Tag Archives: Christmas

Day 29

Has the year really passed so quickly? There are now only 336 days left until Christmas. The cynic in me is tempted to suggest that it will only be a couple of weeks before we start seeing the first Christmas displays in the shops. However, first we have Valentine’s Day (14th February). Then we have Mother’s Day (27th March) and Easter (17th April). Then there are all those summer holidays that people have been looking forward to, because modern people can’t function without their holidays. When I started work we used to get by on two weeks a year, and knew people who had been at work when there was no such thing as annual holiday. The whole country is getting soft. You can’t imagine the Spartans taking two weeks off in summer. Anyway, enough about the good old days. We probably won’t start Christmas until September.

American readers may have noticed that we have Mother’s Day on a different day. That’s because ours is linked to Mothering Sunday, which is a church festival and it takes its date from Easter, which is a notably moveable feast. Yours is linked to a woman called Anna Jarvis, who wanted to honour the memory of her mother.

I must apologise to Americans here, because I had always assumed that your Mother’s Day was just another commercial orgy driven by greetings card manufacturers. Seems I’m wrong – not only was it not started for that reason, but it inspired an English woman – Adelaide Smith – to reinvigorate the festival in the UK. She lived and worked in Nottingham and is buried nearby, but until today I knew nothing about her.

However, the greetings card manufacturers did take over, and Anna Jarvis actually tried to put a stop to Mother’s Day. To be fair to the card manufacturers, when she needed care at the end of her life, they paid for it, but it just goes to show how commercial interests take things over.

That’s probably a good place to stop. Otherwise I might get onto the subject of Father’s Day, a completely unnecessary blot on the calendar, and an idea, I suspect, that is supported behind the scenes  by an international  cartel of sock manufacturers.

 

Closing Down for Christmas

I’ve just done 450 words on the evils of modern Christmas, but I thought I’d leave it until later. Christmas Eve (or Christmas Morning by the time you read this) needs a lighter touch and I don’t want to sound like a modern incarnation of Scrooge.

We closed the shop at 1.00 today, and queues at the shops were already backing up as people tried to get into the car park. One pm on Christmas Eve and you are doing your shopping? What sort of person are you? What sort of Christmas Dinner are you going to have. I missed a few items when doing my lists, but I’ll work round it rather than engage in a scrummage with a group of disease-riddled people who can’t plan.

Our day finished on a high note. I put a cheap medallion on eBay and the boss told me I was wasting my time as it was cheap, dull and wouldn’t sell. Twenty minutes later, it sold. I always like it when that happens. I have just checked, and find that two of the other items I put on have also sold – just goes to show the magic of new stock.

Meanwhile, I had a blood test yesterday. My INR ration should be 2.5. It was 1.5 at the last test. It had gone down to 1.2 by the time of this test. To compare – a normal person has a ratio of 1 to 1.1. I(n other words, the pills were doing no good at all.

I had the usual questions, but I hadn’t missed a dose or changed medication. Then she said, “It’s Christmas, the brussels sprout time of year.”. “Yes,” I replied,”and I have been eating more greens.”

I knew that green veg could counter-act the medication. I had no idea that they could wipe out the whole,benefit of it. I call it “medication”. It’s actually rat poison, but “medication” sounds better.

For blog post on the opposite problem, try this. It only seems like a few months ago that I had the opposite problem. Oh, it was only a few months ago. Warfarin is a very imprecise drug. Next blood test?  Wednesday 29th December. Bang goes my ambition of wearing my new pyjamas and slipper socks and not getting dressed for a week.

Happy Christmas everyone, and many more of them. Or Happy Holiday, or just Best Wishes for the next few days, depending on what you celebrate.

Christmas Looming

Today was another of those days that drifted gently down the stream of life with scarcely a ripple.

The morning started in a moderately interesting way when we joined a traffic jam. Ten minutes later we were diverted down a side road as Police Officers directed traffic around a bus. There was a mechanic’s van, a recovery vehicle and a fire extinguisher. I couldn’t any more than that. As I say “moderately interesting”.

And that was it. We lost a medallion that someone had ordered, and deduced that we were lacking a small box. It eventually turned up under my desk, so that wasn’t a great start to the morning. I must do better.

