Usually by the second week of December, I would have several lines of Christmas cards stretching from one corner of the room to another. With every card received and displayed, I would feel just that little bit more certain
that Christmas was on its way.
This year, due to the upheaval caused by the Door Widening Project, it hasn’t been possible to hang our cards as usual so
they are piled up on the sideboard awaiting such time as the workmen have finally departed and I can begin to deck our halls with, well, Christmas cards at any rate. Moreover the Christmas tree and its decorations are still up in the loft where they will remain
until Team Baldwin arrives next week to (i) recover the tree from its summer resting place and (ii) decorate said tree to the accompaniment of any number of seasonal songs.
It has, therefore, been difficult to feel properly Christmassy - until today, when the Nomination Whist Group met for our annual Festive Gathering, with sherry, Christmas crackers, the exchange of cards and the addition of mini mince pies to our plates
of biscuits between games. Don’t worry, we made sure our friend Delia didn’t miss out on her shortbread - we wouldn’t be that cruel, especially not at Christmas.
Our crackers - £5 for twelve from the Co-op, what a bargain! - contained the usual silly jokes, a few of which I managed to guess (Example: Why wouldn’t the crab share his dinner? Because he is shellfish!) This led one of our number to accuse
me of being the author of the jokes. Not guilty, Your Honour. As well as the jokes, each cracker contained an astonishing fact, some of which were actually quite, well, astonishing. Did you know that the average person laughs ten times a day? Clearly the members
of our Nomination Whist Group are not your average persons because it was laugh a minute in our living room this afternoon.
Best of all, I was given with
what may well turn out to be my favourite Christmas present of 2017 - a spider and bug catcher, no less. A fortnight ago, when last we met, we had an interesting discussion about various methods of dealing with spiders - short, you understand, of squashing
them to death which used to be Mr B’s preferred method of Spider Removal in the Olden Days before such tasks fell to me. Not being able to bring myself to execute a Living Thing, I have generally adopted the stance of Complete Denial, in that I allow
my eight-legged visitors to roam at will and pretend I haven’t seen them. Indeed, there was one night - I kid you not - when I discovered a large creepy one squatting on the wall above my bed and, rather than deal with it, I actually turned out the light
and went to sleep. Maybe, after all, I would fare well in the Celebrity Jungle. Always supposing I was a celebrity, that is.
My spider and bug catcher was
a present from Margaret and Ted - and it was Ted who proceeded to demonstrate how to use it. There weren’t any spiders or bugs around at the time, so we had to use our imaginations which was fine by me because my imagination is Finely Tuned to creepy
How can I describe my spider catcher? I wish I could draw you a picture. Imagine a plastic bowl with a sliding lid on a short pole - you place
the bowl over the spider / bug / creepy crawly and then slowly slide the lid across, thus capturing the creature within. Ted warned me to slide the lid across very, very slowly to avoid catching and amputating some or all of the spider’s legs. Shuddering,
I promised to be careful. Any spider might prefer Mr B’s summary execution to such Torture by Sliding Lid.
Once captured, I am told, I need to transport
the prisoner to a place at least a quarter of a mile away from my home if it is not to crawl straight back into the house again. I imagine myself trotting along the road, holding the spider catcher aloft on its pole, like an Olympic torch bearer. But with
a spider in place of a flame, don’t you know.
Christmas crackers, silly jokes, and a Present Like No Other. It’s beginning to feel a bit like Christmas.