The November miseries have left me as Christmas approaches and my mind turns to Christmas shopping and festivities. I do hate November - just one of those things - but now that the wind has left the trees outside our bedroom stripped of leaves, one of the joys of winter has returned - watching the birds from my bed as I snuggle down for an extra ten minutes under the duvet. This morning the sun has got his hat on, and sky makes a blue backdrop behind the branches of the horse chestnut in the front garden, and the huge ancient oak across the road. And as LSH read out snippets from the weekend newspaper, I watched a flock of redwings fluttering about, pale fronts and tomato-red side flashes lit up in the sunlight not four yards away from me, and in the oak across the way I could plainly see a great spotted woodpecker scurrying up the side of a large branch. It never fails to cheer. What a privilege. I think of the friends and relations who are battling with life-changing and life-threatening illness, and know that I am so lucky to be well, and able to do the things I do. And what a waste it is if I don't get on with it.
So I thought of today's list of activities and chores - among them, deciding whether or not to go for a performance of Mr Sandman at a mid-week Christmas "do" ... it's the version that I featured on here on 13th February by ukulelezaza, Remco Houtman-Janssen, and I started having a go at it in April. From the start, it's been the tricky, quick chord changes up the neck that have derailed me; first as I fiddled about to find the right frets, then to switch them round quickly enough, and last but not least, to play them cleanly. Not easy. Now, after months of practice, once I'm warmed-up and relaxed, I can do it. Just about. But in front of an audience, even a friendly, home-grown one? Nerves have always been my worst enemy when it comes to playing instruments. Gremlins get hold of my fingers, I swear they do.
But maybe, just maybe - this weekend sometime, I'll do a video of my effort with Mr Sandman, and post it for you on here, just to show you how I'm getting on. And I promise I'll tell you truthfully how many takes it took! Yeah - why not.