We had  a couple with a young child in during the morning. I engaged the kid in conversation because he was becoming bored and he asked his mum why Santa was working in a coin shop. I really should trim my beard again. And lose more weight.

At home we discussed the Christmas shopping, which I really must sort out tomorrow, as it’s only 11 days to Christmas.  First I have to address the Christmas cards to my family. Every year I say I’ll slip a note in as I should get better at keeping in touch. And every year I panic at the last moment and struggle to get them in the post, once again with good intentions but no letters.

Actually it’s only ten days till Christmas as midnight has slipped by. Where did they all go?

Yes, that is me in the picture. It’s a few years ago . . .

A Simple Day for a Simple Man

I’ve just spent a happy morning in front of the fire chatting, eating chocolate and watching compilations of Christmas songs on TV. I am a simple man and this is all I need. This expanded to a happy afternoon doing the same.

I just spent five minutes trying to delete a surplus full stop from that sentence. One of my resolutions for next year is to keep my computer screen cleaner, as it turned out to be a small mark on the screen that lined up perfectly. This isn’t the first time it’s happened, but it always fools me.

As I said, I am a simple man.

I have my wife by my side, my firstborn nearby and the spare child checked in by some mysterious process which allowed his face to appear on a computer screen and tell me I was looking older. He is looking uglier and tubbier than last time I saw him. It is good to have all this modern technology to hurl abuse at family members who are thousands of miles away, though I’m not sure that when I first came across a “video phone” in a science fiction story that I would ever use one for this purpose.

After that I rang my sister using 19th century technology and delayed her until she had to go, because her oven was emitting smoke. Her cooker has either elected a new pope or burned her Christmas dinner. I fear it is the latter.

I’m now going to stalk a few of my regular blogging companions and see how their day is going. After that it is turkey and more TV. I also intend drinking some of the tea I have been sent as presents and rounding the day off with biscuits.

1995 Robin stamp

 

Happy Christmas Everyone

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, have a good day tomorrow. I’ve just been speaking to Number Two Son in Toronto. He has a couple of days of employment left until his job finishes, at which point the Canadian Government will start paying him enough for food and accommodation. He’s already on the trail of another job, so the unemployment may well be short lived.

If you judge the quality of a nation from the way it treats its lower level citizens (and let’s face it a tourist with a Geography degree and job experience at the lower end of the hospitality trade isn’t a high class immigrant) then Canada is looking pretty good. I am, of course, biased, as they are looking after him well. If he looked a touch more indigenous he might not be so lucky.

Despite my use of a stamp with traditional Christmas imagery, there has been no snow here, though there was some further north, and there were no carol singers either. However, we can still have goodwill to all mankind. Even IO can manage that for one day out of 365.

In the shop we had five parcels to do, which were, fortunately, all for UK addresses. The Royal mail has suspended a number of foreign services because they have so much mail accumulated, and so many closed borders. I’m sure that a few late parcels won’t spoil Christmas, but it’s a sign of the times when the world grinds to a halt.

A dealer came to call, and told us he’d been stopped on the way by police wanting to know the purpose of his journey. Clearly, murder, rape and robbery are all on the back-burner while they chase the real criminals. Rob the shop and they won’t even knock on your door in case they infringe your civil rights. Sneak in a quick visit to your grandma and you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, unless you are one of the well-known exceptions.

First Official Air Mail Postcards

I was able to spend the rest of the morning researching the first scheduled air mail service in the world (September 1911 – London to Windsor) and Epps’s Cocoa, which was at one time the best selling brand in the UK. I would add links, but I don’t want to spoil you.

Epps’s Cocoa Nature Cards

Julia sends her regards too – though she’s rushing about worrying about Christmas being a “success”. We have each other, we have family, we have food, warmth and (somewhat dull) TV. We don’t really need anything more, but she always worries. I hope you all have a comfortable and unexciting day (we’ve already had too much excitement this year) and that next years shows a distinct upturn.

 

A Fresh Start

I was so full of ideas this morning that I filled two pages of my A4 notebook before I even got my trousers on. It’s maybe not the most dignified of mental pictures, but it shows the wisdom of always keeping a notebook close to hand.

