Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Joy And Whatnot

I was asked earlier why I haven' t written a blog post for such a long time. I cobbled together some sort of answer, along the lines of "I've been busy...I haven't got many things to say about Sri Lanka at the moment....Yes, yes I must write something soon....but none of the 'regulars' are blogging much these days anyhow".

And it's all true.

But I must write something, or else you'll think I've given up blogging totally, then you'll move on, like people do.

So. Vut to say?

Ah yes, it's Christmas time here.

I suppose it's about what we're used to, but Christmas for me SHOULD be cold. I've had festive seasons, well days at least, in Sri Lanka and Singapore and, nice as they are, they just don't feel quite right. Heat doesn't work at this time of year, not that I like the cold, but it's just so, well, so right for Christmas.

Every morning I dress myself in a scarf, some layers and my new dark red gilet thing with duffle coat style toggles. Of course I don't wear anything at all from the waist down. I like that approach as it surprises people when I get out of the car or get up from my desk.

I jump in the new car and the kindly dash display tells me that the outside temperature is around three degrees. At that time in the morning there's mist and darkness and it all feels just like it should. Random houses are decorated with lights, the odd house has that totally over the top lighting that's usually featured on houses in American Christmas films starring Danny Devito and lots of artificial snow.

But, this being England, we tend not to have much of the wholly over the top lights everywhere thing that seems to feature so heavily in Lankan and Asian Christmas lights. Somehow here it all (mostly) seems to hit the right balance of subtlety and garishness. At this point, if you're a Sri Lankan you may not be aware of the word "subtlety", but I urge you to look it up, perhaps even using the concept some time.

This year has been quite a big one for my family because of my Dad's cancer. Things continue to progress nicely. He's now just about to finish his fifth cycle of chemotherapy and we wait to hear whether he'll be having another one or not. He's infinitely fitter and healthier than he was five or six months ago, but he's also a shadow of the fellow he was a year ago. We all make the choice on whether our glass is half full or half empty and I always like to go for the optimistic approach, but at times it's hard. The approach I mean, not the glass, which is a metaphor.

I've been gigging like a proper musician in the last few weeks. The season does that for you, with a few Christmas parties and a few birthday parties thrown in for good measure. Last week we did a gig and there was one of the blokes from Spandau Ballet there. You have to be of a certain age to have the faintest clue what that means. I'm not, but have been told by much older people of course.

Oh yes, I put up my parents' Christmas tree the other day and learnt something new. My Dad normally does this, but I'd never realised that he was so totally obsessed with how it should look. I'd assumed that, like most things at my parents' house, my Mum made the decisions and he just did the physical work involved in facilitating those.

But no, as far as the Christmas tree and lights went, it was his personal domain and I very nearly walked out of their house in a hissy fit about twelve times. First, at the age of forty five, after being married for so many years, I had to endure him instructing me on exactly how I should hold the lights so they don't break.

Then I was trained on where to place them followed by where to move them because they didn't look good. Then we argued about the need for a second set of lights on the tree because he thought that it needed more colour. I convinced him on the grounds of the need for subtlety, saying that it was all the rage these days. I say "I convinced him" but it wasn't one of those resounding victories, more like a narrow points victory made by a dodgy ref.

After it was all done, as well as some other lights over their kitchen doorway, the old man stared at things with an air of disapproval. He wasn't happy with the dodgy ref and things were compounded when Academic Bro turned up. I told him about Dad's possessive obsessiveness and he laughed with me sympathetically before turning and saying to him:

"Dad, the tree looks a bit bare, it could do with some more coloured lights I reckon."

"Wanker", I thought to myself, possibly saying it out aloud.

I'll be off then. I'm sure we'll speak before Christmas day.

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