Break the ice with Einstein

14th January 2005 at 00:00
It was the afternoon of Boxing Day. Following a relatively light lunch, the family Steele had distributed itself about the ageing three-piece suite, in order to watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (special edition DVD).

Despite wanting to see the film, I found myself drifting off into a catnap.

I was just about away when Mrs Steele, suffering from a painful knee joint, asked for a cup of coffee. I duly obliged, but decided not to sit down again. It looked like a beautiful, if cold, day outside so I went for an inspirational walk.

For some reason perhaps connected to the solstice or too much turkey, I often find myself short of literary ideas at this time of the year and usually resort to cliches. You know the sort of thing: my resolutions for next year, my book of 2004, why I didn't keep my resolutions last year . .

.

As I walked along the backroads of Carluke, I toyed with doing something along the lines of "2005 - the year of . . ."

2005 is Einstein year. Perhaps, I thought, I could make something of that.

But the ideas wouldn't come. Every time I tried to think of anything, I ended up hearing Wizzard's "I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day" going through my head. Things looked grim. I might even have had to resort to writing one of the two emergency articles I keep in reserve for such an occasion, had I not stepped on a patch of ice.

Demonstrating all three of Newton's laws of motion at once, my body headed for the deck. Only a conveniently placed fence prevented a cracked tail-bone. Reassembling myself, I walked on, now free from a glam rock backing track. I remembered that the road I was on was one where, aged 16, I had gone over the handlebars of my Honda moped. Riding motorbikes, I can see now, was always a risk but it gave me freedom and independence, not to mention forcing me to learn about mechanics.

The physical risks I take now, being a family man, tend to be few and minor. I wonder if I am learning less because of this. Heading home, I deliberately stepped on a frozen puddle. There was a loud crack but the ice didn't break. I thought it might if I used both feet. This proved to be correct.

Unfortunately, my estimate of the depth of water beneath the ice was too low by a factor of 10 and I ended up ankle deep in cold, less-than-fragrant sludge. Maybe I could make 2005 the Year of Taking Larger Risks. On the other hand, perhaps not. It would probably end up as the Year of Walking on Thin Ice or the Year of Ending up on My Erse in the Middle of Nowhere.

Gregor Steele thinks that 2005 might be the year he buys a midi-MPV.

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