Friday, 24th December, 2021

[Day 648]

Christmas Eve has dawned and I leapt out of bed fairly early for me because I thought I would walk down to the paper shop before breakfast to liberate a bit more time during the rest of the day. Walking down to town at about 7.30 in the morning was quite an interesting experience because some people had their lighted decorations on (which they may switch off during the day). I have seen a fibreglass reindeer in one of the front porches down the road but I haven’t realised before that this could be illuminated by flashing LEDs (which sounds tacky in the extreme, but actually it was fairly tasteful). At the newsagents, I picked up my newspaper and I exchanged seasonal greetings with the wife of the newsagent who has lived,with her husband, in California. We were having a chuckle about the fact that the American cricket team had secured a victory over the Irish which was quite notable for them – but the source of amusement to us both was that about 8 of the American cricket team were Asian and another two Afro-Caribbean – I think one solitary white American male had crept into the team somehow. When I got home, I prepared our normal cooked breakfast and then our domestic help turned up and we always have a lot to natter about, particularly in view of our little Yorkshire venture for my brother-in-law’s funeral. We indicated that all had gone well and the whole proceedings were both dignified and emotionally uplifting. I then had to go ahead and get the cards organised for the neighbours. As it turned out there were about seven of these and again I tried to match the Christmas card to the neighbour. Hence to two of our Asian neighbours, I try not to offend them with overtly Christian type cards but tend to use those which evidently have an international flavour. For one of my park friemds (who as it happens was not there this morning) I chose a vaguely amusing card which had on it a flock of sheep bah-ing ‘Happy Christmas bleatings’ (which, although not rib-tickingly funny might bring a slight smile of amusement when he eventually gets it). So Meg and I set out on our journey to the park, hand delivering the cards as we went. When we got to the park, neither of two regular friends were there but I had a quick telephone call with one of them to arrange a rendez-vous for Sunday. We did, though, meet up quite by chance with an elderly Irish couple who are close friends of our other Irish friends along Kidderminster Road. I reminded them that last year, the six of us had partaken of some of the damson gin which I had taken down for some of friends. Because we were in sort of lockdown conditions last year, we actually sat in the doorway of an open garage so that we could indicate to passing officaldom that we were actually outdoors (which complied with the regulations then in force) I had taken along a largish bottle of the 2020 vintage of our damson gin (I had made six litres last year and hence had some left over before this year’s is bottled) I had brought with me some paper cups so they both imbibed my damson gin and I reminded them that as we had been doing this for two years, we had actually started a tradition. After the Irish couple proceeded on their way, we encountered anothr couple that we know slightly by sight (or rather their dog bounded over searching out titbits which is quite a common occurrence) We had a very interesting chat for at least 20 minutes or so talking about the houses in which we had lived in the past, both of which happened to have extremely long gardens. So after this chat we had to race home and I cooked some sea-bream which I had promised all of us this Christmas Eve lunch.The point about this particular fresh fish is that it only done for about three minutes on one side and two minutes on the other and then served on a bed of salad – so the whole meal can literally get thrown together ina few minutes. We then exchanged some Christmas gifts that we had bought for each other but our domestic help ( an excellet cook, by the way) brought along a courgette and ginger soup (which we were to have later on this evening) and some absolutely delicious treacle-type ginger cake ( and in return, she had some of our beer and Cava of which we had a spare bottle) so I am sure we will have a wonderfulChristmas day opening up all of these prezzies.

This evening we went to the Christmas Eve service in which we imagined that the church would be packed full. It was but we had got there 15 minutes before our normal arrival time. It was raining ‘cats and dogs’ both when we got to the church and when we came out so we were pleased to get home and enjoy some home-made soup.