Best Carols from Kings we can remember, we thought. Even a reading from Rilke (Annunciation to Mary, can't find a decent link, and it was a better translation than the Leishman I have), and some of those wonderful mediaeval extrapolations like The Cherry Tree Carol. It's not the mawkish, emblazoned Victorian disingenuousness of Once in Royal, or even the lone chorister really that gets to me, it's the procession in front of the Rubens painting. After that I'm sold, usually until it gets to the tuneless modern carol where I start to get bored, but which was blessedly absent this year, so I stayed sold. Brings out the reactionary English nostalgic wannabe Anglican in me, so I catch myself thinking: 'My brothers and sisters of the Republics of the Enlightenment, thanks for everything, your Declarations and Bills of Rights, your Liberty,Equality and Fraternity and your Pursuit of Happiness, your Bastille Day parades and your movie industries and all and all, but you have nothing to touch this.'
A sober looking letter from our DIY store this morning, which on closer examination concerned the heated towel rail we had bought and installed in the bathroom adjacent to my blue room, and used only intermittently, until this summer when we went to turn it on for visitors and found that it was malfunctioning, flickering on the display and generally not co-operating. We cursed it as out of guarantee, and the receipt long-since lost, pulled the wires from the wall and abandoned it indefinitely. Now it seems The Appliance (in its universal, Platonic sense) has been deemed unsafe, and on the presentation of said letter, and after signing an attestation that we will remove and destroy the appliance (in its specific sense of the one we bought) from our home, we receive a credit note for the original price and a voucher for 30 euros for our trouble. It must be Christmas.
We had the chimney swept, not before time, the house was beginning to smell of sooty kippers. The young man who came, at 5.30 pm, spent a good 45 minutes on the job, quietly and efficiently, and cleaned the whole hearth area, apologised several times for bringing a minimal amount of dirt in with him, and left the whole place smelling sweet. He charged a very reasonable amount, and had several more jobs to go to before he was finished for the day. I often think there's a kind of quiet and modest heroism about people who do jobs like this. Now it's like having a lovely new fireplace, which doesn't smoke at all.
The organic butcher we screwed up our courage and took out a mortgage to buy some of our festive eats from finds us a good-looking piece of pork skin for crackling. We have to explain that we eat it ourselves, and how we prepare it. One butcher thought we want it to put in some kind of rat trap or something. Another occasion gave rise to the dialogue which we have enjoyed in the retelling ever since
Butcher: You eat that? It's full of cholesterol!
We: So what do you normally do with it?
Butcher: We put it in the charcuterie.
This butcher seemed genuinely interested in the preparation of crackling though.
Some birthday cards before I took them down before Christmas. Funny how often my birthday cards co-ordinate tastefully with one another. This year's theme seemed to be black and white and rosy reds, including a couple of beautiful ones from people's own photos (the sweet-pea from the Fire Bird and the seascape from B the German Doctor),
This one, from my Lovely Sister,
gives an impression of how I would like to spend this Christmas.
Gnostic Angel has had Christmas transfiguration.
Best gift of all, Molly is still with us, short-sighted and hard-of-hearing (to put it mildly) and with sundry little elderly troubles, but basically well and happy and scrounging sausage roll pastry.
My guest stint curating at Clive Hicks-Jenkins Artlog for the Alphabet Soup exhibition draws to it's close. It's been a blast. I have fallen behind with posting links to it here, but do get over and look at it; there's been a dazzling array from Fluttering fairies to Meso-American myths to gruesome Greek harridans, culminating in Clive's own covetably delicious Hansel and Gretel.
But I must say, after a week or so of groping my way inexpertly around a Wordpress blog, I'm much relieved to be back with Blogger, whatever it's shortcomings, it really is easier. And apologies for neglecting blog reading and commenting, which I look forward to catching up with.
And so to bed. Merry Christmas to all.