Wednesday, 7 January 2015


I went up into the attic yesterday to put the Christmas decorations away for another year. During the summer months, the ladder leading up there is permanently in place, but when it gets particularly cold, we tend to seal the loft up, which means going through the rigmarole of using a metal stick to open the hatch and pull the ladder down every time we want to go up there. Anyway, as I pulled it down last night, there was some sort of freakish malfunction, and the ladder came careering down at the speed of light, smashing into my thumb. It hurt like hell and instantly turned into a massive blood blister. It's still rather tender and there are all sorts of things I've been struggling to do today... It turns out that texting is incredibly left-thumb heavy, as is doing up a pair of trousers and putting on shoes!

Everyone around me is ill at the moment. Brother Edward has been terribly poorly, and Nathan is currently suffering from some kind of dreadful stomach bug. Edward phoned 111 and was immediately told to go into A and E, which does rather add grist to today's news story which blamed NHS hotlines and the like for over-crowding in A and E departments. Of course the phone operators play it safe. They're not medically trained and in today's litigious society, no one wants to end up being accused of not catching a serious illness in time.

Today, between trips to the loo, Nathan showed me the rudiments of double-knitting. I was attempting to learn about it as part of my "learn something knew every day" regime, but I've only managed to glean that the process involves knitting the front piece of yarn and purling the back one. It is, however, rather mesmerising to watch.

I put in eight hours on my new brass band arrangement of A Symphony for Yorkshire today. I've been working on the second movement. It's incredibly slow-going, but as with all new manuscripts, it's all about taking one baby step at a time.

I also went to the gym and ran six kilometres and swam twenty lengths in a frenzy of self-loathing. Christmas has turned me into a fat chocolate-froozler and I'm determined to become sylph-like and glorious before I'm too old for that sort of thing to matter! If anyone sees me stuffing my face with saturated fats, please do your best to stop me.

The dreadful news from Paris has upset me greatly, largely because the sorts of people who were effected by it felt like people I would have known if the same thing happened over here. A lot of the companies which shared the magazine's offices worked in television production. I genuinely don't know what the answer is to all of this. What I feel absolutely sure about is that we shouldn't be moderating our behaviour as a result. My Mum feels that the magazine publishers were a little silly for being so rude about Islam, but if we can't question religion because we don't want to offend religious people, what does that make us? Should women all start wearing the hijab in this country because we're frightened about the fall out which might be caused by offending British Muslims? Now, more than ever, we must defend our right to freedom of speech, and if those twisted bastards want anything else, then there are plenty of countries in the world where they can f**k off to! I am proud of the people of France (and indeed of London) heading out onto the streets, placing pencils on the pavements and waving notepads in the air as a way of showing their defiance and their belief in the importance of being able to write whatever they choose.

As I write this, I'm watching a report about Ebola on the news. There's really not a great deal to be merry about at the moment, is there?

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