My year began with champagne, sleep, and my mother pounding at my front door to make sure I was awake.

Once I was dressed and out the door, we went to the levee at the Bay St Armoury, where I had breakfast in the form of athol brose. It has oatmeal in it, so it’s breakfast. And probably healthy, too. One of the kilted officers in the Officers Mess ladled me some, and I got to wander the Mess. It has the feel of a gentleman’s club as portrayed in a spy film set in the 1950s: billiard table, covered for this occasion, fully stocked bar that has won awards for its single malt list, heavy leather furniture and a large portrait of Princess Mary on the mantle. We proceeded to the NCO Mess, which is larger and brighter, with a TV and a smaller bar. I got to discuss the origin of the last name Young with a bekilted Sergeant-Major of the same name.

Then we went to Government House, which is the big one. We parked about a block and a half away. We were herded into a short tour of the downstairs, culminating in a coat check, before being herded back upstairs and through a receiving line to the ballroom. The receiving line was a few officers, including the head of the BC Ambulance Service for the South Island, and the Lieutenant Governor. The ballroom was stuffed with people and coffee and sausage rolls. The view from the veranda is spectacular: all the way to the water and the Olympic Peninsula.

I also managed to find the best cure for crowd anxiety: a pipe band in an enclosed space. Really. It was fantastic. They played a couple songs I didn’t know, then Amazing Grace, and a few people were singing along, including me, though I forgot most of the second verse. Then they played Auld Lang Syne, and at least half the crowd sang along, and it was beautiful. A lone piper piped in the Lieutenant Governor and his party, and the Lt. Governor paid the piper – which involved sharing a stiff drink on stage. It was charming. The address put a good start on the year, too.

As we were leaving, there was a woman collapsed in the parking lot. I went to help, though there wasn’t much I could do. I helped keep her propped up, got her a tissue from her pocket, and made sure she was breathing and had a pulse. I also made sure someone had gone for the head of the ambulance service, because, while I have my certificate, I have no license as a paramedic and no cell phone to call an ambulance.

The ambulance arrived quickly, and she was bundled on to the ambulance. A fire truck arrived as well, so they had plenty of help, and I left. The ambulance pulled out, and didn’t have the lights and sirens on, so she’s most likely going to be okay.

As an example of the upcoming year, I’m okay with this morning. I spent the early part reading, and I want to do more of that, and more writing. I very much want to get more into my paramedical training, and start working in the field – I think this morning will be impetus to do my licensing sooner rather than later.

And I can always appreciate more men in kilts.

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