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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Fairy Lights - just say 'No'....

In front of me is a big black box.  Well, it's not really that big, it's about...ooohh....this big.  See?  Not that big at all.  But the contents.... I shiver and my skin grows cold.  The sun fades from the sky and crows line up on my windowledge cawing and mouthing 'Nevermore'... the moon rises like a badly-baked bun over the horizon... for the contents of the box are enough to strike terror into the hearts of anyone who comes into close contact.

For the box contains...

Dah dah duuuuuummmmmm.....

Christmas Tree Lights....

Yes, those agents of peril whose very proximity can reduce an entire household to swearing Neanderthals, who trailing wires have been the downfall of many an unwarily carried pudding; whose bulb-failures cause the emptying of complete cupboards, whose random power-fluctuations can blow so many fuses that the resultant Christmas Dinner has to be cooked the following day and, in some extreme cases, next door.

Those Christmas Tree Lights.

They want you to believe that this is the effect you will achieve. That your Christmas tree will illuminate hearts and minds alike and cause a sympathetic glow on the faces of all who come into contact with it.

What you, in fact, get, is this:

With the possible addition of a few smouldering jumpers, their knitted Santa motifs gently blazing, and the cat strolling through the wreckage picking off the remaining pigs-in-blankets.

I know you want the best tree imaginable.  I know you have the image of the perfect Christmas in your head and that it features a beautiful fir tree, branches inexplicably dusted with frost despite the near-Hadean temperatures reached by your central heating, sweetly twinkling lights causing murmers of delight among the children who kneel amid the parcels at its base.

Do us all a favour - just say 'no'.  Hang the branches with light-catching decorations made of tinfoil (which will terrify the cat and ensure it sits on the outside of the windowledge making resentful faces at you until at least the beginning of January).  Scatter the branches with glitter, generously decorate them with glass baubles that gleam in the firelight.  But, if you love your family and don't want the police and Jeremy Kyle to be your close attendants in the New Year, for the love of God don't get fairy lights.

Signed:  One Who Knows...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

My letter to Santa. PS, not even with fur edging...

Dear Santa

Sorry to be so formal about this, I know our communication over the years has been generally less convention-bound, (let us never, ever, mention that kiss under the mistletoe incident again), but I feel that now is the time for us to have a good heart-to-heart, get-it-all-out-in-the-open chat.

1.  No more household implements.  I know that sometimes I'm pressed for a wooden spoon, or dusting cloth, but - really?  Not even in my stocking.  Honestly. Even really quite expensive items.  Truly, no woman wants to wake up to a Johnny Depp-shaped article at the foot of her bed covered in holly-sprinkled paper only to tear off the wrappings to realise that a Dyson 390 Anti-Allergy Twin Cyclone Hoover has been humorously formed into a man-shaped parcel.
 Just, no.

2.  No presents that you secretly want.  I thought you might have got the message when last year's 'How to Handle Your Reindeer' book and 'Saucy Elves' pin-up calendar got shoved to the back of the understairs cupboard within seconds of opening.
Not even if it's top-to-floor Laura Ashley covered.  I shall still know...

3.  No clothing that makes me look like your mother.  I know that Mrs Claus is a fashion-conscious lady of impeccable taste and good looks, but that doesn't change the fact that she is four hundred and three.  Please, also, do not ask her for recommendations, you already know my views on slippers and cardigans.
Really, no.

4.  No clothes that you think I ought to wear.  Honestly, if it mentions 'peephole', 'split crotch,' 'easy access' or 'PVC', you can almost guarantee that I don't want it.  'Saucy' is open to debate, and 'tassels' we can talk about, but if it's anything that you think the girls at Peppermint Hippo might wear, then it's not for me.  Also, no underwear that makes it feel as though I am being slowly sawn in half by a piece of damp string.
 Possibly acceptable.

You are getting the point here, aren't you?

I shall await Christmas morning with interest. 

Yours expectantly,

PS I know where you live....