Most of them will, of course, not develop much further. I could feel that from a few of them as they hit the page and scurried across the book. Some will not be good enough to develop, though a few will be merged with other ideas. Some will, I confess, be illegible by the time I have another look. My handwriting is truly, and embarrassingly, terrible.

That will still leave plenty. It’s quite likely that some will never be developed simply because I move on to other things before finishing the list from this morning. That is the life of a poem. Sometimes it soars, but it, more often it staggers or simply slumps.

Sunset over Wilford, Notts

Sunset over Wilford, Notts

I really must get a grip. I have some haiku to finish, because they need to be submitted tomorrow. I also need to arrange my buildings insurance (which just means remembering to pay for it) and order the Christmas food. It’s only ten days to Christmas and I am not at all prepared. I’ve ordered Julia’s main present (which probably won’t get here until after Christmas) and a supplementary present which I hope will get here before Christmas. The post is unfortunately very random. In my defence, she didn’t tell me what she wanted until last night, so it’s not entirely my fault. However, we don’t currently have a turkey. I’m not that bothered myself, I’d be happy with a tin of corned beef and a sprig of holly, but everybody else expects turkey.

At the moment my only proper preparations for Christmas are two tubes of cheese footballs I bought several months ago, a Christmas pudding and a packet of stuffing. As preparations go, it’s not impressive.

Sunset over Wilford, Notts

Sunset over Wilford, Notts

These area few sunset photos I took last week. I’m not sure they were successful, looking at them in this size, but at least they are new.

 

Boxing Day

Number One Son cooked sausages for brunch and Julia cooked in the evening – gammon, bread sauce, roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, brocolli and stir-fried red cabbage with apple, for those of you who like to know these things (and future researchers looking into the diet of 21st century Britain). We snacked on a few nuts, ate some Turkish Delight and I’m thinking of serving coffee and cake when I finish this post.

This evening I’ve written part of the post I keep promising about the Gibraltar £20 coin, but kept getting diverted by other things. I’m good at finding diversions.

That, apart from reading, playing Candy Crush, watching TV and pondering eternal questions like “Why am I so lazy?” has been my day.

In keeping with my theme of laziness I am now going to make the coffee, eat the cake and watch TV. Tomorrow I may well be a bit more active and open the cheese I bought for Christmas. So far, as we try to limit our over-eating, we haven’t actually had any cheese.

On Saturday I will return to work. I’m hoping that many regular customers will come to see us clutching money they have been given for Christmas.

Panic, Sprouts and Parsnips

I toyed with the idea of not posting today, but it’s a difficult habit to break. The only drawback to posting on Christmas Day is that people might think I’m a miserable, anti-social misanthrope with no friends, but if you’ve read the blog before you’ll know that’s a fair description.

We’ve had a reasonable Christmas. There was a minor panic yesterday when I realised that I had mis-calculated the cooking times. We have had a fresh turkey crown for so many years that, having bought a frozen one this year, I’d completely forgotten about thawing times. Buying a frozen crown made it easier to buy everything in advance but it did mean I should have started thawing the crown several hours before I actually thought of it.

I dropped Julia off at the shops and the way to work and she rang soon after to tell me that she had been able to buy a fresh turkey crown.

Panic averted.

Today, after a late start and a bacon sandwich, we opened presents, ate chocolate and watched TV before I started on the lunch.

This was turkey, stuffing, redcurrant jelly, pigs in blankets, Hasselback potatoes (done with goose fat), roast potatoes (ditto), roast carrots and parsnips (with cumin), stir-fried sprouts with chestnuts, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. The potatoes, when cooked with goose fat, were better than with olive oil, and made a good centre-piece for the meal.

After a number of successful quizzes on the net we are now watching TV again and eating Turkish Delight. It’s one of the things that defines Christmas, the only time we have Turkish Delight.

Tomorrow we will have another of those defining moments – the only time of the year we have turkey sandwiches.

Our casual Christmas was slightly disturbed by Number Two Son ringing to wish us a Happy Christmas. He is currently the facilities supervisor in a budget Toronto hotel, and spent the night dealing with rambling junkies before returning home to microwave a leftover McMuffin. Travel, as they say, certainly broadens the mind.

