Wednesday, 4 December 2013
The Christmas Tree
This is doubly galling since I've just come back from a strenuous game of squash, and had spent a couple of hours down the allotment this week - in the open air (the best medicine we're now being told).
God knows how the average Daily Mail reader would score.
Currently I'm rather pre-occupied with completing the tax returns for my wife's business. It's either that or putting on another load of washing and iron a few sheets and shirts. Alternatively, I could load some pictures of the recent shadow puppet show onto our neighbourhood blog. I will have to put out the rubbish for the dustmen who come tomorrow (at any time of their choosing).
We had choir practise last night for the Street Carols later this month. One of the difficulties of organising anything I find is getting people to regularly turn up. Last night was a case in point with only half the choir there to run through a number of unfamiliar and (I thought) difficult numbers.
Being retired I forget that most people have jobs, young kids, other important calls on their time. No matter how keen they are to help out life gets in the way. Last night it was work and domestics that prevented those people attending.
This year we have a local school choir helping out at our street carols. Around 20 little nippers will be enchanting the neighbourhood with their angelic voices and faces. Fat chance!
We've managed to rustle up a Santa Claus, he's a professional actor and playwright (resting at the moment). A call to arms has got us a Santa suit, and we've bought the Christmas tree which will stand in the middle of the road bedecked, we hope, with lights, if we can find last year's which the missus thinks she put in the loft.
We have loft insulation - about 6 inches of foam and 4 feet of (useful) junk. I'm thinking of buying shares in Big Yellow storage. If most homes are like ours there's a mint to be made in persuading people to de-clutter , emptying their lofts and turning the space into a cinema.
Last year we bought a real tree. It was lovely, except it had no roots. We placed it in a large trug and packed about a bag of coal around the trunk to keep it upright. Worked a treat; except after the Carols the tree in the trug with the lumps of coal stayed on our patio for about 3 months. Initially we kept the Christmas lights on the tree and religiously switched them on at night - they twinkled on and off - lovely.
By about mid February, we got a bit bored with the lights. The tree remained in rude health with no sign of pine needle droop or drop. By mid March, we decided that the contents of a sack of coal (costing £14.50) was of more use on the fire than holding up a superannuated Christmas tree.
Whilst the Council might go that extra mile to take away cast out Xmas trees shortly after Christmas; a large conifer sticking out of the garden waste bin in late March was a bridge too far as far as they were concerned. I swear the rubbish men carry around with them the terms of their contract with the council and the list of banned, prohibited or plain not countenanced items they will not remove . Ex Christmas tree sticking out of the garden waste bin in late March is one such item.
This year, having learnt the lesson, we've purchased an artificial tree - from B & Q. I went on line typed in "artificial Christmas trees" and was offered a cornucopia of alternatives. B&Q had the one I wanted. I ordered it and was able to pick up the item at our local store. Which I did the next day after a very nice lady phoned me to let me know that it was ready to collect, but only for that day.
I don't know about you, but B&Q and exciting, stimulating shopping experiences does not compute. This huge hanger like building, with sullen staff in uniforms that hadn't seen soap and water for an age and equally sullen customers, mainly men with six o'clock shadows and blood shot eyes, was not my store of choice.
It took an age to attract the attention of the one member of staff manning the self service tills. After a military style interrogation - I gave him my order number but that was not sufficient - my tree was released from its cage. The self service experience was different, it taking numerous attempts to get the bloody minded pin machine to recognise and then accept my card - no I didn't have a B&Q Silver Shopper Saver card.
We have our artificial, reusable Christmas tree supplied with its own stand - no need to tie up a sack of coal ( now costing £15.75). We can use it next year....if we can retrieve it from the Tardis that is our loft.