BEST WISHES TO READERS AND WRITERS EVERYWHERE.
THANKS TO FELLOW BLOGGERS FOR SHARING EVERYTHING FROM DOMESTIC DISASTERS TO GLOBAL TRAVELS AND WRITING TRAVAILS.
THANKS FOR ALL THE ADVICE, SHARING AND OF COURSE THE JOKES.
Sunday Salon’s guest blogger sums up perfectly, for me and many of us, Xmas Musac. What do you like to hear at this time of year?
By the time this post is published I will have heard Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas’, Slade’s ‘So Here it is, Merry Christmas’, Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, Wizard’s ‘I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day’ [a nightmare scenario in my opinion], Shakin Stevens’ ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’, Band Aid’s ‘Do they Know it’s Christmas?’ and all the rest of the sorry, repetitive regurgitation of Christmas musical tat that is on a loop everywhere at this time of year, about 1000 times.
You have to feel some empathy for the hapless shop assistants. Not only must they pander to the whims of increasingly irritable customers whilst wearing ‘amusing’ festive jumpers, hats or elf outfits but must also suffer the incessant caterwauling of the aforementioned Christmas songs; an assault to the ears, a type of audio Chinese water torture.
I am not so much of a Humbug. I like the lights…
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Post Office Lady: ‘Six pounds ninety six pence please.’
Alan: ‘Sorry, I only wanted a book of TWELVE SECOND CLASS stamps.’
Post Office Lady: ‘Yes, six pounds ninety six pence…’
Alan: ‘What! How much are… never mind, just give me one stamp to post this letter.’
Lynne: ‘What do you mean Alan, virtual Christmas Cards?’
Alan: ‘I can design my own card, e-mail it.’
Lynne: ‘But I’ve already bought the cards.’
Alan: ‘Use those for the hand deliveries. We’re not posting at that price.’
Lynne: ‘What about mother?’
Alan: ‘She’s got e-mail.’
Lynne: ‘She only looks at it once a month, she wouldn’t know how to download or whatever it is you do.’
Alan: ‘She’ll manage, it will be in Jay PeG – JPG.’
Lynne: ‘How will you design a card?’
Alan: ‘Use one of my photos, that nice snowy scene I took on the golf course.’
Lynne: ‘The week before they found that body in the copse after the snow melted? That’s not very nice.’
Alan: ‘Your mother won’t know.’
Lynne: ‘They never found who did it, did they?’
Xmas Day at Lynne’s mother’s house
Lynne: ‘Oh, you’ve got a new painting Mother, is it an Impressionist?’
Lynne’s mother: ‘It’s the Christmas card you sent.’
Alan: ‘It can’t be, that wasn’t real.’
Lynne’s mother: ‘Sean next door came round to help me with my e-mails, I didn’t know what all those higgledy piggledy letters and numbers were. He put it on a stick and took it to work; they’ve got an A2 printer. Hey presto, the biggest card I’ve ever had.’
Lynne: ‘Your photograph doesn’t look very good blown up Alan. Oh who’s that near the trees in a red jumper, I thought nobody was out playing that day. No hang on, that’s not a golf club he’s got in his hand, it’s a spade, I don’t think that’s a red jumper, it looks like blood!’
Over the years there have been very different Christmases; in one Scottish town we had too much food with one family on Christmas Day, then a Boxing Day with the other family who didn’t appear to have any food in the house; we went out searching for food, but all the shops were shut.
One year the longed for white Christmas arrived. My sister and brother-in-law were coming on their first holiday back to England. We had just bought our first place, a small two bedroom ground floor flat, which had the fortuitous novelty of gas central heating. Everyone had told my sister a white Christmas was very unlikely in the south of England. My brother-in-law’s sister lived with her family in a village near Dover, they came up to stay with us to be reunited. It snowed and there we were six adults and two toddlers almost snow bound in a flat that now seemed very small. I recall that all the adults had different drink requirements, but at one stage we couldn’t get any drinks as brother-in-law had been pinned in the kitchen by his sister for a tearful argument about how fairly their precious time in England was going to be shared between she and I. As she was having us all for actual Christmas Day and Boxing Day I’m not sure why she was complaining. My husband was relieved to avoid the trip to Kent due to his shift work and was going to spend the day with my aunt and uncle who had been deprived of the rest of us for Christmas. It began to look as if none of us would get to Kent if the trains and roads were snowed up… we did and Christmas morning was beautiful, trudging through snowy fields with the little ones , then back to a roaring log fire in their cottage. Alas the circle of heat emanating from the open fire did not spread to the rest of the cottage. It was freezing, especially for the Australian contingent, the bathroom, being a mere asbestos attachment to the rest of the building, was particularly uninviting.
If you have access to children Christmas feels more real and we had a few years with four generations, though children are a risk as well, they are liable to be sick all over great aunty’s sofa.
