THE VIEW FROM HERE SEASONALLY confused? If not, consider yourself lucky.
With only a few days to go, if you’re not buzzing around in a state of chaotic tension, you’re either one of those smugfaces who had all their Christmas cards written by the end of November, or else you’ve already had your nervous breakdown, have given up on everything and are sprawled on the sofa with a bottle of tequila and a giant bar of Toblerone, watching Countdown.
The rest of us, frantically holding things together like someone slipping over a crevasse with only a frayed rope for support, are having a dreadful time of it.
We haven’t finished our cards, and every post brings unwelcome news of those we’ve forgotten or thought were dead ("Heavens! Dorothy Doldrums! She must be 104! Oh God, I’d better send her one"), the decorations aren’t up, and the fridge is making a sinister noise and leaking nasty little pools of water.
To make matters worse, Delia ruddy Smith keeps telling us how to achieve the perfect Christmas meal, putting the finishing touches to our homemade Christmas cake, and preparing our turkey in good time so we can relax with our loved ones.
Shut up, Delia! I haven’t made a Christmas cake. As for the turkey, it’ll just have to take its chance in the oven which, like the fridge, is on the blink.
What’s that, Delia? Loosen the skin with my hands and pack the stuffing into the neck end, pushing it up between the flesh and the skin towards the breast? Well, what you and Heston get up to is your own business, but if I actually manage even to buy some stuffing (Make it myself? Don’t be ridiculous), it’ll just be rammed in as usual.
I don’t know what Delia is about, anyway, with all these fancy instructions. Last time I saw her, she and Heston were standing in some sort of empty shed, ditching the glitzy ad out of consideration to all those people who aren’t millionaires like them.
Well, that’s nice. But, like almost everything at Christmas, it’s still confusing. Why did Waitrose do any ad at all if the aim was to donate as much as possible to worthy causes? Even empty sheds come at a cost on primetime telly.
Still, it made them look good. But while I applaud the store’s commitment to local charities, including some excellent ones on the Island, I don’t see the message replicated as we scurry around the supermarket aisles doing our Christmas shopping.
Instead of telling us to avoid that absurd tin of Belgian biscuits and give the money to the poor instead, we’re exhorted to spend, spend, spend. Just pop a token into the charity box on the way out and everything will be lovely.
Yes, it’s definitely confusing. Charities are dependent on the very generous donations which come their way at Christmas, yet most of us also overspend on triviality and unnecessary items. There’s bedlam in the shopping aisles, but a sacred peace in church aisles as a chorister sings that haunting first verse of Once in Royal David’s City.
I expect God has it all in hand. After all, he organised a pretty confusing first Christmas, didn’t he? Overbooked hotels, mucky stables, a very whoops-a-daisy childbirth, angels suddenly popping up in fields and opulent gifts from royalty.
So perhaps it’s all supposed to be like that, even now, the glory and the tawdry, the sublime and the ridiculous.
Happy Christmas to you all, whatever you’re doing. And if, like mine, your fridge is on the blink, I recommend a large glass of wine and some uplifting carols, after which it will somehow cease to matter.
Penthouse pals not welcome at Hofton House
While a certain degree of disorder reigns down here in my little basement, it is as nothing compared to what is going on in the penthouse suite on this page.
My neighbour, Mr Newbery, who occupies this swanky apartment, has put up the most vulgar string of flashing lights around his picture windows, guzzling electricity and causing my own bijou fairy twinklers to fuse on several occasions.
He’s also erected an appalling 7ft DayGlo fibre-optic tree, and hung a lurid green Spandex’n’tinsel wreath on his door.
Malc Lawrence and Grumpy Greening are in every night, knocking back Christmas punch and sausage rolls, and chortling about the time Fred Winter got stuck in a snowdrift and they had to dig him out with a cricket bat.
No wonder my fridge and oven aren’t working properly. Every time Malc Lawrence charges up his Brite-Lite electric red nose, there’s a surge in the power supply, and my basement goes dark.
I was going to ask them in for a glass of ginger cordial but I can’t face it. Mr Newbery might come in his Santa hat and that would be the last straw.