And so, to the chimera hinterland between Christmas and New Year – the time 12th Century Dutch scholars called Deroes Maakte Omhoogdit (which means, quite literally, Whirl made this up).
The tree still stands, buckling under the weight of its festive glory, yet something of the Christmas spirit has passed. The star atop its highest spiny limb now heralds the arrival of the New Year rather than a trio of wise men bearing Ferrero Rocher.
In our calorie haze, we pause to look both forward and back, reflecting on what has been and pondering what is to come while elderly relatives try to knock back the last of the Dalwhinnie without us noticing.
As we ponder an immutable past (which already buckles beneath our gaze like a devious phantom) and gaze into the same future as always (the one that hasn’t happened yet, no matter how much we try to buck the speculative odds), it’s worth remembering the timeless words of His Divine Munificence, The Yeged-Godi.
“Between each fridge magnet and fridge, a slip of air so wafer-thin as to be breathable only by the tiniest of micro-organisms.”
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Just time for one final swoop over the nest before Christmas.
The nest of my followers.
Fluffy, joyful, all.
Hatched from the eggs of enthusiasm.
Bound for horizons of wonder.
With tiny beaks a-chirp.
And feathers whistling through the breeze.
In hats, maybe hats of all colours.
Or those fluffy Snoopy lounge suits you can get – the ones for slobbing around in between Masterchef and Newsnight.
That’s what I’m wearing now, as I swoop.
Because swooping under is technically dive-bombing, and would pre-suppose your nest languishes in an eyrie (along with Dave Hill, perhaps) or atop some other bizarre geological structure with air directly below it rather than earth.
A mountain or an outcrop, say.
But no, your nest is in a tree, a plain and simple oak tree.
A clutch of twigs between the verdant leaves and acorns.
I pause in mid-flight wondering, “is it oaks that have acorns?” but I’m too busy swooping to Google it.
No iPhone, anyhow.
And if I tried to access Whattreewhatseed.com in mid-air, I could easily veer off course and meet with disaster.
My beak cracked against the side of the mountain.
(Despite the tree not being a mountain, it is in fact next to one).
Or the nest.
For, yes, I picked the hardest and thickest twigs to protect you.
Actually, they’re more like logs.
Which is why the tree is bent over.
And why I’d miss it if I were accessing Google, and fly headlong into the mountain.
But none of this is going to happen.
Because they’re acorns for the purpose of this swoop, right or wrong.
Or that swoop, should I say.
Sometimes you can get so preoccupied you forget what you’re doing.
So I’ll wing may way back round and swoop again.
Thinking of Christmas.
Such a time of cheer.
In the relentless, tormenting darkness.
That was a joke by the way.
About the cheer.
(But less funny than the first).
(Not that the first was funny anyway).
(But you get the idea.)
(About what a magical time Christmas is).
(Figgy pudding, Morecambe and Wise, and always, always , always, some ropey Channel 5 show featuring unknown (and not very good) magicians performing well known (yet badly done) tricks).
(Personally, I only trust Paul Daniels to make things disappear.
And it’s sad to think that one day, he’ll disappear himself.
Though it won’t be magic.
So this is why it’s important to treasure Christmas.
It’s not about the tinsel, the presents, the feasts, the boozing and the endless games of Race Round The Living Room with grandma and granddad in wheelbarrows.
Even though it feels like it most of the time.
Christmas is for caring and sharing, maybe even coming over uncharacteristically schmalzy.
And doing so with those you love.
Including the cat.
Or a dog if you have one.
Or cockroaches, if you’re Polenth.
Also, your followers.
Who I’ve missed once again btw thanks to a second distracted swoop.
No idea how, as I see you’re now waving banners and have laid out a runway of cheese slices.
Three things to say about that.
I’ll swoop round again and land this time, promise.
Second, thanks for caring.
It brings tears to my eyes.
Thirdly, you should have knitted leaves together for the runway.
We’re supposed to be nibbling Olive-Stuffed Cheesy Gondolae before the turkey, remember?
Without the Gondolae, the olives will roll about all over the place.
And the Gondoliers will have nothing to do.
Pelt us with nuts as we eat, crying, “you’ve stolen our livelihoods, you fiends!”
Whatever you do, don’t make it a rolling runway by using up all the pickled onions.
Save them for bargaining with the Gondoliers.
“Two onions each if you promise to lay off the nuts.”
“And, yes, you can sleep on the pudding till we eat it.”
Coming in to land now.
So this is technically post-swoop, pre-alighting.
And then we can get down to the festivities.
In our Snoopy lounge suits and our assortment of crazy festive hats.
So thanks for stopping by.
