The year started well enough: a birthday viewing of The King’s Speech was thoroughly enjoyable. But my birthday meal took place in an appalling restaurant in Sydney that has acoustics only someone totally deaf could like. I couldn’t hear a bloody word being said by anyone, got very grumpy and refused to eat any of the food as a consequence.
An old friend of mine turned up to said birthday meal, looking -literally- white as a sheet. I’ve never actually seen someone who fitted that clichéd description before, but Rodger did, and I made a point of mentioning to him that he probably needed to see a doctor.
My birthday meal being on a Friday, Rodger finally made it to the doctor’s on the following Monday -at which point the staff there declared that he was actually in the process of having a heart attack and he was whisked off to the nearest coronary unit immediately. The Other Half spent a lot of the next four days visiting Rodger as he recovered from an emergency stenting procedure. The two of them walked out of the hospital on the Friday afternoon and made it to the nearest pub for a celebratory ginger ale. I turned up after work, just in time to see Rodger off in a taxi back to his home.
Which is where he died sometime that night.
We had to get the police to break into his apartment the next Tuesday, having not heard from him for a while. They found him in bed. At least he’d died in his sleep. He was 69.
He had no close family, but a sister of a 1970s friend was the closest thing he had to next-of-kin. She swooped down from Queensland as soon as we told her the bad news to “take charge of things”, announced that there’d be no funeral, and that was that. Within a fortnight, with house contents and body summarily disposed of, it was as if Rodger had never existed.
Things settled down a bit after that, until in March one of the cats had two strokes (of the cerebral variety). Since he didn’t end up walking around in circles, the vet declined to put him down, but Gracie’s never been quite the same since. He had a third ‘incident’ just three weeks ago. He’s slightly unsteady on his paws, but otherwise apparently fine. But we’ve spent most of this year expecting him to bow out, which doesn’t work wonders for one’s morale. The prognosis for this coming year isn’t much better, either.
Being made redundant is also not exactly a bundle of laughs, which was the next surprise to hit us, in May. My employer was bought out by their largest competitor, who is based in Seattle -and is a SQL Server shop. There was some requirement to keep our existing Oracle databases running for a transition period -and, indeed, to move them lock, stock and control files to the Seattle data center in November. As a result, I am (at the time of writing) still employed by them …but only until January 6th 2012. Meanwhile, I can reliably report that spending 7 months dismantling everything you’d built and managed for the previous 5 years is not exactly fun. I should probably be grateful for being kept on at full pay for not doing a great deal of original work, but I’ll be glad when the clock finally runs out next week.
The year picked up a bit after May (it was, to be honest, hard to imagine it being able to get much worse). We holidayed in Tasmania about then, and cruised the South Pacific at the beginning of December. I worked out how to propagate the Kangaroo Apple from cuttings. We saved a red-bellied black snake from doom and destruction. Two new wallaby joeys joined the resident mob.
On the other hand, two Shuttle PCs I bought turned out to be complete duds (though we did end up with 100% refunds, so no permanent harm done) and my old Internet passwords got hacked as a result of a screw-up on the part of Lastpass (who are, indeed, now the last people I’d ever entrust my passwords to!) So the year seemed to continue on its mostly gloomy way, despite the occasional sunny spell.
The year ended, however, with us winning three Trivia contests on board the Pacific Pearl. So hurrah for general knowledge and knowing that Jimmy Wales founded Wikipedia, not Facebook.
Well, anyway. I didn’t much like 2011 (can you tell?!), but here’s a virtual beer to the possibilities inherent in a new 2012. Happy New Year, everyone.
And vale, Rodger Hall (1941 – 2011).