Lights, Tinsel, Action


I know that for retailers everywhere, Christmas starts just after the last pumpkin has been carved, but this trend is now starting to spread. Driving down the road in my village, I spied a couple of houses that has started to put up lights; this being the end of November.

Now that we have officially be dragged into December, the number of houses with Christmas decorations has blossomed. It is like they have had everything ready in their hallways, just waiting for the strike of midnight on the 30th November.

Now I must admit to thinking about expanding my own array of Christmas lights outside the house this year. My rose bush draped in blue lights was certainly a spectacle last year, but I want to go a bit further this year. I won’t go as far as having lights around the gutter as I don’t think I can handle the height, so it will have to be something a little nearer the ground. jean-michel-jarre-33

I have seen\ the newest decoration this year, the lights and symbols projected on the front of the house. Although it looks nice, I can’t help but think it will just make my house look like the venue for a Jean Michel Jarre concert.

I’m thinking that I might go a bit more tasteful and try a star in the window and two frolicking reindeer on the front lawn.

The one thing that will make its annual appearance is the front door wreath. It has adorned our front door for many years now and is still in good condition. It is funny how families have one thing that always comes every Christmas. For my mum it was an old bell with a music box inside that played ‘Silent Night’ at varying speeds every time you pilled the clapper. She also had an old cut-out Father Christmas picture made out of card, that I suspect was just an old Coca Cola advert.

At least with all the outdoor lights, the village looks really pretty. It will be something to look at until January the 1st when the hot cross buns go back on sale.




My Three Favourite Christmas Songs

Now, I don’t usually like doing these list things, even though they are supposed to be popular with readers. The reason is that I don’t usually have a list of things that I want to write about, so I would rather write posts that interest me and then hopefully you. However, I heard a Christmas song while in Starbucks today that reminded me of a movie I have always loved. However, my wife wasn’t so enamoured with the song so I wondered what my favourite Christmas songs were.

Fairytale of New York – The Pogues

My wife also hates this song (can you see a pattern here?), but even though it is basically a song about two people having an argument, it has a thread of hope from despair that I like. I also love the voice of Kirsty MacColl, she is so expressive in her singing and funny as well.

Mele Kalikimaka – Bing Crosby

This was the song that I heard today, and though it is a good song in its own right, It will always be associated with the film National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. It is sung by the great Bing Crosby who also sung White Christmas. I think it was once voted the best Christmas song which surprised me.

I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday – Wizard

I’m not sure I would want it to be Christmas everyday, but I like this song. It always seems to get me into the Christmas spirit which after all the Christmas shopping is something I need.

Although these are three of my favourite songs, I also have a soft spot for others including Shakin Stevens, Merry Christmas Everyone and Slade, Merry Christmas Everybody. You notice I haven’t included any Cliff Richard in here!

Pass the Bacon Please


Now, if there are any vegetarians out there, I apologise in advance, but this post is about bacon.

I have recently heard a story in the news about a national bacon shortage that was gripping the UK. I must say that I didn’t believe it, and thought that it was just fake news or someone looking to cause widespread panic. However, my initial thoughts were wrong, very wrong.

Just a couple of days later, I drove into my favourite fast food restaurant (the one with the clown), and found a frightening note taped to the drive-thru intercom. In so many words, it said that all food containing bacon wasn’t available.

After I had dried the tears from my eyes and gone through the whole gambit of emotions when mourning, I decided to go elsewhere. It struck me though how much of an affinity we have with some foods, whether it is because we have always loved them, or that we have recently discovered them.

Until such time as the bacon shortage is resolved, I will be sitting in a dark room watching bacon on my computer.

The Tree Goes Up, The Tree Goes Down


For the past two Christmases, we have somehow ended up with a kitten running around. In fact, last year we had siblings that were only a couple of months old. We thoroughly enjoyed their playing and chasing balls, but when it came time to put up the Christmas tree, things turned ugly.

Last year, we at least had the head start of being able to get the tree up and decorated. This year however, we weren’t so lucky. No sooner had we assembled the tree, then our kitten Cinnamon was climbing halfway up to get a good view of the proceedings. The lights were on and things were progressing well until the tinsel and baubles. As soon as my wife and daughter started to place them on the tree, Cinnamon stuck out a paw and flicked it off again. For every three they put up, she would flick two off.

I came back in from putting lights on our rose bush to see the two of them frantically trying to replace the baubles Cinnamon had thrown off. There was much laughing (from me) and exasperation from them.

24831102_10156088289369391_7582746269325480579_o It was at this point that one of the kittens from last year, Felix, decided to come home. When he saw the tree that he had so successfully dismantled last year, he was overcome with the need to try again. A lot bigger and now a year old, he made more of an impression on the tree than last Christmas, and was able to do far more damage.

We decided that it would be best to leave the tree for now, and start again tomorrow when they are all asleep.

Choosing a Choice I Wouldn’t Choose to Choose


So, I was having a in-depth discussion with the good wife today about choosing to do things that ultimately caused me frustration. I’m not talking about choosing to put my socks on, or choosing to get my daughter ready for school. I mean, choosing to do something or go somewhere that I know will make me frustrated and even angry.

I guess there are many who would say that going to work is much like that, but that doesn’t apply to me. I guess I have been thinking a lot lately about doing things I want to do, not things I feel I have to do. Life is full of choices, but if you can see a pattern to them that you don’t think is beneficial, then isn’t it time to change your choices?

