Happy Christmas

It's not too late for a Christmas tree photo, is it?  Inside The Dome, Edinburgh, January 2

I’m approaching the end of my second year of this blog, and this is post number 699, an otherwise insignificant number, but one as good as any other to remark upon.  It reflects that since I began on January 4, 2011, I’ve missed some days, but not many.

I’d like to thank you all for sharing the experience of reading and writing with me, and I hope that you will continue into the new year, with whatever that will bring for us.

In the meantime, I wish you all a very Happy Christmas, and I hope it brings you happiness, health and good company.

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A Touch of Humbug

There are news reports this week that retail receipts in the High Street, especially in London’s West End, are poor for the Christmas season, and that once again we may not have to wait until the new year for the sales and price reductions to entice us into further spending.

I’m not a big shopper; I regard it as a chore rather than a leisure activity, and the sight of rows and rows of merchandise usually sends me straight back out of the door heading for a coffee.  You’ll not be surprised to learn that I, along with many others I suspect, have been an enthusiastic user of the internet for unavoidable shopping.  I left a few Christmas things a bit too late for delivery, so yesterday I hazarded a trip into the West End for a precision strike on a couple of shops.

After years of working in the area, I know most of the routes around, and from point to point, avoiding any need to walk along the hideousness of Oxford Street.  First stop was Marks and Spencer.

There are some things which are guaranteed to annoy me, but which I seem generally to forget about in between times.  This might sound like quite a good thing; but it also means that when I inadvertently put myself in the way of them, they aggravate me even more, because I forgot about the need to avoid them.  The Marks and Spencer shoe department is one of those things.  I wandered in there because I need some new slippers, as my old ones were soaked and beyond recovery after my recent domestic plumbing drama.

But as soon as I found the slippers, there it was, that thing that drives me mad.  The shoes are arranged on shelving stands, the small shoes on the top shelf, where the short people with little feet have to stand on tippy toes to be able to see them, while the large shoes, generally worn by taller people, are on the bottom shelf, meaning that in order to see them I would have to get down on my hands and knees.

No sale there then, and I’ll continue to use my British Airways issue slip-ons until they completely disintegrate.

And so I went to have a few moments respite and a cup of tea, only to be confronted by another pet hate.  The man sitting behind me slurped his way through a box of food, his face barely six inches from the table, his elbows splayed wide on the table.

Bah.

Happy Christmas

From the beardy guys and me.

Some Christmas Lights

I have an ambivalent attitude towards Christmas.  I find the television advertising in the run up to it odious; the street lights and decorations are up for far too long , and all the seasonal going out puts too much pressure on bars and restaurants which have difficulty coping, leading to an inevitable deterioration in the overall experience.

If there were less of it, I’m sure I’d appreciate it more.  I remember in 1995 I left Moscow around 23 December to come to the UK for Christmas.  At that time, there was nothing in Moscow to indicate that it was a celebratory season; no extra street lighting, no decorated shop windows, so when I saw my first illuminated tinsel Christmas tree after landing at Heathrow, I truly appreciated its jolliness.

So just to prove my inconsistency in these matters I should probably confess that I’ve decided not to put up my Christmas tree this year. As I’m going to be away for most of the festive period, it didn’t feel as if the work effort to enjoyment ratio was in my favour.  It’s only worth it if it’s going to be there for my pleasure for a couple of weeks before, and all of the time after Christmas until the grand dismantling on January 6th.

The best thing about having the tree inside is the lights, I enjoy  sitting in their gentle twinkly glow, so rather than deprive myself completely I’ve unearthed these fairly lights which, for a couple of years, after I bought them on a whim one December lunchtime, adorned the window in my office at work year round, much to my colleagues’ amusement.

Everyone needs a little whimsy, every now and again.

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