Christmas is something to be ignored and got through for some people, while for others it brings enormous stress as they juggle extended families. But it would seem strange for the year to peter out devoid of any celebrations.
For writers Christmas provides plenty of plot possibilities. In my Brief Encounters Trilogy three Christmases pass, with an ecclectic group of people assembled each time; plenty of tension and opportunity for both love and discord.
One week till Christmas and here’s something to liven things up. I wonder how many versions there have been of this carol? This one is certainly BIG! Thanks to Bluebird who brings us music and jokes regularly.
In honor of the birthday of English hymn writer Charles Wesley (1707-1788), here is one of his greatest hits in an arrangement by American composer Dan Forrest (b. 1978) of a melody by German composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), performed by the combined choirs and orchestra of Concordia College.
Today is the last posting day for second class in the United Kingdom. After our early Xmas I thought there would be a long relaxing period of sending out a few cards and posting a couple of parcels. I put off working out who to send cards and whose cards to include THE NEWS in; I have written a few messages, but it has reminded me of a friend’s Christmas card story. They got a card from a friend in their previous town; it read something like
Happy Christmas from Christine (mother) and Joe (son )
ps Pete ( husband ) was killed in a car accident.
In a previous incarnation I had a friend who was the practice manager at our doctor’s surgery in a Victorian Villa. The doctor had ambitions to build up a care home, it never got beyond three residents upstairs with windows in the sitting room overlooking the church – and the graveyard. Occasionally my friend would rope some of us in to cover a shift, usually a cosy evening watching telly and knitting with two old ladies ( luckily nothing ever went wrong as I had no medical training ). One time there was a chap as well, ninety two years old with bowel cancer. He complained that he had led a good life and did not deserve to be punished. We wondered why he was not grateful for a long life and had he never noticed illness can strike the good and the bad, young and old…
Reasons to be Fearful
With family from nought to ninety two years on three continents there is no catastrophe I haven’t imagined happening – except the bizarre accident that killed my cousin recently, I had never imagined that one. Having one fear realised does not mean the rest of the family are now magically protected, the rules of the game of life don’t work like that. But most of us, most of the time, are still comforted by the thought that major disasters and cruel twists of fate happen to other people.
A book, a television series and a film.
MARLIE BY ANNELI PURCHASE
I posted this review on Amazon and Goodreads. Marlie is set in the remote Queen Charlotte Islands – Haida Gwaii an archipelago approximately 45-60 km (30-40 mi) off the northern Pacific coast of Canada.
16 December 2018
I knew nothing about the islands and little about this part of the world, one of the reasons why I had downloaded Marlie. Anyone who has found themselves with a new career in a place where they are the stranger in town will find Marlie’s story resonates. We may not have met a bear, but islands and remote places anywhere in the world can be surrounded by space and the illusion of freedom, but also have an insularity. On Marlie’s new island there are the locals and the original people and then there are the incomers, most of them ‘getting away’ from their previous life. Everyone knows everyone else, except of course Marlie who has no idea who to trust or how to avoid upsetting anyone. As for any young single woman, dating is a complicated game and it is easy to make a mistake. Enjoy the beauty of an island and the seas, but this story will also have you on edge as Marlie faces the elements and some sinister characters.
‘Mrs. Wilson’ A BBC 1 television drama of three episodes.
We have just finished catching up with this enthralling series based enticingly on real life. One fact about Alexander Wilson we know to be true is that he was an author of thrillers, you can find him on Amazon and Wikipedia, but unlike most writers his imagination spilled over into real life. He spun his lies to four ‘wives’, only the first was legally married to him. We follow the story of his third much younger ‘wife’ Alison Wilson; she is played by her granddaughter Ruth Wilson. The women in his life were real, as are his seven children. It’s almost certain he did work for the secret services at one stage, with his excellent language skills and intelligence, but what he actually did and for how long remains closed in the files. His own large family are never likely to know who the real man was. If we didn’t know it was true we would hardly believe that one man could be loved dearly by his women and children, despite all the trials he put them through; none of them had an easy time. Only after his death did Alison start to discover the truth. Eventually all the families got together. Perhaps only God knows if his Roman Catholic faith was more genuine than the rest of his life! It all made a cracking good story for viewers.
We don’t have Netflix, but Cyberspouse knows someone who has… he has his name on Netflix with two family members, either side of the Atlantic. In his explorations of what is available he occasionally comes up with a gem and this was one of them we watched a few days ago. But was it a book of short stories or a film? Each tale was begun with the turning of a page in a beautiful old book. When I looked it up I was surprised there were only six tales, it seemed like more.
