Annual review

Home from Malaysian holiday. Jonah turns 7. Mum’s and Anne’s birthdays.
John resumes running. Edit book.

Planning application submitted. Planning application rejected. Edit. Singapore. John stops running. Planning application no longer ‘urgent’.

Google ‘schools in Singapore’.

Nail new school. Inform current one. Tell friends. Edit. Cornwall in Easter. Sister’s birthday.

Packing list, to do list, house refurb list. John visits Singapore, chooses home. Finish book. Send to friends. Buy swimsuit, start diet.

Queen’s birthday. My birthday. Cats leave. Sobbing. Sports day. John leaves. Wardrobe falls on Jonah. Give up diet.

School ends. Sobbing. Holidays, packing, eBay eBay eBay. Sob. Holiday camp. eBay. Felix and sadness. Temporary smoking. House sets sail. Move in with Dad. Begin goodbyes. Stop smoking, start drinking.

More goodbyes. John back. Olympics. Taxi sobbing. Airport sobbing. Singapore. Heat. Pool! jacuzzi, beer, pool! Pork buns. Orienteering. Storms. Universal studios. School uniform. School bus. Nightmares. Three in a bed.

Coffee, school, boy-sobs, John back in training, coffee, jacuzzi, beer, jacuzzi, beer, jacuzzi, beer, coffee. Dad’s birthday. Skype. New book edit. Teacher terror. Skype. Boy sobbing. Karate. Skype. Lizards and monkeys.

Coffee, choir, beer, UN Day, half term, Ipoh, Aunty Rosy, chicken and rice, Pangkor, John’s birthday, edit, beer, posh buffet, more karate, book edit, Pam’s visit, witches by the pool.

Storms, beer, jacuzzi, Diwali, lights, tinsel, more storms, school carols, choir carols, book edit, Cold Storage carols, parent’s evening.

Marathon, proud sweaty pictures, Christmas carols, Orchard carols, school hols, what book? Shop, shop, posting, shop, wrapping, shop, airport, sister! Beer, beer, Langkawi, beer. Sleep. Christmas. Sleep. Sun, swim, eat, sleep. Home, cousins, fireworks, beer, airport. Sob. Sleep.

Learn Mandarin. Finish the damn book. More holidays. More sun. More postcards. Less sobbing.

Christmas is coming, isn’t it?

There’s a lot of talk, out here, about how hard it is to enjoy Christmas when the weather is so hot, about how wrong it all seems. Many travellers who’ve come to the east from colder climes seem to have had abrupt memory loss about the impassable snowdrifts, biting wind chill and awful misery of those cold December months, where ice inside windows and cars that won’t start herald every freezing dawn. Me, I don’t mind having a hot Christmas, I’ve had a few now. I think the fluffy trees with baubles bouncing about in afternoon storms are still festive, and though I agree it’s weird to be doing it all in a vest dress and flip-flops it’s just different, isn’t it? It’s not actually wrong.

Perhaps the discomfort is more to do with simple homesickness, that old roast chestnut, and if it’s seasonal spirit that’s missing then I guess I’m guilty too.

There’s no doubt I’ve been waiting for that skip inside that I usually get when I think of wrapping, clementines, stockings, bread sauce. Today for a big Christmas lunch I made piping hot mulled wine in a kitchen that must have been around 39C just to get that ruby waft of sugar and spice. Last Friday after the big choir concert I missed our aftershow party because the last beautiful descant of a carol that my mother had always loved made me so suddenly sad about her that I knew I could only walk home crying, instead of chat over the mince pies. And instead of the usual 698 cards I always send I have counted out just 35. I’m sorry about that but I feel somehow justified in cutting it down: it is my turn, this year, to forget.

I know what it is for me. My sister arrives in a week and I know I’m counting down every single slow-moving second until we are in a cab heading back from the airport together, and to a certain extent things are on hold until she unpacks the pre-ordered festive spirit here in our tropical back bedroom. Hope she hurries up, because until then you can find me stirring a hot pot of wine in a boiling kitchen with Slade on the radio and candy canes melting in the bottom of all the stockings.