Midwinter: time to turn around

I have started several posts in the past week or so but my computer seems to no longer save WordPress drafts, and my phone was no longer synching correctly to the published content so I deleted the app and stepped away from the computer.

But now I’m back, I’ve reinstalled the app, and it’s Christmas Eve.

We had a week of freezing weather here in London which is surprisingly uncommon. However London freezing is different to the kind of freezing being experienced in the US right now – I heard that 200 million people are under some kind of extreme cold weather warning. The temperatures being mentioned are -40C (which is also -40F).

In the last day of London’s cold spell, Husband and I took a walk through Epping Forest, our nearest green space. Except then it was a white space.

We knew it was the last day of snow, with a wave of rain and warmer temperatures coming in the next day, so we did a 7 mile (10km) hike from Chingford to Epping. I say hike… that’s not a big distance, even accounting for the occasionally slippy conditions underfoot. We completed the walk in ~3 hours.

We need to plan more walks for the Christmas break but there are a number of strikes going on with the train companies so getting out of London to “proper” countryside may be difficult.

I signed off from work on Wednesday lunchtime. Our plan was to visit a famous local taco place that is closing down (to move somewhere bigger). We’ve never tried it before despite having been past it several times. We arrived to find a thick cluster of people standing around outside. I don’t like this kind of situation. You don’t know if people are queuing to order or queuing to take one of the three seats inside. You know whatever you do will be wrong but we went inside to try and order. “We’ve run out of pork,” we were told, “and there’s an hour wait.” That explains all the people standing around.

We walked across the road and ate at the Turkish place which had no queue and no wait (although also no pork). (Yes that is a joke.)

Stuffed full from the Turkish meal (grilled meat, salad, bread, rice and bulgur – all the carbs) we walked on to a favourite local pub that we haven’t been to in months. They had two excellent dark beers on tap – the heavy Imperial Stout which Husband had (9%) and the tasty mild which I had (much lighter at 3.8%). We kept swapping glasses – the stout was a little too heavy to drink a whole pint of, while the mild was a lighter but still flavoursome alternative clear your tastebuds. We didn’t eat dinner that night, just had popcorn while watching a movie.

One of my Christmas holiday wishes has been to watch more movies. Not just Christmas movies, although Christmas movies have formed a part of it. we’ve watched our way through the first two Home Alones and the Beverly Hills Cop franchise.

Some observations:

Home Alone: the McCallisters have some truly bad parenting skills. This is besides the whole thing of leaving their son behind because it’s not like they woke up and left the house immediately. There’s that whole fast-motion scene where you see people walking about the house getting ready. Also, they have an older son who is a bully but they never address this, choosing instead to blame the youngest son who is the victim of the bullying. And what exactly does Mr McAllister do for a job? Is he an arms dealer? How else can he afford that huge house, and taking his own family of five kids plus the aunt and uncle and their kids on holiday, paying for the adults to go first class, all at Christmastime, one of the most expensive travel times of the year? And Kevin is weird. In the first film, he’s talking to himself in the mirror in the bathroom. That bathroom is full of towels. Yet he goes out and buys fabric softener and does laundry. Why? What eight year old does that?

Beverly Hills Cop: there was obviously a change in attitudes between films 2 and 3, because 3 was the only film that didn’t feature a scene in a strip club. Obviously in the 80s it was fine for cops to spend time in strip clubs but by the 90s things had changed. However the strip club scenes rankle for the same reason the brothel scenes annoyed me in Game of Thrones. It’s as if someone thought, Damn, we need to show some tits in this film or the men watching will get bored. Judge Reinhold, his character was way too stupid to have made it to detective. I assume he had to do some time as a beat cop. Apart from his love of guns, he really wouldn’t have made it if he’d done any time on the street. His wide eyed incomprehension of basic human interactions would have seen him dead in a ditch somewhere (possibly shot by his partner).

John Ashton and Judge Reinhold

There was also surprisingly little racial-driven joking in BHC. Not that I’m saying I expected it or wanted to see it, but this was the 80s, and that kind of thing was not as frowned upon as it is now. (Although jokes on people’s sexuality – they abound.) In fact, most of the race jokes are made by Eddie Murphy at the expense of the white people he is dealing with. It’s a strange kind of world where a black cop and white cops work together, and no one seems to be dealing differently with Axel Foley/Eddie Murphy because he’s black. Point of interest: a new BHC film is in production for Netflix.

The other films we’ve watched are Muppet Christmas Carol (the Muppet retelling of the Charles Dickens story) and Violent Night (Santa has to fight off a band of heavily armed bandits).

The winter solstice has just passed (for those in the northern hemisphere) so in my mind the energy will start picking up again. The days are getting longer, although it’s impossible to tell yet, but just mentally knowing that makes me feel better.

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