We’re nearly there, just our XY & Z triple bill tomorrow to go!
Wishing for wondrous whiteness but the winter weather washes us in watery gloom.
Walnut Whip: Christmas is one of the few times of the year when these seem to be on sale. There they sit in a box, 3 all in a row. When unwrapped I always thought as a child they looked rather like a chocolate Christmas tree with the walnut as the angel on the top.
They are a treat, as you try to decide which way to eat them. For me the walnut is crunched first. Then inside lies the whipped mallow center. Nibbled slowly, they are hardly the most elegant chocolate treat or the easiest thing to eat. However by the time you have finished the first one you can’t decide if you feel sickly from it or to just carry on eating the rest. By the time I’ve eaten all 3 I’ve had quite enough and next Christmas is soon enough for the walnut whip to enter our house again.
Wensleydale: Cheese, cheese, cheese, and more cheese, please! Hard ones, soft ones, runny ones, rubbery ones, mild ones, stinky ones, rindy ones, veiny ones, holey ones, solid ones, cottage ones and mouldy ones – cheese is the gift that’s bound to please, so bring it oooon…
Sadly, my metabolism is crap, so no matter how enthusiastic I might be about cheese I have to temper my enjoyment and consumption accordingly.
Of course, massive weight gain isn’t the only reason for watching one’s cheese consumption – there’s the coronary considerations, the farting factor and the night terrors to contend with too. And indigestion. But those things aside it’s lovely stuff, especially when served with an assortment of equally unhealthy, fattening, belch-inducing crackers. And pickles. Laaaavly.
We Three Kings: (of Orient are). I am not a great one for traditional carols. They are alright on the first verse, but by the second its dragging and by the last verse I am ready to stop. This week signing at choir we went over the carols, as it is the season. We three kings was the next on the list. However I found this very difficult to sing with a straight face; all I could remember was the version we sung at school:
‘ We three kings of Orient are, one in a taxi one in a car one on a scooter beeping his hooter, didn’t get very far…’
I think this version is great and certainly puts a smile on my face when I’m singing it.
White Christmas: A single snowflake falls at one minute to midnight on December 25th at a weather station in Aberdeen and officially it’s a White Christmas. Bookmakers across the country reluctantly prepare to pay out.
On the basis of the Met Office’s definition, 38 of the last 58 Christmas’s in the UK have been ‘white’, with the last one occurring in 2010. But a proper covering of ‘deep and crisp and even’ snow at Christmas is a much rarer occurrence and more likely to happen in the Scottish Highlands than in Tunbridge Wells.
Unlikely it may be, but images of a White Christmas are all around us at this time of year.
It’s in the music. Bing recalls glistening treetops, listening children and sleighbells. Carol singers warble of a Bleak Midwinter and of Wenceslas and his long-suffering servant making their way through the bitter weather.
It’s in books. Ghosts conduct Scrooge around the snow-covered streets of the past, present and future. And four children go through a wardrobe into an icy land which is waiting for Christmas to come.
It’s in the familiar films repeated and repeated and repeated. Angelic choirboy Aled Jones sings while a snowman walks in the air. And James Stewart wanders through snowy streets, before eventually discovering that life is wonderful.
(An aside: ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was filmed in sweltering June weather. The technicians on the film invented a new form of fake snow – based on fire extinguisher foam – which was used on films from then on. Previously cornflakes painted white had been used, but they crunched so loudly that dialogue often had to be dubbed).
It’s in the Christmas trees decorated with artificial snow towering over Christmas shoppers and in the millions of cards which are sent featuring rotund snowmen, rosy robins perched on snowy branches and shepherds watching their sheep in white-covered fields. (The last in Palestine, not a country known for its heavy snowfall).
On wet, grey December days, the idea of White Christmas may seem unreal and it feels like it’s been commercialised, along with much else at this time of year. But if we let it, Christmas can also be about the suspension of disbelief and cynicism. About magic. If we use our imagination we can feel the crisp chill of a winter’s day, hear the clear sound of laughter and see snow-covered trees bathed in bright light. So let’s dream.
WINTER WONDERLAND: Frozen in the memory, a film world of snow and sleigh bells. In the worlds generated by Hollywood or Phil Spector it was always a Winter Wonderland of icy delights and love affairs, surprise gifts and cosy sweaters. For the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, it was always winter but never Christmas, while Slade and Roy Wood would have us in a permanent Christmas. Aided by The Snowman flying through the air, and even a Fairytale of New York, fiction, film and music have created a Christmas that is probably unachievable. As the magical white Christmas ideal of the 1960s fades, we are offered ‘Theme Worlds’ of polar bears, penguins and Father Christmas, and even overnight trips to Lapland to experience the real thing. Confronted by a real Britain covered in snow, most people complain as they can’t drive anywhere and “our train system just can’t cope”, while muddy, wonky faced snowmen linger in gardens as the pavements thaw and re-freeze into lethal ice-rinks. Somehow that magical world where all your dreams come true (due to snow and Santa) is better in a book, in a film, or singing out of the department store doors… Search out ‘Holiday Inn’ and enjoy, it’s sure to just rain hard in the UK this Yuletide.
The incense gives off a mystic perfume which hangs in the air
But is not strong enough to mask the sweat and stink of the animals
He kneels to pay homage
Acknowledges a King
Presents his gift
But this has been an altogether unexpected end to his travelling.
(This is the final stanza of a four part poem. The full poem can be found HERE.)
Woolworths: Don’t you miss it? Yes, me too. We all do, I think. And their wonderful Christmas adverts. What a pity we all switched to buying our crap from Amazon. And I bet Woolworths paid their taxes. And their staff. All those Saturday jobs for 14-16yr olds. Bugger. Shot ourselves in the foot there, ennit?
Featured Writer: Anne Cawardine (White Christmas and Wise Man). Additional Contributors: Katherine Loverage, Peppy Scott, David Smith.