My staff, Badger and I were watching the Queen's Christmas message on Christmas Day when I was reminded of one of her most famous and often repeated phrases. No not "Oh for heavens sake Philip. Put it away, you'll frighten the corgis." Rather "Annus Horribilis." Why was I reminded of this? Well, firstly my male staff was bending over to pick up one a Badger's pieces of bush chocolate and secondly 2011 has indeed been a horrible year in my household - at least for my staff.
My female staff's dad broke his hip and had to spend seven weeks in hospital, where her also broke his arm while going to the toilet. Dementia then invaded his brain and he had to be placed in a care facility, which he alternately loathes and loves depending on what his poor old brain is doing on any given day. Then in May my male staff's mum was diagnosed with a inoperable brain tumour and given between six and nine months to live. My male staff and I have since been flying between Australia and London at regular intervals to help care for her. On the latest of these trips my male staff developed a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and had to be put down. I'm kidding - he had to spend a week in hospital and is now on so much blood thinning medication that if he nicks himself shaving he's likely to bleed to death in under thirty seconds.
This DVT thingy also means that he can't fly long haul for three months. Even a guinea pig with four digits on each paw can do that sort of arithmetic and come up with the fact that my male staff is not likely to see his mum again. Finally my male staff's mad sister went even madder and has had to take stress leave from her job. I say "finally" because I'm crossing my paws that nothing else happens between now and 2012. It's only two days, but as a precaution my staff have decided not to go outside just in case. They have a good supply of chardonnay and cheese and have asked not to be disturbed until one minute past twelve on the morning of the first of January. In my opinion they are already very disturbed.
Meanwhile I've been preparing a list of New Years resolutions that I can break within the first week of 2012 like everyone else. For instance I vow to get in behind the telly a lot more because it annoys my staff and takes them ages to entice me out with all sorts of treats. I also vow not to mount Badger any more - or any less. Badger says he'll try not to get things stuck to his testostricles. I really have no idea how he manages to do it. They do drag on the floor and are not as hairy as mine so there's less protection. My female staff went to the pet shop the other day and asked if they sold jock-straps for guinea pigs. The pet shop lady thought that one of the inmates from the local psychiatric hospital had escaped and called the police, but that's another story.
My male staff was going to play over thirty-fives soccer again next year, but his blood thinning medication has ruled that out. He's very disappointed, though the rest of his team aren't. His coach once described him as being "deceptively slow". "He's not as fast as he looks." He said. So he's going to have to take up lawn bowls or something less risky. My female staff says that 2012 will be the year that her shoe collection overtakes that of Imelda Marcos and my female staff's dad has vowed to escape from the care home by digging a tunnel and with the aid of forged papers will make it across the border to Switzerland.
Happy New Year Everyone.