Each story opened like a scene in the theatre or a painting. The singing cowboy riding his white horse and playing the guitar. Residents at a city boarding house sit at the dinner table, but two of the characters in that scene are to set out with a wagon train. This is the longest story, it moves gently until events take a turn… A travelling entertainer sets up his stage at each tiny town, but silently things move towards a dark ending. The story of the gold panner opened like a Disney film on an idyllic scene in a peaceful valley and progressed gently until a stranger came along. A stage coach is the setting for the final story and final it certainly is… If you get the chance, see this film.
I am thrilled to have as my guest author today tra la… Santa! He has found time in his busy schedule to answer 5.5 questions. But best to read his interview when your little ones are safely out of the way if you don’t want Santa’s secrets spoiled.
Father..ur Mr. Christmas… Saint Ni… how do you like to be addressed?
Santa will do fine, though my friends call me Old Nick.
I don’t think many people will know you are also a prolific author, I guess you have to fill in the long months between Christmases somehow.
Until now I don’t think anybody did know and as you have so few followers I think my writing will continue to be one of my best kept secrets.
So it must be the creative satisfaction rather than sales figures that motivates you.
Yes indeed, I have plenty of other money making schemes on the go, writing is for fun and now I can self publish and don’t have to employ scribes I get a great deal of satisfaction.
The big question is what have you written, what is your favourite genre, heart warming fantasy I assume, lots of cute elves?
Why don’t you let ME answer your questions, this is why I so rarely give interviews… There is nothing cute about elves, evil, fiendish creatures… that’s why I love them. But my novels are mostly about human beings, pathetic creatures. Write about what you know, don’t they say? Well I know plenty about humans, been studying them for long enough and my novels explore what has gone wrong with the human race and why I have no intention of sorting it for them.
Oh, er that sounds very deep, can you describe how that pans out in your latest novel?
Daddy Juel – Daddy Juel whizzes round in his atomic powered sleigh visiting first world countries on Christmas Eve and at each comfy home atomises all the presents and festive food. He then bravely travels, dodging missiles and drones, to every war zone and refugee camp and rematerializes the gifts and food for the deserving, rather like Robin Hood, another character I created. Daddy Juel reserves a few goodies and returns to give them to the homeless while having a good laugh as the greedy and smug wake up on Christmas morning to find their larders empty and a few pieces of fossil fuel where their presents had been piled.
Dark humour or gritty fiction? I can’t wait to read it. Thanks you so much for visiting. If book lovers want to find your novels do you write under your real name, Santa?
Santa is of course an anagram of my REAL name, a fact a few folk on Facebook have remarked upon; I have an Amazon Author Page, or they can find me on the dark web…
They first saw the house in late summer, the neat suburban cul-de-sac ‘Little Glades’ may have seemed a cliché, but to Helen and Sam it was their dream home. They did not dwell on the large deposit and huge repayments; Helen pictured pushing a pram, chatting to neighbours and admiring the beautiful front gardens. Sam pictured mowing the long lawn and throwing sticks to a large dog in the park. They both dreamed of peace and quiet after years of renting the cramped flat above an all night shop at a busy junction.
Even with heavy curtains, lights of every colour flashed into their flat; the neon lights of Price Saver below the bedroom window, the endless amber, red, green of the traffic lights. On the other corners the glowing cross of the twenty four hour chemist and the pulsating purple night club sign. Even the tiny kitchen-diner at the back was never dark, security lights glared until dawn. Then there was the noise; sirens, squealing brakes, dogs barking; supplemented at dawn with the arrival of delivery lorries and rubbish trucks.
At Christmas they had rotated round the relatives, next Christmas they would be the hosts, but this Christmas they planned to spend alone, enjoying the peace and quiet of their new home – and it would be quiet, the asking price reflected the fact that there was nothing convenient nearby, no bus stop, shops, pubs, schools or railway line.
It was quiet on the morning of December 14th as they drew into ‘Little Glades’ with the small rented van. All day they tidied, arranged, explored, determined not to set foot out of their home till it was time to return the van later. The furthest they ventured was down the damp garden and through the little gate into the park. When it started getting dark they were busy in their new kitchen cooking together.
But something was not right.
‘I hope there’s not a fire,’ said Helen ‘I thought I saw a flashing blue light.’
Moving into the hall they saw colours moving on the ceiling, they didn’t need to open the front door to hear
‘So here it is Merry Christmas Everybody’s having fun…’
When they did open the door they did not recognise ‘Little Glades’ – they had been transported into a dystopian grotto. Neat semi-detached houses transformed into flashing cartoon parodies of their real selves. Monster inflatable snowmen swayed in front gardens, brightly lit sleighs and grotesque reindeer balanced on roofs and a sinister Father Christmas climbed up a lamp post.
An even more scary Father Christmas approached them, a mittened hand extended.
‘Gary, acca Santa, number six. We thought we’d leave you in peace to settle in and now… welcome to Glades Grotto on our opening night. Every night is party night till January the sixth. Every year we raise thousands for charity, visitors from miles around, hope you don’t want to get that van out till morning.’