Friday, 21 December 2012

Emerging from the cave….

What are you lot still doing here?

That’s not the way it was supposed to go.

When I holed myself up in a cave deep beneath suburban Athens, armed only with a bumper shipment of Pot Noodles, a silo of teabags and six months’ worth of 'Crosswords for Idiots Weekly', it was in the sure and certain knowledge that I would have the place to myself when I emerged just after the Winter Solstice.

No longer would I have to worry about the unpaid bills staring accusingly at me in a pile of guilt on the kitchen table. No more would I have to wait in line at the supermarket behind the little old lady trying to pay for a year’s supply of cat food with her collection of five-cent coins. Nor would I have to fend off the attentions of smiling men with dirty sponges oh-so-keen to clean my windscreen at every traffic light, or resist the urge to throw accordions out of train windows when angelic faced urchins disrupt my morning commute with 'Lady of Spain' (on an Athens train, for heaven’s sake).

No, I’d have the place to myself. And though I might get a little bored, I’d no longer have to ‘make nice’, dress up or wear shoes for the sake of getting along with the rest of the world. In short, my world would be…. me.

Imagine my dismay then when I unbolted the 15 padlocks, rolled away a boulder worthy of an Indiana Jones movie, opened two sets of metal doors, and pulled the camouflaged curtain in the mountainside to find everything as I found it.

Blinking in the bright but chilly sunlight, I scratched my head as I spied cars and lorries bustling like beetles along the nearby highway, heard the distant yells of kids in school playgrounds for the last time before the Christmas break, and smelled the scent of woodsmoke in the air as Athenian households with fireplaces burn everything they can get their hands on (including grandad’s wooden leg) to get warm without switching on the central heating.

Then it dawned on me.

I’d been had. Taken for a mug by the Mayans – those geometrically dressed but oh-so-cool ancient dudes in South America whose left-behind wisdom told us that time would literally run out just four days before Santa Claus was due to set off from the North Pole to start his marathon delivery for 2012.

Maybe they just ran out of numbers, or stone to carve them into?

Perhaps their alien masters set it all up as a huge practical joke to be enjoyed through the distance of time and space, in their alternative dimension?
Or could it all have been an elaborate hoax dreamt up by Central American Tourist Boards to encourage doomsday believers from around the world to travel to their countries in the hope of being picked up by the Mother Ship before the end was nigh?

Or maybe, just maybe, it was a diversionary tactic to get us all talking about the impending end of time (or not) to take our minds of the mess than the powers that be have made of everything?

Whatever the truth behind it, I’ve been forced from my subterranean refuge after scraping the bottom of tea barrel, chugging the last pot of monosodium glutamate and filling in the final 15 Across. I’m back in the real world, with all its problems, pitfalls and practical jokes.

I suppose I’d better start being sociable again. And what better way to restart after months of hiding out waiting for the end of the world than reconnecting with you lovely people, safely hidden behind your flickering screens, out there in Webland?

We survived the promised Armageddon of 2000 without a single plane falling out of the sky, we faced the end of times fondly prepared for in the wild mountains, we even came through TellyTubbies and Turkish soap operas relatively unscathed. So the next time I hear about the impending end of everything my response will be “Oh yeah? Bring it on!”

Until then, I promise to do my best to be chatty and personable, perky and punctual, and to get back into the habit of boring you silly with 'She means well, but…' witterings on a regular basis.

And I suppose that wishing you all happy, peaceful and fun times with people you love to celebrate Baby Jesus’ birthday is as good a start as any.

And as for 2013? Well, I can now say that she (even years are boys, hence all the major sporting events, and odd years are female cos we secretly admire all things odd) no longer scares me.

I’m a tough cookie that can do two months of solitary confinement, cackling hysterically no more than eight times daily, with only arrow words and anagrams to keep me company. So go ahead – hit me with your best shot.  

Just don’t come near me with that accordion.