This is where I should be wishing you all a very happy new year and listing all of my good intentions for 2018. Sorry – not happening. Not today. You see, despite reading lots of lovely inspirational posts on my social media and really believing this was going to be the start of a great year, it hasn’t started out like that.
I was determined that this year I would make more of an effort: be kinder; be positive; be supportive; be less judgmental; get fitter; write more often… you know the kind of thing. And I really meant it when I thought it. I still do. But, after a long night of trying to settle dogs made hysterical by fireworks, then being woken at irregular intervals by drunken revellers slur-singing their way home, I was a bit grouchy when I got up this morning. My mood wasn’t improved by almost falling on my face when I stood up and found my knee was swollen and very painful. Even then, I was determined to try harder and do my best.
If the dogs and I had taken a different route on our walk, I may still have clung on to all my good intentions but, when we reached our destination, the footpath was blocked – by Park Runners. Now, I know that keeping fit and socialising are great things. Making active and regular use of public spaces helps stop them being built on. But it’s a MONDAY. That’s not Park Run day. And that’s when all my good intentions went out of the window. I watched the sea of lycra and exposed flesh jostling their way down the footpath and my chest was a seething knot of resentment.
Perhaps I should explain that, over the years, the dogs and I have had some rather unpleasant experiences with Park Runners. The majority of them, I’m sure, are lovely people but there are some who are so intent on shaving a millionth of a second off their best time that they think nothing of barging, kicking, spitting and swearing at other park users. For this reason, we usually avoid that particular park on a Saturday, as do many other dog walkers.
As we waited for a chance to get on the path and continue our walk, sweaty people I don’t know smiled at me and wished me a happy new year. Did I smile back and return the greeting? Did I heck as like. I snarled and grunted and glared. When I spotted a gap we leapt onto the path, walking against the tide of runners and I almost wanted someone to knock into us or shove us out the way so I could vent my spleen. Not good.
I couldn’t shake the pent-up Grinch feelings, even when we were free of the runners and striding over the soggy grass into the public orchard – definitely not helped by spotting the remains of a firework display someone had set up on the Old Common and not bothered to remove when they had finished. Even when we were nearly back to the safety of home, I was still seething. You may know that I have a pathological dislike of litter. Whenever we go for our walks I pick up as much as I can and drop it into the bins in the parks. Today, just a few doors up from our house I spotted an empty Budweiser bottle, abandoned by the aforementioned revellers. Did I pick it up and bring it home? No. I growled at it and said “Why should I?”
Some of my writing friends say the first version of a story they write isn’t the first draft – it’s the Zero Draft. All the ideas they’ve been mulling over in their minds spewed out onto the page, just to get it out of their head. That’s how I feel about today. It’s the start of 2018 – Draft Zero. So, please ignore me today. Tomorrow I fully intend to smile as I wish total strangers a Happy New Year. It can’t be that hard, can it?