Derek Coleman: A look back at 2018 in columns

January 2, 2019

Well, Christmas is over for another year, I hope you all had a good time and that Santa was generous to you. The New Year is here and I’d like to start by revisiting some of the things we talked about in 2018.

As far as writing is concerned, it was a good year for me. I had two novels published and am well on the way to completing a third. None of them are best sellers yet, but they’re available on Amazon, so perhaps 2019 will be the year.

Many of the things I’ve discussed with you good people over the past 12 months seem to have been well received and during the year I had more emails from readers than ever before. None of them was a complaint, which is a good thing, and most of them had nice things to say. I even had a couple from Melbourne in Australia, although how they got to read the Putnam Herald is still a mystery to me. Add this to the facts I had a short story published and I got to meet some of the people who read this column in person, and you can see why I’m pleased.

During 2018 we talked about more that 50 different subjects and I’m sure you don’t want me to recall all of them but, if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to mention a few that stood out for me.

Back in at the beginning of July I wrote about driving standards on the county’s highways. This article seemed to strike a chord with many of you and I received several emails expressing agreement with my musings.

After I wrote the article I think in many respects the situation became worse. At one time or another there was construction for much of the distance between Milton and Institute and, while I’m the first to agree the highway was in sore need of work, some of what has been going on totally bemused me.

At times there were what appeared to be finished portions of highway that still had a 55 mph speed limit, while the same limit was imposed on stretches where there was no sign of any work going on at all. In places road surfaces were torn up and then nothing else seemed to be happening for long periods and there were frequent lane changes and closures. I’m sure it was all done with the best of intentions and someone, somewhere, has a great plan for all of this but it was beyond me and I happily confess the chaos resulted in me moving my daily commute into Charleston over to Route 60 for a time. That route’s a little longer, it takes more time but I found it to be far less stressful. I do use I-64 again now though.

On a happier note there were a couple of Royal weddings in 2018. I covered one of them, that of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, but I didn’t write about Princess Beatrice because I figured by then you’d probably had enough of royal news for one year.

Following what was described as a “fairy-tale” wedding Harry and Meghan seem to have gone from strength to strength. Meghan now appears to be a particular favorite of Queen Elizabeth. She and Harry made a tour of Australia and New Zealand where they were greeted by huge, enthusiastic crowds and, of course, they have announced that they are expecting their first child.

There are rumors of a rift between Meghan and Kate, Prince William’s wife, but that could just be tabloid talk and I’m sure we all wish them well.

August saw me reporting on our white water rafting experience. As I said at the time, it was fun, it was exhilarating and it terrified me. Other members of my family loved it and there was some talk of us going back in October, when the dam let out, but, with a son away at college and a daughter on vacation in Florida it just didn’t happen. We will go back to the resort, probably next year, but I think we’ll choose a time when the weather is a little warmer. Whether I risk the rapids again or simply fish and enjoy the water park while the others go rafting is something I think we’ll discuss closer to the time.

My email correspondence with Australia came as a result of the article pointing out that the United States is practically the only country in the world that doesn’t use the metric system of measurement. As far as I know there are no plans for us to change our system any time soon but I have an idea that foreign trade will eventually drive us to do so, although my guess is that the change will be very gradual.

Of course, in November, we had the mid-term elections. I didn’t write about them at the time because I’m sure you are all wise enough to make up your own minds who to vote for and I wouldn’t want to try to influence you. I voted, in fact I voted early, although I confess I had difficulty choosing a candidate. Not being used to the American system of campaigning, I was surprised to find most of those standing for election were so busy telling me what the other guy had done wrong that they never did get around to telling me what they were going to do right.

From August through to October I got to visit many of the high schools in the county to report on soccer games. It’s my favorite sport and I really enjoyed watching the skill and enthusiasm of some of the young men and women who turned out in all weathers to play. These are the future leaders of our community and judging by their determination and team spirit, we are going to be in good hands.

I’m going to undergo surgery on an old knee injury in a few days and that’ll keep me immobile for January at least. Later in the year we’re contemplating a house move and several of my family from England are saying they’d like to come visit in the summer, so 2019 looks like it could be an interesting one with plenty for me to talk about.

Thank you for your support in the past. I look forward to talking to you again through 2019 — I hope you do, too — and Lori and I wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year.

Derek Coleman is a part-time writer who is a native of England and who now lives in Hurricane, W.Va. He can be reached at tallderek@hotmail.com.

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