At around about this end of the year, it's traditional in Australia for people to take a break from their work, descend on their relatives in the countryside for peace and quiet, then have other relatives descend on them looking for the same peace and quiet, possibly followed by still more relatives, and a dog, and two cats, and six chickens, or is that eight chickens, which results in a not particularly peaceful and rather unquiet situation indeed. Then everyone says merry Christmas, awkwardly gives one another presents, descends back on the spot they originally descended from (which sounds physically, if not metaphorically, impossible), frantically looking to have a break from the break they just had. Usually this period of concentrated energy at the end of the year is swiftly followed by a period of existential angst in the beginning of the new year, where the people who have taken time off work find they still have some time off left to deal with all the time off they had been taking, causing them to drift aimlessly around the town, suburb, or city wondering what to do with themselves.
This year, of course, it's not so much that I'm taking a break from work as work is taking a break from me. No, not unemployment (again), just the usual sources of my transcripts are closing down so they can wander off into the countryside themselves in their own frantic flurry of children and animals and relatives and boxes of chocolate with the price stickers peeled off. But one must not shirk one's duties, even if it does not actually say in any books that those are one's duties, because as we all know, those duties are the most important duties of all, and so we'll be heading off tomorrow.
(As an aside, why is it, do you suppose, that people always take a break in the countryside? And why is it in the countryside that they always try and get away from things? Quite aside from all the frantic energy that taking a break ends up involving, it's physically impossible to get away from things in the countryside: the countryside is full of things, almost as many, and possibly more things, than in the city, so that if you would want to get away from things altogether, then you would not be doing any getting away from things in the countryside at all).
I don't imagine I'll be completely offline, but on the other hand I wouldn't count on me being online either. So, in the meantime, here is a handy checklist of the pertinent points that I expecting to be encountering at some point in my country sojourn:
- The odd river or two
- Terrifying moments when I'm not sure what the right thing to say or do is and saying the wrong thing will almost inevitably end up in an horrific form of death or worse but which I will usually end by saying 'thank you for the lovely present'.
- More pudding.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
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