The fireplace flickers in the wind.
Long, undulating tongues of yellow flame, deep blue hearts inside, leap up against the cast iron flue as the wind rushes down the chimney. In front of it, almost impervious to the furnace-like heat, he sits. Pensive, he gazes into the flames, the glass of Bordeaux by his side slowly losing flavour as its absorbs the heat radiating across the room.
It is late at night; the footfall and raucous chatter of the tourists from the nearby hotels that dot Bayswaters’ period squares have fallen silent. Only very infrequently is the silence on the streets disturbed by the sound of a London black cab driving another reveller home after a night spending money – whether hard-earned or not is irrelevant in London’s overpriced venues – to go home for rest, and possibly recuperation for another day, another drunken revel.
The silence, and the lassitude that envelops the neighbourhood could be depressing. For someone naturally melancholic as him, though, the quiet stillness that fills London streets during the Christmas holidays is restful. For the first time in days, he has had time to think.
And to reflect on another year gone past.
Professionally, things could not have gone better. A pay rise of almost 60% over the course of a year is nothing to complain about, especially in this economic climate. He’s always restless, but there’s nothing new about that. Better to be restless than to be complacent, in any case, right?
Travel – a long standing love – has been good this year. It all kicked off with a week long excursion to Bali with friends, followed by New York in February. There was a brief hiatus in spring, but following a weekend away in France for a friend’s wedding, it’s been a (primarily) European rollercoaster – Berlin, Amsterdam, Athens, France again, Ibiza (for the first time) and then a week long adventure in India in November. And now, here at the end of the year, he has a weekend in Berlin to look forward to and to welcome in 2011.
Love. How was that in 2010? It could have been better. But then, it could have been worse. Much worse. Perhaps the greatest thing about his love life in 2010 was learning to love himself, to learn what was and was not acceptable, and to be honest. To the other person, but most importantly, to himself.
And so with little to complain about, and a great deal to be thankful about, he gazes into the fireplace, saying a small prayer of gratitude to the gods for the decisions, and happy coincidences, and accidents of circumstance, that have brought him to this place.
And that allow him to hold his head up high and look forward to a new year, and look forward to it with hope and excitement.
Dear reader, he bids you a very Happy New Year!