A few years ago, there was a guy in my life. I won’t go into the boring (and ultimately irrelevant) details of what happened, but suffice to say he was not a good guy. It took me a while to realise that, though, as he had enough charm and wit to get under my skin, and also had the same effect on two close friends. He was quite manipulative and in the end, he had managed to play us all against each other, even resulting in a rift in our friendship. He didn’t care that he was hurting us; on the contrary, he actually seemed to get enjoyment from toying with our lives and emotions. We all worked in the same company so it was a very difficult time, with every day bringing new arguments and feelings of resentment, anger, and hurt. Even after I cut off contact with him, I couldn’t get the situation out of my mind. Every time I saw him in the office, strong feelings of bitterness and hatred would rise up, spoil my mood, and ruin my day.
The other day I was sitting on the beach here on Koh Lanta, my home away from home again this winter, watching this serenely beautiful sunset. I was thinking about someone, a person in my life whom I have come to love beyond measure.
Well, 2016 has been a real humdinger of a year, amiright?!
On a global level, it has sometimes felt like the world is collapsing around us. We’ve lost so many incredible artists and global icons. We’ve witnessed political calamities unfolding like Brexit and the election of Trump. In public commentary, behaviour and voting patterns we’ve seen an unfortunate rise in anti-“outsider” sentiment and blatant racism. Terrorist attacks continue to inspire fear and sorrow around the world, and our hearts have broken wide open upon seeing the ongoing atrocities and slaughter in war-torn Syria.
On a personal level, 2016 was really a year of two halves.
About four months ago, my Mum noticed that my Dad had been a bit absent-minded – more than usual, anyway. Asking what day it was, ignoring a leaky kitchen ceiling for a few days, forgetting to play golf one day. That was the real warning sign right there – my Dad’s life pretty much revolved around golf, so for him to forget to play was simply unthinkable.
After several days of trying to convince him to go to a doctor (he was a stubborn man), he finally relented and allowed my Mum and my brother to bring him to the hospital. He was admitted immediately and was eventually diagnosed with a brain tumour. They thought it would be treatable, and Dad, our “Indestructible Man”, had bounced back from a number of health issues before, so, while concerned, we remained positive and didn’t necessarily fear the worst. Delays in getting the biopsy completed meant that it was another few weeks before we finally got the news every family dreads – the tumour was in fact an aggressive and terminal form of brain cancer. We were told he had months left. As it turned out, he only lasted another two weeks.
You might have noticed that all has been quiet on the Happy Chanter front for the last couple of weeks. My excuse for that comes in the form of my lovely friend Emily who came to visit for the holiday season, kicked up a party storm on the island, and left a series of hangovers in her wake. To be fair, I welcomed the opportunity to consciously step back from anything resembling work and have a bit of a holiday myself. Days, evenings and nights spent on the beach, basking, swimming, singing, eating, drinking, dancing… It was an absolute blast, and I wouldn’t change any of it. Well, except maybe that last SangSom bucket on Saturday night… That was the final straw as my body finally gave up, said NO, and the 6 day party binge left me suffering from vertigo and fatigue for 4 days in the run up to New Year’s Eve. That part wasn’t quite so much fun.