There will be yards of column inches tapped out at this time about New Year, new beginnings, new resolutions and new outlooks.

Sadly, I am currently preoccupied with endings. George, our beloved guinea pig has just died. After five and half years of happy squeaking and a week and half of worry and vet’s visits, the poor soul has nibbled his last earthly carrot and is munching on a chunk of ethereal cucumber, elsewhere.

I felt silly getting teary in front of the vet, but she and the receptionist were incredibly kind. They reminded me that he was part of our lives for years, a happy part and so it was most assuredly not silly to be upset. Several studies have shown the benefits that animals can bring to our lives, from helping to relax us to supporting those that are lonely and I read with interest in the vets’ waiting room about medical detection dogs. I wondered if at this time as we stand on the precipice of a new year, if there were any life lessons and legacy from George beyond an unnerving ability to hear the rustle of a salad bag from a phenomenal distance. He was affectionate, trusting, open, with a desire to play and a willingness to try something new, (mind-blowing the snack selection that is now available for cavies).

On the day he died, my children wanted to play the board game ‘game of life’. I think they just wanted to be together as a family as we shared an unspoken feeling of being sad and a little bit lost. We gathered around the dining table to find out our fate at the turn of a wheel. In that, it is not dissimilar to life, there are some things that happen that we have no control of. There are some entirely unintended consequences to our actions. There are the bizarre, the bemusing and the plain bonkers happenings of life.

But there are also things over which we can exert influence. How we treat others; our attitude; how we conduct ourselves. So whilst I think of a few more ways with turkey I will turn my attention to the stuff of countless column inches and consider what is to come in 2019.

You need not have any gift of prophecy to be fairly certain that politics will be a bumpy toboggan ride through a mountainous land in the coming months. Whatever your political stance, doubtless we’re likely in for interesting times. There are issues to tackle around equalities, fairness, health, crime and education and as my son oft reminds me, the environment. There are challenges and there may be some pain along the way.

But I hope 2019 also brings you much joy, good health, happiness and lots of fun too and don’t forget to sometimes think like George and squeak excitedly at the small special stuff, because that is so often the most important in the game of life.