It’s always 11:26

I remember the first time I really understood the length of a year. I was six; as old as Chotto-ma is now. And I remember thinking how impossibly long one year was, and how it shouldn’t be called ‘one’ anything. It was trickery. A way of misleading children into thinking that it would pass as quickly as something with a ‘one’ before it should. But this wasn’t like the one that came after zero. One year had three hundred and sixty five days hidden in it. Oh, just a year, grown-ups always say. But when you’re six, it’s three hundred and sixty five whole days. That’s 525,600 minutes. Have you ever asked a child how long a minute is? It’s very long.

And there I was yesterday, thinking like the grown-ups I didn’t understand when I was six. I was thinking how fast this year has passed. And it made me think of how formless, how unquantifiable time is. How it shrinks with age, and stretches with youth. How the quantity of time depends on its quality – a good year rushes by, a difficult year drags without end.

It’s a wily thing, a personal thing – time. The length of your minute is different from mine. Your hour, your year is only as long as you perceive it to be, not me, nor the clock or the calender. Have I told you about the clock in our house that doesn’t tell time? It’s on the wall next to our dining table. It’s large, round. In fact, it’s the main clock in our living room. It’s always 11:26 on this clock; could be am or pm. I don’t remember when it stopped, it’s been a couple of years. It inadvertently tells the right time twice a day. I could pop a couple of batteries in, and the hands would tick to order. But I don’t. I like it this way. I like that in this little corner, time doesn’t exist.

Happy 2015, everyone. No matter what the length of our new year, I hope it has 525,600 good minutes. Minutes that live, breathe and count.

Much love.

Patchy

And so we rest our year. I’m not one to mull over it, look back on it. No rewinds here, no resolutions. Not this year at least. I might get soppy as I get older and take you on a tear-jerking recap of the year gone. But for now, you’re safe.

To me, a year is just lots of days stuck together with a collective glue; and these stuck-together-days are usually patchy. There are rushed days and slow days, used days and wasted days, great days and grim days, beautiful days and bleh days, rainy days and dry days. Patchy, mixed. Not green or blue, but turquoise. Patchy isn’t plain, it’s interesting. Like a watercolour where the paint have blotched into each other while you weren’t looking. And in that blotchy, turquoise year, if you’ve woken up well most mornings, and gone to sleep in peace most nights, you’ve done well. And all that’s left for you to do is to hug the people who’ve helped you wake up well and sleep in peace; hug them into the year that’s about to begin. I’ve hugged D and I’ve hugged Chotto-ma, really, really tight. And I’ve sent three mighty hugs to my Ma and Baba and my brother. That’s all that matters; the rest is just garnish on the side that nobody eats.

I just have one more hug to go. A two-armed, giant squeeze of a thank-you, no half measures, no garnish. It’s for you; for coming back here to read what I write. To read me. I can’t tell you how enormously grateful I am for that. And for every kind word that you leave behind. You’re part of my turquoise. Consider yourself hugged into my new year.

We’re starting the year in Rome. We fly tomorrow, at the break of dawn, for ten days in a lovely little rented apartment in Trastevere. I’ll bring back bits of Roma, and meet you here after your year has begun. And after your food and wine have settled. I might even have something that will hurry up the settling – a lovely cup of tea, too patchy to be photogenic, but more interesting for it.

Have a wonderful, turquoise 2014, everyone. Love, hugs and home-brewed tea from me, D and Chotto-ma.

Darjeeling tea with orange, rosemary & black pepper

Ingredients

1 1/2 tsp loose leaf Darjeeling tea (1 tea bag if that’s what you have)
3 small clementines (oranges), juiced
A generous pinch of freshly, and coarsely, ground black pepper
Fresh sprigs of rosemary
Sugar

In a teapot, soak the Darjeeling tea,  one sprig of rosemary and pepper in two cups of hot water for 3 minutes. Mix in the orange juice, stir and pour into cups.
Add sugar to taste. Put a fresh sprig of rosemary into each cup to stir the sugar in.
Drink warm, or chilled. I love both.