Thanks for snuggling in my nest.
Without too much biting, punching or chainsaw wielding.
(Gowan, try it – there’s no socket).
Have a merry Christmas.
And I’ll see you again when the last scraps of the turkey have been sandwiched.
(Or droplets of Butter Bean & Parsnip Pilaff spread on toast if you’re a vegetarian).
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
This is the Luxury Bird Feeder Girly of Whirly and I purchased last weekend to help all the neighbourhood wildlife eke out the misery over Christmas.
That’s right — half a coconut shell packed with compacted Alpen two years past its sell-by date.
To be honest, we might as well have stuffed a load of polystyrene packing blobbules in a Nazi stormtrooper’s helmet and hung it up on a gallows.
Not a peck, not a scratch, not a chip of squirrel machete.
All my base are belong to Sweet Fanny Adams, it seems.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Today marks my official run-up to Christmas.
Yes, the tree has been up for a week, and yes, we have lots of festive snow, and yes, I’ve started on the whiskey a couple of days early (along with the chocolates, the Satsumo wrestlers, the nuts and the stray sultanas that didn’t make the pudding), but today we have our first guests, our first shot at Holiday Wii, and Son of Whirl and I get to cook a full Sunday roast in our matching pinnies.
I don’t profess to being the greatest entertainer on the planet, but here are a few tips I’ve found useful for those of you hosting gatherings of friends and family this year.
1. My Mum always used to decorate up the pictures hung in our living room with tinsel and spare baubles from the tree. I’ve since found this works especially well if said pictures are replaced with placards reading CHEER UP, YOU MISERABLE BUGGERS.
2. Pets, too, can be similarly adorned. Geoff has a wooly glove we converted into a fairy light display of wonder when she was a kitten, and though she can’t roam far when she’s strapped and plugged in, she radiates Christmas cheer year after year. That said, she could do with a bigger glove now she’s 17...
3. Never, ever, treat yourself to weird-sounding “luxury” cheeses.
4. Got an irritating uncle? A horrid granny? Some other relative you don’t want round but can’t not invite? Why not convert your garden shed into a scintillatingly festive Lapland grotto, complete with animatronic Santa, elves and reindeer, and lock him or her securely inside till well after New Year?
5. Ironing Brussel Sprouts isn’t ‘Blumenthal’ — it’s just stupid.
6. Lacing the pre-feast glasses of sherry with crumbled indigestion tablets can cut out no end of fuss later on.
7. Never, ever, ever hire out a live bear for the kids to pet.
8. Coins inserted into the Christmas pudding should be thoroughly washed beforehand. To prevent any notes from going soggy, roll them up inside the casing of an old biro and seal at both ends with Blu-tak. Same goes for cheques.
9. Scour your back catalogue of Christmas music for any trace of Gary Glitter. Nothing kills a family celebration stone dead quicker than a predatory paedophile in silver platforms.
10. Tired of traditional party games? Out of batteries for the Wii? Why not Bazuka That Verruca?
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
This weekend has been nominated as The One.
This is when the Christmas decorations will be dredged from their attic boxes and hung about the place, when the spent wax of 2009 will be plucked from 2005's tinsel and umpteen Santas ironed/glued.
If things go according to plan, it should take an afternoon: one hour to put everything up, two hours to find everything in the attic, and three hours making trips to B&Q to get all the bloody lights working. So glad I never invested in an animatronic reindeer when they were all the rage.
Last weekend was definitely too early, and March 15th clearly too late, and since most homes in my humble little row of olde worlde cottages have yet to display a single luminous elf, I’m guessing my neighbours plan to go with this weekend too.
What will be interesting this year, given the current climate of austerity hobby horsing on prior greed, is whether the people normally responsible for draining third world countries of their power will erect their full complement of all-singing all-dancing all-bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzing neon Lapland chic.
Will, for instance, my street be negotiable in vehicles larger than a baby buggy c/o Mr Weird Moustache dropping from his retina-searing festive display the ten foot incandescent snowman?
Will the ludicrous wobbly reindeer strapped to the roof of number 22 once more serve as a lighthouse for aliens wishing not to crash into the Earth on their way from Pluto to the Everward Crests of Zubaluba VII?
And the flashing SANTA STOP HERE signs? Will their numbers actually gift said miraculous toy bringer a genuinely possible choice? Some instead of all, so he’s actually got time to savour a Kit Kat or two on the way round, the poor bugger?
In my youth, we had no candle bridges, no triple-sized rocket powered sleight orbiting the roof, and only the one set of fairy lights. And Santa was my Dad.
Simple times, so long ago, and yet so close, so—
oh to hell with it, you know what I’m angling to repost...