ITEM: As I type this, I’m listening to A Carol Symphony by Victor Hely-Hutchison and feeling quite festive. This morning we had snow for the first time, and after walking round the shops I laced my coffee with brandy to warm up. Tomorrow, all being well, I shall go out with my sister in search of a few seasonal goodies. And yesterday the Kylie DVD that I bought myself as a Christmas present (from me, to me, with love) arrived in the post, so barring power cuts I shall have a jolly Christmas and probably a very good New Year, regardless of whatever else happens.
Less than ten days to go, folks.
ITEM: I have few talents, and wrapping presents is definitely not one of them. Compared to all the other presents, my poor offerings with corners sticking out, unsightly creases and bits of loose tape, look decidedly botched, like the Frankenstein monster standing in a Miss World line-up.
Contrarily, my niece is a dab hand at wrapping presents, sealing hers so tight that there is absolutely nothing to get a fingernail under and tear, and getting them unwrapped is somewhat like being a contestant on The Krypton Factor.
Oh well, it’s the thought that counts. And besides, everyone remembers the Frankenstein monster.
ITEM: Earlier this week I read about another reviewer who was a member of High IQ society Mensa. I’m not sure why anyone would admit that about themselves. It seems to me rather like painting a target on your forehead, or being the fastest gun in the Old West, the man everyone else is out to beat.
Much better I think, to be regarded as ordinary, or even stupid. You then have the capacity to surprise people, to exceed their expectations of you.
Of course, problems arise if you actually are stupid.
ITEM: The Imaginary Girlfriend forwarded an e-Christmas card to me, and forgot to use the Bcc function, so now I know who all her online buddies are. Surprisingly they do not include the members of Il Divo or Richard Gere. I knew it. She’s been lying to me all these years.
ITEM: On every side I see people announcing their best books and stories, writers and publishers of the year. Do they not know there’s fifteen more days to go before 2011 is officially over? I can read another five books in that time, maybe more.
ITEM: Last week the search engines were back on form with ‘lucy liu bondage gear’. Today’s winner is ‘i blow my own one gay porn’. I always knew that tag line ‘where I blow my own’ (meaning trumpet, as in trumpetville) was going to cause problems.
ITEM: I had this crazy idea, to do something monumentally stupid over the twelve days of Christmas. Start off on the first day by watching an episode of Buffy, then on the next day an episode each of Buffy and Alias, then on the third day an episode each of Buffy, Alias and The Munsters. By day twelve it could all get rather manic, and I’ll have probably fallen out with several people who are expecting to interact with me.
Somebody, please, please, tell me this is a very bad idea. I sort of know it, but I need to hear it from somebody else.
ITEM: Of course Christmas is also a time for remembering the loved ones we have lost (if maudlin is a destination that doesn’t work for you, best bail now as this blog entry is about to go there big time). It’s not that more people die during late December and early January than in the rest of the year, just that their passing at such a time, when it’s all supposed to be about happiness and celebration and new beginnings, registers more, seems somehow unfair.
I remember one year, an idyllic day out in the week before Christmas, meeting friends, eating and talking and drinking, finding the perfect presents, standing on the front at Hunstanton and watching the sun sink into the sea, and then coming home to find my answerphone choked with messages from people informing me that my friend Sophia had died. She was ninety four, and extremely proud of the fact, as when she was only a teenager an Indian fortune teller had told her she would live to be ninety three. I think she liked cheating fate, though of course none of us cheat fate in the end. I’d planned to go and see her the next day. Too late.
My father also died just before Christmas, and just after his birthday. He had lung cancer, diagnosed the day after I left school. My mother decided that he shouldn’t be told (cancer was seen by many as something shameful back in those days, and she thought that he’d rather not know), and so he had no idea that he was going to die. Even now, nearly forty years on, I can remember sitting by his bed and talking about what we’d do in the new year when he was better, then going out of the room and bursting into tears. What do you buy as a Christmas present for somebody who is going to die? A Paul Robeson album, but he never got to hear it. In such circumstances buying presents is an act of faith, but sometimes faith just isn’t enough.
ITEM: On a happier note, the best Christmas card I have received so far this year has a picture of a sprout on the cover and the message ‘Happy Birthday Jesus – Have a Sprout’. My favourite card of recent times was from The Imaginary Girlfriend a couple of years back – an assortment of cats on a slate roof at night staring up at Santa in his sleigh passing across the face of the moon – and I’m not going to tell you what she wrote inside.