Finally, the report on last night’s Brussels Sprouts in batter. After a pleasant interlude consuming the nutty-tasting knobby greens, I can confirm that nothing untoward happened and I remained socially acceptable at all times. Apart from the fact that they are breeding less sulphrous sprouts these days, it appears that their famous capacity for inducing wind occurs mostly when they are over-boiled.

Recycled photos again I’m afraid – I didn’t think of photos until I was looking at an empty gravy-stained plate…

 

Charity, Children and Christmas

It’s finally here (which is more than you can say about the promised article on the Gibraltar £20 coin), and in just over three hours it will be Christmas. It seems like a lot of effort goes into just one day.

It also seems like a lot of guilt goes into it, as we are emotionally blackmailed into giving money to the homeless, foreign children and donkeys. Now, I have great sympathy for the homeless, and for foreign children who are needlessly blind, or in need of fresh water, but I don’t appreciate the tactics of the charities in swamping the Christmas TV screens with these adverts.

As for the donkeys, I may sound heartless but compared to a child I don’t really see the suffering in the same league. I also think that on charity quiz shows the celebrities should be prohibited from raising money for animal charities, but that’s a personal view and as the RSPCA raised £81 million from legacies last year it seems there are plenty of people who are happy to give.

It’s an interesting document, the RSPCA report, though I notice that , once again, it fails to call for the prosecution of people who deliberately breed faults into dogs in the name of breed standards. Another personal point there. I must be careful not to rant.

I give to two charities monthly One is for children overseas and one for children in this country. I’ve been thinking of transferring the former donation to the homeless in this country, but after seeing the adverts I’ve decided to leave it. I may transfer the second one, as I’ve had words with the charity over the years about their tactics in trying to bully me to give more. It shows the power, and wisdom, of the TV adverts, where one has stopped me withdrawing support, and the other, which doesn’t advertise, might lose out. On the other hand, as it’s the charity and not the kids that have upset me, I may leave that too.

I’m in better financial shape than I have been for the last few years, so I may just have to give more, as I’m beginning to think about the homeless and the Salvation Army. Their adverts at Christmas always make me feel that way and General Booth came from Nottingham so I should support the local man.

And that, via a circuitous route, takes us back to the beginning of the post. It looks like the adverts, irritating, and cynical as they may be, do serve a purpose.

I will now wish those of you who celebrate Christmas good wishes for the holiday. Those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas can have my good wishes too. If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, imagine me eating a large lunch, with turkey and Hasselback potatoes, and snoozing in front of a feast of variable quality TV.

Dog Show Prize Medal

Dog Show Prize Medal

 

This is the Way the World Ends

It’s three sleeps until Christmas, and about 80 sleeps until I embarrass myself in front of the Numismatic Society of Nottingham with a dull, boring and badly presented talk. I can feel the iron hand of doom closing around my throat…

I will not be able to look my fellow members in the eye and people will point at me in the street like one of the sad figures from a Bateman cartoonThe Man Who Couldn’t Use Powerpoint.

In the end, I suppose it won’t be too bad, but I am a bit apprehensive.

Meanwhile, having airily stated “Christmas is in the bag. There are a few things left, but the essentials are in place and we are ready to go.” just a few days ago, I came face to face with reality.

A late listing of things we needed for Christmas, which was supposed to be a few veg and bits and pieces, ended up filling a page on my pad, and filled a trolley (though just a small one).

Murder was contemplated on more than one occasion, though I also smiled a lot, gave way a lot and quipped “It’ll soon be over!” more than once.

It’s amazing how many people come out just before Christmas who seem never to have seen a shop before. They dawdle, they gawp and they get in my way. They have uncontrolled children, slack jaws and, often, resentful partners in tow. Zombies have more life behind the eyes, more spatial awareness, and more charm than many of these shuffling, gangway-blocking lost souls.

Today’s poem is dedicated to those shoppers trapped unwillingly in a vortex of Christmas shopping. It’s quite long but you can get the gist from the first part before scrolling down to the last line.

Yes, I do have a cavalier attitude to classic poetry, but life is too short to be serious about poems. This is particularly true where the poet has, as my father-in-law used to tell me, a name that is an anagram of “toilets”.

I’ve returned to Julia’s reindeer pictures for a bit of Christmas cheer.

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