Monday, 14 November 2011

I went to the Fortean Times UnConvention and all I got was a cursed head...

Ah, there you are.  You might have been wondering where I was, of course,since I was absent without leave yesterday, well, I shall tell you.

I was in London.  Actually, I was in a large hall in Camden.  This time I wasn't taking all my clothes off to a dubious cover version of Kylie Minogue... oh.  You didn't know about that?  Well, I think it's a story for another time, actually, although I have to say that I am still finding sequins, and I can't look a tangerine in the face without coming over all peculiar.  No.  I was at Uncon, which is the Convention for those of us fortunate enough to read the Fortean Times.
It looked like this.  Only less green, and there definitely wasn't a vampire behind me on the Tube.  Anyway.  Whilst at UnCon, I listened to a talk about a supposedly cursed head.  It turned out not to be mine!  I've always put my hair down to a particularly virulent curse applied liberally by some Spellmaster of the first order, but the cursed head of the talk didn't even have any hair.  It was carved of stone and had the somewhat bemused but benevolent expression of a headmaster who has taken early retirement and suddenly finds himself in Sainsbury's with no idea what a flagolet bean is.

Reader, I patted him.  I tried to find a picture to show you, but this is the best I could locate.
It's near enough, although looks to me to be more baffled than bemused.  Like he's just sat down and then realised that there's no toilet paper.  Anyway.  I patted the cursed head.  Will report on results, although I have to say that I have no need to buy flagolet beans.  But if I find myself in Sainsbury's wondering what I came in for, I will attribute it to the curse, although my nearest Sainsbury's is 20 miles away, which is a long way to go and not remember why, so there may be no noteworthy results for some time.

I also heard about talking dogs, mummies (the shuffling, bandaged kind, not the procreative female kind, although both descriptions fit my own mother fairly well.  She has a great range of curses as well, you should hear her if she runs out of flagolet beans...), mongooses on the Isle of Man, Sasquatches... and I met a great hero of mine, Jon Downes, who signed a book for me and made my weekend complete.

Right, I'd better go - I've been seized with the urge to go to Sainsbury's, for some reason....

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Why Bruce Forsyth = bonfires and Orlando Bloom is like a toffee apple.

Bonfires are like television.  No, not that they all seem to have Bruce Forsyth on them all the time, or that they are, basically, rubbish, but in the way that people have to watch them.  Last night I saw an enormous crowd of people (OK, probably not that enormous, a few hundred or something, but you have to remember that I don't get out much, and any collection of people that isn't my immediate family looks enormous to me) all staring at a bonfire.  Well, their faces were all pointing in that direction, I have to take it on trust that they were all actually staring at it and not standing with their eyes closed because that would just be a terrible waste.

Which is like television.  When did you last walk into a room where a television was on and not immediately stop to see what it was that was on the screen?  (I'll give you a clue, it had Bruce Forsyth in it). 

Somewhere, Bruce is smouldering...

And I got to wondering... which was nice because basically my brain has been an operational black hole for quite a while, so a bit of wondering was good, I'm really hoping to move up to actual thinking by next week, but not to be too ambitious about it... after all, you can't be too careful with brains, at least you can't with mine, so I'm going to take it slowly.  Anyway.  There I am, wondering... no, not there, you can't see me in the picture.  It's all to do with my natural radiance, which would eclipse the bonfire and prevent the camera from focussing properly.  At least, that's what I was told.... Now I come to think of it, it sounds a bit suspicious, doesn't it?  Hmmm....

So.  Why is it that humans feel the need to stare at fire (and Bruce Forsyth)?  Do we have this primitive urge to watch things burn?  Is it the miracle of primitive power (no, not in Brucie's case...) that makes us cluster around huge piles of flaming objects? 

In my case it's just that I feel the cold really easily.  And there's quite often toffee apples.  These are the Orlando Bloom in the Bruce Forsyth experience, the little piles of yummyness amid the inexplicably eye-catching.

We are not playing the comparison game.  We are NOT.