Sunday, 25th December, 2022

[Day 1014]

Well, Christmas Day has arrived and I must say that it almost seems like reaching an oasis in the desert, once the pre-Christmas rush has completely subsided. We got up at about the normal time and sent text mssages principally to our family to wish them well. Once we had got breakfast out of the way, we spent a certain amount of time FaceTiming first our own son and his wife and then my sister. I must say that in our initial messages, my sister seemed a little down as she is feeling the loss of her husband quite keenly. Although she lost him about 13 months ago, last Christmas felt like a bit of a blur to her but this Christmas, she was feeling her loss so much more keenly. However, I hoped that in the contact with my sister, we managed to cheer ourselves up a bit. In particular, my sister gave me details of an advance copy she has just received of her grand-daughters soon-to-be published novel, which is due for an official launch in late January. I was read some of the acknowledgements and dedications in the book in which various members of the family received copipous mentions. To some extent, this was a source of consolation to my sister and quite an interesting Christmas present in in its own right. After getting detail of it, I got onto Amazon and ordered a pre-publication copy of the book guaranteed delivery and price after the official launch) My sister is going to journey up to Newcastle where there is going to be an official launch by Penguin Books, probably in a bookshop. So it will be an interesting read when it arrives – to what extent is there a bit of autobiography baked into it, I ask myself?

Cooking of the Christmas dinner is always a question of logistics. Fortunately, the veg had been prepared yesterday afternoon and the beef (our preferred choice on Christmas day) was started in the slow cooker at 7.30am this morning. After that, it just a question of when to start off what. Meg and I finished off our last little drop of genuine Manzanilla (type of Fino sherry) and then I started food preparation at about 11.30. I was assisted by recently discovering a CD of ‘good’ Christmas music by which I mean music especially composed for or relevant at Christmas time but not carols as such. I particularly enjoyed some Bach, Handel, Palestrina and a Berlioz favourite, often played on ClassicFM, which is ‘The shepherds farewell’. On the spur of the moment, I decided that we would eat in our dining room instead of the kitchen where we often eat when there are only the two of us. So I set the table with our special cutlery and lit some little electronic type candles to add to the atmosphere. My recently liberated little inherited Sony music centre sits nicely on a black plastic tray and is such is highly transportable. So I popped this into the dining room and we had some of our favourite music playing to accompany the meal. Christmas dinner worked out absolutely fine with nothing either under or over-cooked and no culinary disasters. However, I do have a failing to which I freely admit and that is that I tend to prepare Christmas dinners that are just a tad too large. To complement the beef, Yorkshire pudding, parsnips, carrorts and sprouts with chestnuts I did have some ‘herby’ type pre-cooked potatoes that just need a quick microwaving. But in the event, there was not space enough on the plate so this will will have to wait until dinner tomorrow (ingredients of which are all already prepared)

Later on this afternoon, I fitted out a spare wire aerial I had to the Sony system (having ‘liberated’ its own aerial to make the Panasonic system usable) and it worked very well. I then spent a certain amount of time getting the presets the way that I wanted – this required a quick consultation with the manual but in the event I got it working just fine. To be honest, I tend only to listen to three stations regularly so I am pleased to have this system working the way I want. I am now in two minds whether to keep the system transportable as it were or make a more permanent location in our lounge but I will have a think about this. I have to say that the fare on the TV today has been particularly dire – many of the comedy programms are half a century old and whereas in the past there was often an opera or a ballet on the TV at this time, it looks as though this year is going to be a disappointment.

I have not seen the new King’s Christmas message to the nation but only excerpts of it on the news. But already there is talk that praising the role of the public services at this particular time is straying into the ‘political’ I always thought that subtle political messages were conveyed by the monarch’s broadcast although not party political. It may be that the new King had decided to be somewhat less anodyne but a pity if the powers that be get offended at this stage.