Happy New Year! Yes, I know I said that last time, and I’m saying it again – for a very good reason. All will become clear. We all blether on from time to time about consequences, usually those of staying out too late, or watching just one more episode on that DVD, or the one more doughnut that-surely-wouldn’t-hurt. But in this regard we’d probably be better off using a more appropriate word: regret. The actual word ‘consequence’ has been superseded by another, more explosive word – fallout.
It doesn’t matter what the word or action is, there will always be consequences; there will always be fallout. Of course, things like social media have amplified this up to the nth degree. Essentially though, putting your foot in it, or saying / doing something stupid / dangerous / ill advised ‘for a laugh’ or because you’re cheesed off with someone / something is a concept as old as feet or mouths.
Example 1: A number of years ago I was out with a friend, her husband and her small son. We were in a small market town in the south of England, which had a real butchers shop. As it was the boy’s birthday that weekend, my friend and her husband asked me to take the little boy into the butchers shop to buy some sausages while they went to buy him a birthday present. All very secret, hush-hush.
So into the shop I dutifully went with this three-year-old child hanging on my hand. The shop was crowded; there were shelves and packages everywhere. It was unusual in that it had two of those big glass display counters. In one unit was the standard array: mince, chops, chicken legs et cetera. In the other was a side of beef. And I mean an entire side of beef. It spread along the whole counter. Being at his eye level, the little boy (let’s call him Bob) was immediately drawn to the scene of carnage.
“What that?” asked young Bob.
“Beef.” I said.
He repeated his question. I repeated my answer. He tried the question again, slightly more forcefully this time. I thought I couldn’t really unleash the truth on such a small child. However his insistence left me with no option.
“What that?” came the question again.
“It’s half a dead cow. Okay?”
At that point, I had to take him hurriedly out of the shop as he burst into tears rather loudly. I did not tell his parents exactly what had happened: only that he had gotten a little fractious in the shop. The consequences only made themselves apparent a few years later.
Fast forward four years and one sibling later. I was at the christening of their second child. Bob was now seven years old. The proud parents gave a speech about welcoming the new baby to the family. In particular, they were singing the praises of young Bob, who apparently was the ideal older brother. He was a young man of honour and conviction. For example, out of the blue, at the age of three, he had decided to become a vegetarian, and still was one…
I shrunk down in my seat and said nothing…
I have my own scary butchers shop story, which left me with Spectrophobia – you’ll hear about that next time.
Example 2 – and this is where I was leading with my initial salutation. ‘Calan Hen’ is a Welsh tradition that is celebrated on the 6th January. It’s when the Christmas decorations come down, and you have to stop telling people ‘Happy New Year’, because the New Year just ain’t that new any more.
That’s what my mother told us.
Deciding to read up on this nationwide tradition, I uncovered something quite alarming.
None of it is true.
Calan Hen is indeed a celebration of the old New Year, just not what we were all brought up with. It started back in 1752 when the British dumped the old Julian calendar in favour of the new and shiny Gregorian calendar. Consequence? 11 days got lost. The previous New Year’s Day fell on what was now January 12.
But, undaunted, January 12th continued to be celebrated (two for the price of one, if you like), with children going from house to house with apples skewered with sprigs of holly, wishing the householders Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (I’ll leave you to work that one out!!) and collecting calenning (a few coins) as a reward for their good wishes. Oh, and of course there was the football match between one village and the next, with the churches of each serving as goalposts. I think they still do it, although in these days of Health & Safety, less people end up dead or maimed.
And there was something else, too. It wasn’t a nationwide celebration at all. It is a celebration that is exclusive to my home village. Which explains a lot of weird looks I got years later from fellow Welshies that I met.
So, be careful what you say or do – it might just come back and bite you on the bum…
Talking of bums and consequences: on a lighter note, I had one thing happen to me today that (I think) had a positive consequence, if rather painful. I had gone to the market to stock up on all the ingredients I need for my A+ juice and as usual overdid it a bit. So, as I bent over to put things into my rucksack, someone whacked me sharply on the backside. Standing up, I was expecting to see one of my friends. Imagine my surprise to see a completely unknown and random female grinning at me.
“You’re a cute little minx,” she said, “you do know that, don’t you?”
Consequence? I’m gonna have a bruise tomorrow, but it still made my day!!