I had such a lovely time with my daughter Sara and the grandchildren over Christmas. For the last five years or so I have missed the youngsters over the festive period as my elderly parents were still with me on Paradise and would have been somewhat miffed if I had left them too it alone, so it was a real change to be in the hectic speed of a child centred Christmas !
We had a wonderful Christmas lunch with many and various trimmings, and all sorts of sweet things for afters. Christmas Day was full of overeating and playing those delightful board games which arrived via Father Christmas and a Sussex chimney.
The weather in the South of England was however apocalyptic in almost every way. We were one of the fortunate few areas in West Sussex which retained electricity, hence we could cook our festive repast, but many thousands had a miserable and freezing time over the holidays, indeed the children's Papa still today has none and that will be a week without heating, cooking or any kind of electronic entertainment. Under normal circumstances people cope and make the best of it, and maybe even learn from it, but over Christmas it becomes a real trial. All the freezer food had been ruined, the fridges are now devoid of anything edible, and the milk is being stored outside, which is just a little colder than inside. Poor things......and Mark had a rather serious and painful operation yesterday and was brought back to a chilly bedroom and no hot food.
The good news is that he feels certain that he will well enough to make the trip up here on Thursday complete with grandchildren, and hopefully very light cases, as he can't lift so much as few feathers in a paper bag ! I think the children will love being Papa's helpers, lifters and lackies !
Mark is a very fine professional sax and clarinetist, as well as playing a mean piano and teaching successful Grade V Theory candidates in the shortest possible time with spectacular results ! I wonder quite how he will cope with his professional work with an arm which refuses to play properly !
He is also a wonderful stage performer and really sparkles in comedy roles. He is not unlike Eric Morcambe, in that he needs only to give a look and the audience guffaw. He has in his performing life stolen many a show with a brief but side splitting cameo; this did not go down so well with fellow performers who slog their voices for three hours, then Mark appears for a few minutes and the theatre is in uproar.
He is a master of many trades in the world of the theatre, and even after 25 years of knowing and teaching him, man and boy, he still makes me laugh in a way I rarely do in the rest of my life and work.
That is a gift beyond price.
Papa and us !