Young Amy Winehouse is an odd duck, isn't she?
The child bride and I spent a quiet evening in Sunday. I realise it's not very sexy to spend New Year's Eve watching television but it was actually a much more enjoyable experience than you might think.
For one thing, it had been an exhausting year. In 2006 we lived in three different homes, three different cities, and two different countries; and at least since May we have been in an almost constant state of movement and stress. We are immersed in debt. The depression that gripped me in October/November/December was arguably one of the worst I've had in my life. A New Year's Eve spent keeping our heads down was actually very appealing.
Also, God seemed relatively against the idea of our going out. Weather forced cancellations of New Year's celebrations in Liverpool, Newcastle, Belfast, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. Calennig went on as planned in Cardiff but in some pretty shit weather. It rained all day Sunday, with strong winds generally convincing Rachel and me that our house was lovely, thank you. We felt vindicated when it started hailing at midnight.
And we would have had to get to and from city centre on foot because none of the buses that run anywhere near the Cope Estate (25, 33, 62, 122) were running on the holiday. It's not too awful a walk -- about two miles -- but the bit about walking in a gale made me tired just to think about.
Underline all this with the fact that I figured out on Saturday how to dramatically improve the reception to our television (I finally connected it to the aerial).
So, we watched Jools Holland's Hootenanny. For those of you playing along at home, Jools is some random bloke who looks a lot like Kevin Wicks off EastEnders and appears to have restless leg syndrome. He is shit at interviewing people but had several good guests, among them the aforementioned Ms. Winehouse.
The U.S. version of iTunes doesn't sell Amy Winehouse, so it's possible that you haven't heard of her. She's your archetypal talented person who has managed to trainwreck her life before hitting her mid-20s. Congratulations, Amy, you're shite at living. American journalists would refer to her as the live-fast-die-young-leave-a-good-looking-corpse type, but her anorexia means she's already missed the bus on that last bit. The end result is that she's a tremendous singer, but you have to keep your eyes shut if she's on telly.
Staying with the odd-duck-singers-who-don't-look-like-they-sound theme, Madeleine Peyroux was also on the show. If you don't know who she is, you are letting the terrorists win. The interesting thing about her is that she looks like somebody's sister. She may very well be someone's sister, but I mean that she's got the look of someone who's singing exposure would normally consist of performing her sister's wedding: "I know you don't want to stand for a long time, but, I was thinking we could ask Madeleine to sing 'Our Love Crosses the Ocean' at the service."
Another highlight of the evening was my wife suggesting that Ray LaMontagne is, in fact, me in a parallel universe.
"A parallel universe where I have talent?" I asked.
"No. One where you can grow a beard."
In addition to the hail at midnight, we were also treated to a massive 15-minute fireworks display by the crazy wealthy Indian family that live across the train tracks. I'm not sure if I've mentioned them before. In the summer, they once had a live bhangra band playing in their garden until 3 a.m.
Here's a satellite view of my neighbourhood. Just to the left of the green arrow, you'll see a fucking great house that is right next to the tracks. Its garden ("back yard" for those of you playing along at home) would fit both my house and garden eight times over.
Admittedly there is something particularly amusing about a family that flaunts its wealth with live bhangra bands and full-on fireworks displays. Perhaps I will write them into a Penhill and Sneaveweedle story.