Getting into the festive spirit



There’s nothing more Christmassy, is there, than watching a hundred or more redcoats at Rorke’s Drift blasting away at a few thousand Zulu warriors armed with spears and admiring the ability of both sides to maintain appropriate ethical and musical standards in a crisis. The festive period just wouldn’t be, well, festive, without it.

And, for Christmas Day itself, you can’t beat two hours of Carry on Lording It, or Downton Abbey as it’s sometimes known, when you’ve lost all capacity for movement or rational thought after a long day’s calorie and alcohol intake. This Blog can’t make up its mind with Downton whether it’s watching a documentary on the death throes of a former civilization or a UKIP blueprint for a better future. Either way, it’s fairly confident that its own niche in the Grantham household would be somewhere below the Golden Labrador (they’re bound to get another one – with a more politically acceptable name than ISIS — for the next series) and just above Daisy, the assistant jus drizzler, tapas grinder, or whatever it says on her JD.


That’s quite close enough, thank you, for family viewing…



“Dress-down Friday? Are you sure that’s what she said?”



Mr. Carson agrees to test drive one of those newfangled hearing aids



Lady Mary taking a well-earned rest after a busy day. Tomorrow she hopes to make time to put her hat back on.



But when the revolution comes….


Command of the TV remote control can be sensitive at any time of year but there does seem to be a particular need at Christmas to arrive at an accommodation with other family members if grudges are not to be held for the following twelvemonth. (Is that still a  word?) Mrs. Blog, for example, can be very sniffy about “strong language”, “mature themes” or “scenes of a sexual nature” in her TV movies but is just fine with gratuitous violence and murder, provided it’s all tastefully done and that no Scottish people or animals are hurt during the making of it. Which probably explains how Family Blog found itself, through a Lowest Common Denominator approach, watching Mr. Popper’s Penguins (again) and Muppets Most Wanted.

While we’re mentioning Mrs. Blog, I’m happy to reassure readers that – being teetotal and therefore something of an asset at Christmastime in the “driving me home” stakes — she is now fully recovered from her “indisposition” following consumption of a small glass of Cava and orange juice on Christmas morning.


Mrs. Blog takes a moment out before peeling the sprouts


Rumours of the police attending Blog Manor in response to neighbours’ complaints of rowdyism and public dancing are – for the most part — unfounded, and the Hogmanay “bells” passed off largely without further incident.

Other highlights? Undoubtedly the arrival, under cover of darkness, of our first ever Christmas card from UKIP – apparently on behalf of, though not signed by, our “parliamentary candidate” and sundry councillors and prospective local council candidates. So, quite a dilemma I’m faced with now. I hadn’t actually intended to offer my vote in 2015 to the modern equivalent of the Monster Raving Loony Party, but, hey, now they’ve sent me a Christmas card….

What other gifts has this blog received for Christmas, I hear you ask.

They include – and this may tell you something about this blog’s character (if you didn’t already know) and the esteem in which he is held in his own household (I suspect other people get nice things like shirts or gift tokens):

  • Four fifths of a pack of socks from M&S (Mrs. Blog tells me that the fifth pair came in handy at the surgery in December for dressing and protecting a greyhound’s amputated toe, so that’s ok)
  • Hilary Mantel’s “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher”
  • The Wipers Times: “The Famous First World War Trench Newspaper”
  • Britain’s Worst Walks: “Travels around the UK’s Gloriously Grim Backwaters”
  • Tiny Stations: “An Uncommon Odyssey through Britain’s Railway Request Stops” (I think it’s a boy thing)
  • Remington Nose and Ear Trimmer: “Rotary trimmer for nose and ear hair” (Don’t, just don’t)


In return, when it comes to choosing gifts for Mrs. Blog, I have been accused on occasion of buying romantic things for the house (I’ve never been forgiven for the food blender – I thought that’s what women wanted – but she seemed ok this year with the Onion Goggles), or that I actually wanted for myself (I have excellent taste in reading material), or that would, I assumed, be shared with me – hence, for example, a “Legends’ Tour” of Liverpool FC’s ground or a weekend for two in some country hotel somewhere. To combat this unfortunate impression I invariably cover myself each year by presenting Mrs. B with a voucher for some spa or girly products – I’m not likely to be accused of wanting to hi-jack the booking for an Extra Relaxing Aromatic Facial or a Zen Spa Pedicure de Luxe.

On second thoughts…



On New Year’s Eve I received an informative email from WordPress who kindly look after this blog for me. It enclosed, as we used to say, an annual report on my blog and invited me to share its contents with you. I will spare you the bulk of that content but am happy to report 2,500 visits to the blog since it began in February, from 48 nations – with a helpful map of the world identifying the number of “hits” from each. Firstly, may I say that not all of these hits are by me, so please accept my gratitude for your support and all the kindly comments. Nearly 2,000 visits, unsurprisingly, are from the UK, with no fewer than 228 from the US, 59 from Canada and 49 from Australia – so, come on you colonials, see what you can do by this time next year to climb that chart!

I am informed that my most viewed blog during the year was a recent one posted from hospital and entitled “Some things are best left unseen”, which suggests that an audience brought up on episodes of Doctor Kildare and fed more recently by Casualty and Scrubs, still exists for tales of bedpans, bugs and bladder infections. On the other hand, the piece which attracted the highest number of posted comments turns out to have been “Barbados countdown: Mrs. Blog goes shopping”: it is unclear just what keywords, typed into a search engine, would have triggered the hits from places like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia or which elements of Mrs. Blog’s retail habits will have cast light amongst my Eastern European “followers” on this important aspect of British culture.


In the UK it is traditional for men and women to enjoy shopping trips together


This blog has written enough failed New Year resolutions over the past decades not to wish to embarrass itself further by making a totally unrealistic commitment to join a gym or learn to play a musical instrument. It will instead take the softer option of making resolutions for others, whom it intends to hold to account in 2015 for their implementation:

1.  David Cameron will desist from embarrassing the nation by constant puerile references to “Europe” in order to curry cheap political favour “at home”.


2.  Government will remember when “town and country planning” meant, well, “town and country planning” and not “helping some people to get rich”.

3.  Libraries, schools, the NHS and the social welfare system will once more be recognised as the badges of a civilized society rather than a political football and an undesirable drain on the nation’s resources. And can we please have back all those national institutions like the railways which seem to have been sold overseas, invest in them and run them as they are meant to be run?

4.  Liverpool FC will invest properly in new strikers. Oh, and Jose Mourinho will stop training his Chelsea players to “dive” in the penalty area. (No, ain’t gonna happen. You can forget that one).


5.  Mrs. Blog will bow to the inevitable and buy me a puppy.



See? It’s much more satisfying than making resolutions that you have to deliver yourself. I can lend you a few more if you can’t come up with any.

May 2015 be a good year for you and yours.



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