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New Year and New Challenges

Updated: Jan 3, 2023

Like most people, the week between Christmas and New Year was fairly quiet and many sites are closed.

We feasted on Leon’s Chopped Salad (as imitated by Robin, but with avocado added).

Then we indulged in a succession of movie-watching. We enjoyed an eclectic mix…

First, we watched Three Thousand Years of Longing, an entertaining fantasy about a genie (djinn) in a bottle released by a modern academic woman and the ongoing discussion they have about her three wishes.

Along the way, several stories are told by the djinn about his past, all of which featured sumptuous costumes and sets. It was a lightweight, escapist fantasy with magical flourishes. Here’s the 2:23 trailer if you’re curious:

Next came Everything Everywhere All at Once, which centered on Evelyn, a harassed Chinese-American woman trying to run a business, a household, and also prepare for a tax audit.

A totally unexpected diversion transpires, culminating in a multiverse battle between good and evil which transforms Evelyn into a superhero battling a demon who has taken over the body of her daughter. It was a chaotic mixture of choreographed martial arts fight scenes interspersed with domestic scenes of meal preparation and family squabbles. It was truly bizarre and entertaining—we’re still not sure what we think of it. Here’s the 2:42 trailer if you’re curious:

Finally, we watched Death of Stalin which was a retelling of the events surrounding Russia's leadership when Stalin died in 1953.

It’s done as a dark comedy brimming with frenetic activity, likely mirroring the chaos that actually ensued at the time. In many ways the situation it details is oddly awful and brutal, but you become inured and quickly grow to be mesmerized. It was a deft and brilliant production and we were highly impressed. It deserved the BAFTA (the British Oscars) it received for screenwriting. Here’s the 2:27 trailer if you’re curious:

For our New Year’s Eve celebration we made reservations at a Mexican restaurant in Newmarket for dinner and greatly enjoyed ourselves!

Good Mexican food is hard to find in Europe and we were delighted to enjoy some authentic tacos, fajitas, guacamole, and margaritas that night. It was a lovely treat.

When the restaurant closed at 10pm, we strolled to the nearby Golden Lion pub for a drink.

The Golden Lion pub has been a feature of Newmarket's High Street since at least the late 18th century.

Newmarket is an interesting place. It’s believed to be the birthplace and global center of thoroughbred horse racing. Horse racing at Newmarket has been dated as far back as 1174, making it the earliest known racing venue of post-classical times. It contains the largest racehorse breeding center in the country, is home to most major British horseracing institutions, and rates as a key global center for horse health.

The Newmarket area contains over 50 horse training stables, two large racetracks, and one of the most extensive and prestigious horse training grounds in the world. The town is home to more than 3,500 racehorses, and it is estimated that one in every three local jobs is related to horse racing. Every year, five prestigious horse races are held at Newmarket.

It has other historical significance as well. In 1642, a parliamentary deputation met King Charles I in Newmarket and demanded his surrender of the armed forces. “By God not for an hour,” Charles replied. “You have asked such of me that was never asked of a King!” This effectively started the English Civil War.

While Charles I was in Newmarket, Oliver Cromwell’s troops were closing in. They pulled down part of the King’s palace in Newmarket and signed the King’s death warrant.

King Charles I’s final visit to Newmarket was in 1647, when he was en route to jail and execution. He spent a few days under house arrest while the whole of Cromwell's New Model Army kept guard over the town. But they were lenient enough to allow him to take exercise on horseback before he was beheaded.

After the monarchy was restored in 1660, King Charles II found his father’s Newmarket palace in ruins. Attempts to rebuild it were discouraged.

Nevertheless, Charles II spent much time here, indulging his passion for horse racing. The King’s other passions included cockfighting and wenching. One of his several mistresses, Eleanor “Nell” Gwyn, was installed in a house on Palace Street. Nell bore the King at least one son, and his dying words were: “Let not poor Nelly starve.” While warm and friendly, the Golden Lion was quite crowded and we began feeling leery about Covid. So we departed after a short visit and returned home. We flipped on the telly and watched the New Year’s Eve fireworks display in London on TV.

At the stroke of midnight, we welcomed in the new year by toasting with a bottle of excellent Blanquette de Limoux, a sparkling white wine we bought back when we were staying near Carcassonne in France last year. This wine variety was first produced in the 16th century by monks at the abbey in Sainte-Hillaire.

Wine historians believe this to be the first sparkling white wine ever produced, predating even champagne. It was delicious! Fruity but not too sweet, and with an aromatic aftertaste. Lightly carbonated, there was no hint of bitterness or acidity—the flavor was smooth and mellow.

In summary, it was a moderate NYE celebration, but adequate for us.

New Year’s Day was spent preparing a number of submissions to present some training programs on various Jungian topics. I’ll say more about these if and when they are accepted.

We also “walked” our cat, Ozzie.

Okay, we didn’t really “walk” him; we took a walk and he joined us. (I can’t say that I’ve ever “walked” a cat before.)

We kept thinking he would take off, or turn back, but he kept pace with us all the way to the corner store and back. It was like walking a dog!

He seems to be road savvy, because he got off the road quickly when a car came, but we both felt anxious and worried for him the entire time, so we won’t do that again!

Here’s a 7:43 video of us “walking” him in silence:

From now on he will stay locked inside during our walks.

Poppy continues to be “my” cat, snuggling with me all day and night, whereas Ozzie has bonded with Robin and the two are virtually inseparable, except when Ozzie is out prowling in the evening.

The two Tonkinese are adorable together.

Santa brought me a belated gift: a book bag with the “Arming and Departure of the Knights” image on it along with a matching pencil case. Remember me complaining about this in Birmingham? We have a full-sized tapestry of this image in L.A. that we bought to celebrate our wedding at Stonehenge. But I never see it anymore!

This little bag is a touchstone, a reminder of the big one in L.A. Every time I use it, it will be a connection with that item, that memory, that moment. Santa did right by me again!

One of the “New Challenges” hinted at in my subject line happened on New Year’s Day: Robin’s Facebook account was hacked and then disabled as a result of violating Community Standards, surely due to objectionable material posted by the malicious hacker.

As we discovered the hard way with Facebook, Robin has no recourse to regain his account—he must log onto his account in order to lodge a support request but he can’t log on because his account was disabled. He is continuing to explore avenues to get this resolved (hopefully with better results than I had with my Facebook account nightmare—oh don’t start me!).

I wish you a happy and productive New Year, and freedom from hacker and/or Facebook difficulties!

warmly, -Dr. Vicky Jo

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