shedI once watched a huge python in the rafters of my tropical house slowly shed her skin. Back and forth she slithered for ages. She brushed herself against the exposed wooden beams over and over until her raggedy old skin got caught on a piece of splintered wood, then she just let that skin rip and fold backwards and ripple clean off her body. It was like watching a stocking being sexily peeled off a woman’s leg.  Out she slithered, fresh and glistening.  Well pleased with herself, she was. A new beginning.

Don’t you wish you could leave your stuff behind like that? The python had to work at it, though. She had to find the right angle, repeat the aim in her mind over and over, persist with the task of it. The pay-off was a fresh start, looking awfully organised and youthful, gliding on to new heights.

As the song Auld Lang Syne suggests:

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? If only we all could.

Auld Lang Syne. The phrase itself conjures for me an image of yellowed and dog-eared paper, slightly musty and damp. The words of the song Auld Lang Syne are attributed to one Scottish poet Robert Burn, but it certainly pre-dates his ‘penning’ of the lyrics in 1788.  The poem is sung throughout the English-speaking world as a hugely rousing chorus delivered at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, typically with a bit of an alcoholic slur to it for obvious reasons. The phrase just means “for the sake of old times” but it appears to also imply a farewell to bad times.

Shedding the skin of 2016 will be done with such pleasure. I’m tired of the ‘old acquaintance’ of this hickled and pickled year, and I should like it to be forgot.  The week before New Year’s day, nestled quietly between the bustle and joy of Christmas and the mad explosions and hoopla of New Year’s Eve, is the time to think upon such things.

Write more. Read more. Get out more. That’s the new year for me.


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