Seeing as it’s Christmas I suppose the nicest poem I’ve written ought to be plugged. I’m still quite happy with it, especially the first and last couple of lines, which are after all always the most important.
Moving on, a colleague (the same colleague who provided the Halloween tale as re-recounted during my stint on Bryan’s blog) furnishes me with another excellent seasonal story, this time concerning her mother and Christmas.
It seems that the admirable woman took a very strict egalitarian line on matters of wealth distribution in general, and on the matter of Christmas presents for her three children in particular. First, she would set a budget – eg. £30 per child. She would then would buy appropriate presents, wrap them and put them under the tree. So far, so ordinary. But where this household deviated from the norm was in that each child would also receive, along with his or her gifts, a cheque for the precise outstanding balance of their Christmas allowance. So if their mother spent £24.50 on presents, they would receive a cheque for £5.50. There was no lower limit to the amount of this payment; my colleague says that it was quite normal to receive a cheque for, say, 43 pence.
Remarkably, or possibly not, the old lady continues the fair but unromantic habit to this day, both with her grandchildren and their parents.
On the theme of eccentric parents, I am suddenly and unaccountably reminded of an old university chum, who described how his father would precede the consumption of his Sunday lunch by taking a moist piece of crackling between index finger and thumb, throwing back his head, opening his mouth wide and sliding the fatty titbit up and down his gullet. “Just greasin’ ma throat”, he would announce by way of justification for this ceremony.
At Christmas I usually like to read a bit of Dickens to get me in the festive mood. Dickens is criticised for many things, such as sentimentality (rightly) and excessive prolixity (also rightly but more forgivably). But the argument that he exaggerates the eccentricity of his characters, creating grotesque caricatures rather than real humans, is, I think, misplaced. People really are that odd, especially when you get to know them.
Anyway, Merry Christmas and God bless us, every one.