Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas mysteries

This Christmas, as always, is a time of mysteries. One of the more mysterious of which being the news that a young grey seal has fetched up in a field in Merseyside, 20 miles from the coast and looking extremely grumpy.

Sammy, or Suárez, or Cilla, or whatever they ultimately decide to call him (or her), appears to have taken a wrong turning during a Christmas shopping expedition to Liverpool from his (or her) home on the River Dee, swum up the brook to Newton-le-Willows, and eventually got stuck against a fence post.

(And we’ve all been on shopping trips like that, haven’t we, readers? Sounds like The Mall at Cribbs Causeway. On a good day.)

Sammy/Suárez/Cilla was eventually persuaded on board a trailer by animal rescuers equipped with brooms and a chunk of mackerel, and hopes were expressed that he (or she) would soon be gambolling once more in the choppy waters of the Irish Sea.

If only Christmas at Dixon Towers could be sorted out as simply as that. We don’t need a broom, though: we need an industrial strength vacuum cleaner to pick up the pine needles that are already falling in drifts to the sitting room floor.

And we cannot live by a slice of mackerel alone. Mrs D’s festive preparations demand smoked salmon, crab meat and several jars of Elsinore lumpfish caviar. Which, if you’re interested, is a bit like real caviar, but smaller, blacker, and significantly cheaper.

Which leads leads us to a second mystery: where can you buy it? Two days before Christmas? In Bath?

OK, it’s the biggest middle-class, first-world non-problem since the lady on Twitter who couldn’t find mini-pannetone. But when it’s your problem, it’s serious.

There is an answer, though, to the missing fishy bits crisis: Keynsham. And such is yours truly’s devotion to family bliss and harmony this festive tide, that he got in the car and drove there to pick some up.

Pausing only to look at the ingredients on the side of the jar and to discover that one of them “may have an adverse effect  on activity and attention in children”. So who needs brandy butter when you’ve got E110?

The third mystery presents itself on the way back from the Bath/Bristol borderlands: what are those two blokes from Wessex Water doing, standing at the bottom of the road, tapping the Tarmac with long metal rods with the general demeanour of people who are about to cut off your supply?

The mystery deepens with the arrival of the massed pipes and drums of the band of the Scots Guards, who proceed to muster at the corner and drill. Assuming they’re not an advance scouting party for David Cameron’s Own Highland Frackers, then the chances of extracting even a drop of water from the taps come Christmas Day look vanishingly slim.

Mystery piles upon mystery. What was it Mrs D asked for when she made up her Christmas list back in October? And can you still buy it at 3.30 on Christmas Eve?

Will the Amazon van get through on time?

And what will we do without Hugh?

This, sadly, was my last published column for The Bath Chronicle. Goodbye, and thanks for reading.

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