, with some of the same suspicions. War will come, perhaps soon, and we won’t be all that ready when it does. But I’m confident that, whatever the next few months, or even years, will bring, the future will be bright. How can it not be, with so many bright lights shining in my life? That’s what I believe. Hope lies in the little things that people say and do. It just takes a little extra effort every day. I could do with putting in a little more of that, myself. And that’s as good a New Year’s Resolution as I’ve ever had.

All the best in the New Year, compañeros míos. I hope it’s as good to you as this year was to me. Boa sorte. BB x

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