I’m I learning to place myself and my family first, or am I just getting cantankerous in my old age? I’m not against helping people or even being there when people need me, in fact, that makes me feel like I have made a difference. It is just that does the sense of accomplishment get outweighed by the negatives?

I guess this is more of a spiritual question than anything else, and I’m sure the correct path will be showed to me eventually.

The Artificial Knee Company

This week I have been thinking about the things I learn as a writer. Writing for so many clients, I have to do research on many different subjects. I often think of myself as Jabez Wilson, the red headed pawnbroker in the Sherlock Holmes story ‘The Red Headed League.’

In that story, Jabez Wilson was duped by his assistant Vincent Spaulding who was working for the notorious Professor Moriarty. Spalding sent Wilson to an office of the Red Headed League who wanted him to copy out the Encyclopaedia Britannica for a nominal wage. In actual fact, the league was a distraction so that Spaulding could dig a tunnel from the shops cellar to the bank next door.

I sometimes think of myself as Jabez Wilson, sitting there researching all manner of things from American law to Mexican history. Just to note, I don’t have a cellar and I don’t have red hair. 

It is actually the best part of my work, that I can learn so much about other countries and cultures that I might never have known before. I also know a lot about American garage doors, but that’s beside the point.

P.S Points awarded if you know what the title of this post is about.

Confirmation Anniversery

04c492b2bed108134e54f339b61d031aWith my first year anniversary of being confirmed upon me, I have been looking to how my faith has changed over the years. I have also been thinking a lot about my faith in general, which for me can be a good or bad thing.

To say that my relationship with God has been tumultuous would be an understatement. I have always believed that God existed from the earliest I can remember, but, I haven’t always wanted to follow him. Like many people I guess, it can be easy to blame God for the things that go wrong instead of looking towards yourself, and I have done my share of blame in the past.

With age, hopefully, comes wisdom and the understanding that only you can make things happen and only you are responsible for your mistakes. It has led me to think of my religion as a support, a way of learning to accept who I am and what I can give to others. When I went to the confirmation celebration at Canterbury Cathedral, I was struck by the number of people who have found peace and happiness from discovering their faith.

Everyone who attended looked so happy and confident in their belief that I have to admit I was a little jealous. I haven’t reached that level in my own journey yet, and I’m not sure I ever will. My anxiety on some days is such that simply getting through the day is an achievement. It can sometimes make me solitary, which is a little at odds with an active church life. Although I do what I can, it is one of the more frustrating things about anxiety. Trying to muster the will to do anything, even something I know I will love because I also know I will have to deal with a battle inside my head.

It is a cruel irony that my favorite time of year, both in the church calendar and at home is Christmas. I love the build-up and the services that happen, the old-fashioned Christmas movies, the carols and of course, Christmas TV. I also love the meaning of Christmas, and the message it sends to everyone, but it is also the worst time of year for my anxiety. It makes going to these amazing events and services all the more difficult and frustrating.

Maybe it is my faith along with my family that has kept me going, maybe without it, I would have given up long ago. Perhaps God does more for me than I realise?

Why do we Have Pets?

This was a question that my wife and I have been pondering over the past week or so. Mainly because one of our youngest cats Ebony has gone missing. She is not quite a year old and is the most gentle and loving cat we have ever had. She never ventured outside the garden, yet one night she went out and never returned.

My daughter was, as you can imagine, enormously upset. She went around our village with her friends trying to find her and we also put up posters on every tree in the area. Unfortunately, there was still no sign and things seem final.

Every time we have lost a pet, through old age or illness, or loss, we have always asked the question, ‘why do we do it?’ Maybe it’s because that apart from our dog, all of our animals have been rescued. Even our disabled rabbit was saved from an animal auction when my wife couldn’t bear the thought of it going somewhere bad. We can’t let an animal that is going to suffer, stay where it is, we have to give it a good home.

However, we still go through all of the upset and pain of losing them, yet we go through it all again the next time. We open up our hearts to those that depend on us for food and shelter, knowing that they will almost certainly die before us and leave us heartbroken. Maybe it’s because we as humans are sociable animals at heart, we hate the thought of being on our own. If we were pets in a shop window, there would be a sign next to us saying ‘Must be kept in groups.’

Whatever the reason, Ebony will not be the last to join our family, and she won’t be the last that we lose. However, for us, the companionship and love that they give us outweighs the sadness to come. After all, if we stopped doing something because we knew it would eventually end, we wouldn’t do anything at all.



A Barbeque You Can Eat Off

It suddenly occurred to me as I was scrubbing our barbeque, just how many people actually clean theirs? I know at least one person who doesn’t and they are still alive, so I wondered if I was just being over cautious.

I know being over cautious is in my blood, but maybe I am taking things a bit too far. I always scrub the grill on the barbeque and today I even scrubbed the burner covers even though they get nowhere near the food. I’m pretty sure soon I will be scrubbing the whole thing including the wheels.

I have always had a thing about eating from barbeques, not so much my own because I have control of that, but anyone else’s and I get anxious. I think part of it was that advert many years ago when the food standards agency showed someone eating a raw sausage and said something like you will die!

Actually, I’m pretty sure they didn’t say that, but my anxious shadow translates it as such. In fact, it is fair to say that my anxious shadow translates pretty much everything into you will die! Like that game where you have to get from one celebrity to another by logical steps. Only the last step is always you will die!

I guess at least it means I have a clean barbeque.