Monday, 20th December, 2021

[Day 644]

Today being Monday and the start of the week before Christmas, I started to get focused on what needed to be done in the next few days. The first thing on my mind was the location and condition of my ‘Santa Claus’ outfit which, by tradition, I deploy on the Tuesday before Christmas when members of my Pilates class exchange Christmas cards – and occasionally other goodies. With the things that you only use once a year, I had a rough idea of where my outfit was but fortunately I went straight to a cupboard from whence I could retrieve the required items stored in a Father Christmas style hessian sack. Instead of the considerable rigmarole of having to change in the toilet area of the Pilates studio, I am going to wear all of my gear underneath my Pilates clothes – then, at the requisite time after we have the ‘treat’ of a relaxation session, I ‘wake up’ half way through and complete my transformation. In the past, I have composed a little song to the tune of ‘I saw Mummy kissing Santa Claus’ but somehow the creative spirit has left me this year so I may give this a miss. The second tradition associated with my Pilates class is to make a present of a little bottle of our own bottled damson gin to each of my class mates. I knew that I didn’t have time to bottle any of this years but again, fortunately, the year before had been a bumper year so I just happened to have the exact number of small 200cc bottles of gin left over so this has saved me a bit of work. First thing in the morning, I need to wrap up each bottle in Christmas wrapping paper and write a little Christmas card for each person. All of this takes a certain amount of organisation but traditions must not be allowed to die. After getting all of this sorted out and the rest of the unpacking done, Meg and I were a little late in getting down into town today. It was a slightly chilly day but nothing that couldn’t be tolerated. We picked up our newspapers, called by Waitrose to pick up a few supplies and made our way to the park. One of our purchases at Waitrose was a copy of the Radio Times which we tend to buy only once a year at Christmas time so that we have a good guide to the programmes not to miss over the Christmas period. Whilst films at Christmas time are often used just to fill up the empty schedules, occasionally there is a real classic which is well worth watching (last year, for example, it was Casablanca which in black and white had a particular quality to it) Although it was the first day of the Christmas vacations, there were hardly any children around and even the dog walkers were in short supply this morning so we were quite pleased to drink our coffee and head for home.The thing about doing walks in the summer is that often people are toddling around their front gardens and do not mind stopping for a chat but just before Christmas, no doubt we are all being driven crazy finding Christmas stuffing or its contemporary equivalent.

One of the chores at Christmas time is the writing and sending of Christmas cards and I am always mightily relieved when this task is done. On the other hand, you have the undoubted pleasure of getting cards from friends and relatives and catching up on their news. We do tend to keep a tally in our heads of the people from whom we have received cards if only because if we do not receive a card from one of our regulars, then we start to get a little concerned lest they be seriously ill – or even worse. However, the Christmas card list does have one set of macabre bonus. When I compiled it for the first time, I gave a copy of it to our son and daughter-in-law with the admonition that whever Meg and I died, this was to the the ‘people-to-be-contacted’ list. I say this because sometimes relatives have the task of sifting through old address books to try to discover old friends, current friends, now forgotten friends and so on. To have an up-to-date list is always useful but with the various amendments that take place from year to year, I must remind myself to give my heirs the up-to-date list this year.

Boris Johnson gave a Prime Ministerial broadcast today which I was glad to miss. Torn between the scientific community and medical experts on the one hand and the libertarian right of the Tory party (to whom any lockdowns are anathema) on the other, Boris decided to do – nothing! However, the situation is to kept ‘under constant review’ and could change at a moment’s notice. I think the ploy here is all too transparent – i.e. get Christmas Day and Boxing Day over and then go for a lockdown in all but name before the NHS is completely overwhelmed.