Sunday, February 6, 2011
Goodbye Tiger, Welcome Rabbit
It’s all right: everything’s going to be nice and gentle now. The nightmare of the last few years, the rollercoaster ride of catastrophe, recession and chaos is over: life will be calmer.
Apparently the new age began last Thursday. A friend of mine, who is a respected professor of art, so really ought to know better than to spout this mumbo-jumbo, confidently assured me that the Chinese New Year has brought us the end of the tiger’s rage and replaced it with the peace of the rabbit.
I’m not convinced about that. Sure, just as Beijing was waking up to its new year, my company did finally receive a long-awaited order, which calmed down my bank manager no end. And the people of Egypt must feel they are entering a new, less turbulent time.
But on Saturday, as I sat in my seat at St James’ Park and watched my team being torn apart by the unsparing might of Arsenal, I decided it was all nonsense. Four goals down after half an hour, it was more ritual slaughter than football match. Year of the rabbit? – pah, I thought: without Carroll or Ameobi we’re on our way down the slippery path to relegation. Devastated, I couldn’t take any more, and left the stadium at half time.
Instead I went into John Lewis and bought my wife a calming candle: “Peace”, it said on the box. I planned to go home, light it and, with the scent of lime and tangerine all around me, watch a movie with my daughter on my lap and a large gin and tonic in my hand.
On my way out of the shopping centre, I heard the roar from the stadium. You could have heard it in Beijing. Newcastle had broken all records and squared the match. It was the game of the century, and I had missed it. Our team had, like the rabbits in my garden, bounced back.
Of course, I shouldn’t have been so intolerant or impetuous. But I can’t help myself because, according to my professor friend, I’m a dragon, and that’s what dragons are like. Never mind, she told me, next year is going to be all mine.
I’ve never been one to believe in astrology, Chinese or otherwise. But those who do are pretty convincing. “Think back over your life”, she said. “Next February you will be 60, and, because you are a dragon, whose year comes round every 12, 2012 will be your greatest”.
Yeah, right!, I thought, thinking of the chances of winning the lottery, global warming having some effect on the Northumbrian weather, or Mike Ashley spending a bob or two from his £35million windfall on a decent replacement for Andy Carroll.
But she insisted: “Think back to each of your past five dragon years”. So I did. 1964 was my best year at school. I was optimistic and innocent: I hadn’t yet been exposed to the perils of puberty and girls. 12 years on, in 1976, I became the youngest director in the BBC – I never felt so excited or confident in all my time there. 12 years later, in 1988, after quite a struggle to gain traction, my new production company got an enormous commission that raised us to the next level. It wasn’t a completely smooth ride after that but, exactly 12 years later I sold the company and paid off my mortgage.
That was in 2000. Professionally, the last few years have been, to say the least, tortuous, and frustrating. I’m grateful that the rabbit will bring us all tranquility. But, if my friend is correct, I can’t wait for it to be turned into a nice tasty pie and be replaced by the roar of the dragon. I have another mortgage to pay off now: roll on February 2012.