Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of year singalong

Have a good one. See you next year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

...and breathe

Well, that wasn't so bad after all. Almost entirely uneventful, in fact. Which comes as a major relief.

The run-up to the Christmas hostilities had been punctuated with so many family rides in ambulances I was worried we were going to make a habit of it. After everyone's finally getting sorted out (or as good as) I was concerned that the sudden onset of proper Winter was going to give one, or more, of the walking wounded the opportunity to do themselves some more damage. Which is where Winter itself made the decisions for us.

The first casualty was a family Sunday dinner at a picturesque restaurant in the middle of nowhere, Lancashire. This was always going to be a tad ambitious as it's a bit of a hike out from our neck of the woods and we take a bit of organising but it's a lovely location and we're assured the food is good. I was a bit worried about the length of the trip out given some of the medical conditions involved. Then it snowed for certain. The (relatively) younger elements of the Pennine Fringe contingent were gung-ho and up for it. For once the elders of the tribe prevailed: in no uncertain terms "have a bit of sense" was the order of the day. Especially as one of those younger elements was only a couple of days out of hospital after cracking her head open in a fall. The trembly bottom lips were assuaged when the restaurant said they were snowed in and couldn't receieve trade. As a consolation, us Southlanders nipped over to the local carvery for what turned out to be quite a nice meal, nothing flash but tasty nonetheless. The state of the roads, and the drivers, even down our way confirmed the sensibility of not trying to go much further.

The week running up to Christmas was characterised by snow. Locally we've had it fairly light, just an inch or two. Up north just slightly, my sister had a scary drive from work in the deeper snow and had to leave her car at the bottom of the hill and walk home. It became very clear that the plan to have Christmas dinner up at her mother-in-law's on the edge of Winter Hill was going to be a no-no. (The original plan had been that my sister would be hosting the meal, but she lives above the garage and my mum's not so good on stairs at the moment. Her mother-in-law suggested the change of venue, with my sister still doing the cooking.) My parents had bought a turkey and the trimmings anyway for Sunday dinner (as my sister was planning on cooking a goose that the cat had caught) so that became Christmas dinner. My sister and her partner stayed put and ate the goose. And my sister's brother-in-law got his skis on and went to his mum's for Christmas.

Ironically, my brother's family travelled up to North Yorkshire to see my sister-in-law's folks without any incident on Christmas Day. On the way back on Boxing Day they had a dead easy ride of it right up to the top of their road where the car slid sideways into a badly-parked Mercedes and scratched both their paintworks slightly.

On the evening of Christmas Day it started pouring down. We'd already had a few days' worth of thaw-and-freeze. On Boxing Day morning the streets and pavements were a single sheet of dead smooth ice with a thin layer of water on top. Even my dad, who'll walk out to the market in a blizzard despite promising to stay at home and use up the stuff in the freezer (we had that conversation last week), took one step out said something rude and decided not to go out for a newspaper after all. Even with my best walking boots, steel grips and a stick it was a scary walk round for dinner. I had earlier rehearsed all my excuses for not going over and they were all a bit too thin to be acceptable.

So nothing went as planned; nearly all the presents are in the wrong place (or so the little boy that Santa Claus forgot imagines); Yuletide celebrations have been muted though still quietly jolly. But the key thing is that nobody got hurt, nobody took any unnecessary risks (pace my Boxing Day stroll) and everyone is in decent health.

Hope you and yours had a good, and safe Christmas. And ditto for New Year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas carol

Be careful with all that tinsel, now.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Doing the fat bloke's work for him

The preparations for Xmas are always a trial. For the most part my preparations consist of two or three weeks' worth of worrying about other people's preparations. I love giving people presents. I like watching people's faces as they open presents. If Xmas were just about giving people some presents, having a cup of tea and a chip butty I'd be quite OK about it.

But it never is, is it? There's always the pressure of creating some miracle of the culinary arts, which I have to admit straight up I could never manage myself. It's a nice meal to be offered, but please don't stress yourself out in the doing of it. Please. I'll be happy with very nearly anything you'd be likely to offer, honestly.

And I can't be doing with all that goodwill to all men crap. I've never been good at handling hypocrisy and it's a bit late in the year to expect it of me.

But I love the giving people presents bit. At this time of year I start fretting terribly that I've not got all the presents. I'm already convinced that I've missed somebody. Or somebodies. The Christmas Cupboard has been being fed throughout the year with whatever caught my eye, or was on sale, or just turned up on the doorstep. There should be enough but I'm not convinced. I'll have a last-minute panic over the next couple of days. Then, on Xmas Eve, I'll start doing the wrapping up and I'll wonder: where did all this stuff come from? Invariably there's more than enough for everyone with a little spare left to seed next year's Christmas Cupboard. And inevitably there'll need to be a bit of creative thinking along the way: who would be thrilled to receive a pair of nutcrackers in the shape of King Leopold I of Belgium? And yet... And yet...

I'll be hitting the shops tomorrow lunchtime.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Always a soft touch for a bit of elfin

It's not entirely EmmaK's fault.

Coincidentally, I'd gone for a meal with friends the other night and was surprised to see that one of them has grown her hair out a bit so that it's an elfin bob rather than the usual very attractive sandpaper. As the lady is not available for bothering I took the opportunity to do a full appraisal and very nice she looked, too. Even so far as to join her partner in paying her a few compliments, which is a 100% sure way of winding up middle-aged women when you're in a mischievous mood. So it's not entirely EmmaK's fault.

The truth of the matter is: show me a gamine with an elfin bob and I'll go all Wembley at the knees every time.

Life is full of trials and tribulations.

Friday, December 18, 2009

At the limits of Bakelite

One of those interesting days when half a door handle comes off in your hand.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Film fun

If you're on the mailing list of The Cornerhouse you can get a copy of their monthly listings booklet, which has been generally pretty good. So of course it couldn't last, could it?

"Our new calendar below hs been created to accommodate flexibility in our film scheduling so we can respond to your demands and give you more opportunity to see popular films. This means for new releases it isn't possible to list times here."

That's right: in order to provide a better customer experience you have to guess when the films start.

I wonder if Orwell would laugh or cry at our clever modern world.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

What's the weather like over Cologne, Jean?

It's Cliff Michelmore's 90th birthday today.

I wonder if they've finished giving him the bumps yet.

Friday, December 04, 2009

I really must stop walking through mirrors

On the bus into work this morning I actually, really heard somebody say, in a loud, clear voice:

"Hi! I'm just ringing to let you know I'm on the 'phone."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Dearie me...

I do miss Belisha beacons...