We're somewhere on the m11, heading from Huntington to Lewes. The car stereo is blaring out dance floor classics, I have a bag of wine gums and life is good. Bring on 2012.
I'm looking forward to seeing the back of 2011 for so many reasons, and having just had lunch with Lisa, Mark and Poppy, who lost George this year, I know I'm not the only one. It might be my take on things, but it feels like 2011 has been a very violent and unfair sort of year; a year where bad things have happened to many good people. My birthday was marred by the worst rioting seen in this country for a hundred years. People are poor, people are put upon, people are stressed and people have been ill. It feels like it's been a year for wicked people to rub their hands together in glee.
I guess it's been something of a year of consolidation for me. Matt Lucas always says that you alternate between years spent taking steps forward and years where you take stock of your achievements and polish your armour for the next defensive. I've won awards this year, written a Requiem, had a concert to celebrate fifteen years of writing, lined up jobs for 2012, and floated to the surface when I was expected to drown. Many people in my life have shown themselves to be extraordinarily loyal friends. I feel loved. I am healthy. Those around me are healthy. Maybe it's not been as bad a year as at times it's seemed!
On the last day of 1661, Pepys and Elizabeth went back to Mr Savill, the painter, who put a few final touches to Elizabeth's portrait at Pepys' request. When they were done, Elizabeth's little black dog was plonked in her lap, and drawn, much to the merriment of everyone present.
Pepys then went to his office to finish totting up the Navy's debts on behalf of the Duke of York. They came to a staggering 374,000l.
After being trimmed by the barber, Pepys wrote up his journal, summing up the year, estimating he was worth 500l, moaning about the business of his Uncle's will, listing his servants, claiming to be in good health but for a slight cold, and so on... He vowed to spend 1662 searching for a wife for his brother, Tom, and vowed to be less of a spend thrift. His final resolution was to drink less and pay fewer visits to the theatre. Quite why the theatre was considered so morally reprehensible, I've no idea. Pepys loved plays. They made him happy... But once a Puritan, always a puritan...