Though it wasn't quite a trip to Mordor, the five hour queue for the Channel Tunnel in Calais on Saturday night was certainly an ordeal of epic proportions.
I sincerely apologise to those who turned up at the Tavern in my absence hoping for a brimming tankard of winter ale and a chat and found the place deserted, though I'm glad to see that the archives have had some visitors (some of whom were not looking for the Ryanair calendar).
Having spent much of the past fortnight away from the internet or much in the way of news, I clearly have a lot of catching up to do, though a cursory look around on my return suggests that it's pretty much business as usual, at least as long as the underclass, health fascists and politicians are concerned.
And since December 21st seems to have brought about neither the marked improvement in human understanding hoped for by some nor the spectacular apocalypse of the more lurid predictions, I have chosen this week to raise a glass to a Frenchwoman with enviably high ethical standards.
While most people celebrated New Year's Eve with parties and fireworks one pensioner in northern France spent the night alone in a locked supermarket.
The 73-year-old woman felt faint at the store in Roubaix and went to the toilet but when she came out later she found the shop deserted and locked up.Despite being trapped there until a manager arrived at 10.30 the following morning, she did not touch any of the food and drink in the shop because, according to television reports, she 'had not paid for it and there was no one to whom she could give the money'.
Though it may perhaps be unwise to put one's moral values above physical wellbeing, we salute her formidable integrity: madame, à votre santé!