Its Chrissstttmmasssss…..

Thanks Noddy Holder & your timely reminder every half hour on the wireless! Oh yes its that time of year when we all seem to need 29 hours in a day to be able to get everything done. All trying to buy the perfect present for our loved ones, learn from King Jamie & Queen Delia how to cook the pefect bird (no lads not that kind), make the perfect roasties (part roast then squash down gently with a masher to get maximum surface area to roast on high heat), concoct the best cocktail, wrap half of Amazons warehouse (wrap tip – use the ironing board as a table it’s the right height so no bad backs), get to the gym, and see everyone you know in the space of 3 weekends.  Despite all of that I bloomin love Christmas!!!
It’s going to be a little different this year. I dont have to get on a plane with half of Tescos Christmas selection (one year I actually took a Turkey), I don’t have to watch Dads Army or Christmas Corrie (I probably will though, its a tradition), I can watch the Snowman without Dad laughing at the absurdity of a grown woman crying at the end, i get to spend more time with my friends and get some rest. Well maybe not that last bit. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but at the moment it feels strange.
I’ve kept the traditions of the Clarke family going – large tree, after eights ready for sitting under the table to scoff so no one sees me (I was 4 at the time, not drunk but hey I’ll just keep going on that one), Champagne for brekkie (all holiday days including weekends), tea by the gallon, vast amounts of buffet food just because its allowed & in every shop I dare to go to, and a bloody good time with special people. That’s how Mum and Dad brought me up – to love it. Xmas is the best time of year and that will never change even without them. Xmas was almost perfect as a kid, well they messed up the Santa bit. Or should I say my Grandad did.
Nan & Grandad loved Xmas. They used to stay with us for the holiday. Grandad took pride in cooking the Turkey and would stay up all night to make it perfect for us. Problem with that was he knocked back Santas whiskey (I put out milk & a carrot, Mum persuaded me to go whiskey & mince pies which I argued would not help Santas waist line- even at age 6 I was a bit opinionated) & was subsequently a little merry, but somehow it was ok as Grandad could pass for Santa. Or Captain Birds Eye…..
Dad was mid ‘operation present drop’ into my room, when Grandad yelled up the stairs half cut to my Nan “Joan wheres my clean trousers”. Funnily enough I woke up only to see Dad putting my presents at the end of my bed complete with Paddington Duvet (original not the current scarey one) while Mum shoved my head into the pillow like some bloody kidnap training. Aged 6. I was always a bit suspicious of Santa since then….. Great Whiskey lover though!
I am blessed wnough to be spending Christmas with some very special friends, who have held me up through the last few years & have kept me sane. I’m so humbled by their kindness at such a time of year, & Im thoroughly looking forward to a great Christmas. We all take for granted those around us all year, but for a few days & in the words of Jerry Springer (my Dads hero, except Kylie) “be nice to yourself and each other”.
Right, time to have another glass of fizz, eat a lot of quality street (stop nicking the Purple Ones team), dance to a bit of Wham (Last Christmas of course), snog someone I shouldn’t & spend the next day eating bacon sandwiches and laughing at the exploits of the night- yes Its Christmas alright!!!!!   No driving or standing near a naked flame for me for at least the next fortnight…..
I hope you all have a fabulous time, go and thoroughly enjoy it – lifes a short one, so party on!!
Now, wheres that mistletoe & wine………

Time to say so long, farewell……..

Hey there, sorry I’ve not blogged sooner its all been a bit hectic!

So whats happened since we last chatted?
Well, I am slowly getting back to the work stuff. And when i say slowly I really mean it. It has been extremely tiring and at times really tough to get through a day, but all of my team & peeps in the Insurance world are taking good care of me. Its a funny place sometimes, and we all run around like maniacs meeting targets & deadlines, entertaining Clients, as well as ourselves occasionally. Its high pressure, big numbers, difficult situations that need quick decisions and a diplomatic hand (don’t laugh, I can be diplomatic sometimes). There are moments when I do wonder why I do this for a living as I am sure we all do, especially at the tricky & full on times, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Why? The people. Its like a mini family. We argue, sulk, then we make up (usually over a drink). But when times are tricky they are all there for you. Even when they don’t realise they are giving you a lift, they are.
Its been a tough fortnight on the home front. Tiredness is half the battle. Im a bit of a perfectionist (yes, I know thats a surprise to you all!) and I am getting really annoyed with myself for not being on top of my game right now. I am my harshest critic.
The other half of the battle and the toughest thing is the sale of my Mum & Dads house. I really didn’t think it would be such a wrench, but it has been. This week I flew to Spain for 2 days to check the house over, finalise the paperwork, clean it (Mum would kill me if it wasn’t spotless!) & hand over the keys to the lovely new owners who are starting a new life in Spain together-just as my parents did. That bit I am glad of. Why should that bother me? Let me explain.
Mum & Dad lived on an urbanisation where there is a real sense of community. When Mum died, the community suffered. They had lost 2 friends in Mum & Jean that night, both killed outright in the crash. Two husbands were left grief stricken, and although the community tried to help them, they couldn’t. Life was never the same for that community.
When Dad died it brought up all the emotions again for them all. They had lost yet another close friend. All totally needless.
So I am so relieved that a new couple looking for the idyllic lifestyle are buying their new home from me. I want them to enjoy it, and I know that community can start again and have happy times again.
It was a tough trip for me. I laid in bed all night not sleeping, just thinking of all the good times there. The parties, the Christmas celebrations, & the people. I did a lot of talking to Mum & Dad, a lot of crying, even some screaming. It needed to happen however tough it was.
It was daylight before I knew it. Exhausted, drained, & numb I came home after a final goodbye to some really special people.
I cant really remember getting home. My mind was empty. I listened to my iPod all the way home. I have no idea what was playing. The lovely lady next to me on the plane gave me a hug when she saw I was a bit upset. She didn’t ask why, or say too much, she was just there. Its like my Mum was there to hold my hand. I slept well that night.
The house sale is completed on Friday & I am relieved. But Im sad at the same time. Very sad. I know its for the best & it means my seaside dream is coming true, which excites me massively. But for this week, I need to say goodbye.
The next challenge is Christmas. Its going to be completely different for me this year. I have been blessed till now to be surrounded by Family on Xmas Day. Thats gone. I will have a wonderful time still with all my lovely friends, but its going to be a bit strange! Well, i guess every cloud has a silver lining & at least Im not on a plane, carrying half of Tesco’s Xmas Food supplies for once…..
So please bear with me for a few weeks. Im not myself. Im not the usual Al. I will be soon I promise, but in the meantime Im going to need all your kindness, tea making, wine/gin drinking, laughter & hugs. I have no doubt I’ll be back to the annoying jolly Al in no time with all of that.
Take care, drink and eat loads, & enjoy.
See you in 2 weeks!!
A xxxx