It is one of the many wonders of the night sky, to gaze upon it freezes time itself, the World stands still and waits for you to catch up, you feel no cold, you are in trance.
I am of course talking about Coma Berenices, the lock of golden hair placed in the heavens by Aphrodite herself. A wonderful story, there for us all to enjoy.
At the moment she is just behind Leo in the Southern sky, you don’t need a big powerful telescope to see her, just a simple pair of binoculars will reveal her beauty to you.
Back to the real World now, the reason why I’m writing this… Christmas. OK, it’s gone, done and dusted for another year, but this one ( my 58th), has left me with such a feeling of completeness, weird. Is it an age thing or what?
In the past, Christmases just used to happen, as if by magic. The build up, the expectancy, tension bubbling away inside, it’s presence was inescapable, it occupied every nook and cranny of our childhood lives. It was the Daddy.
The morning of the 25th December was like a starters gun going off, like Greyhounds bursting from their traps, invisible walls of restraint, control and discipline shattered, unable to hold us back .
We had presents, love, warmth and food. We had snow by the bucket full, we had time, we had youth, we had Moms and Dads.
Christmas, like Coma Berenices, is a wonder of the Universe, all those good and wonderful things brought together for just one special day before being fragmented once more, and scattered, like the Stars across our Heaven.
As a New Year approaches and the cycle of life starts afresh, don’t go through it like a Bull in a China shop, take time to grab some of those fragments, and save them for next Christmas.
Duck, Goose, Cockrel! Aghhhhhh!
What sort of bird should we have?
Turkey, yeah Turkey.
Bronze? Black? How big? Aghhhh!
Decisions decisions aye, why not save yourself a whole lot of grief and go with my top tip and put an end to this seasonal nightmare.
Go Penguin. A Rock hopper will feed two where as the mighty Emperor will feed the average family and the dog.
No plucking required, just a quick whiz over with the razor and job done, no need to baste, there’s plenty of fat. Your Taters will be golden.
Only one problem, a full-grown Emperor can be over 3ft tall and won’t fit in the average oven.
Comming from the coldest extremes of our planet makes them pretty hard to freeze as well.
So what you waiting for! Get to your nearest Zoo and bag one.
If you are confronted by the security forces just look them in the eye and say:
Penguin, I see no Penguin wibble wibble, have you seen my Horn Bill.
( Don’t forget to put your heels together and salute).
” ok Geoff, ease off, he’s gone.”
” No I haven’t, I’m here.” Protested Bugs, as he watched the Paramedics tidy up their mess of needles and wrappers.
With the blue flashing light switched off the Ambulance slowly bumped down the track, Pheasant and Squirrel dashed for cover from the unexpected disturbance.
The Sun had only been up for two hours and already its Summer warmth could be felt.
“Pull up at the bottom Geoff, I need some air.” Said Liz.
Once stationery the two paramedics stepped down onto the track followed by Bugs, the driver stayed behind the wheel and settled for leaning out of the open window.
” What a beautiful place, must be nice living out here in the stick’s.”
“C’mon you two, let’s get this lump up the road before he stiffens up.” Shouted Geoff.
The team mounted up and prepared for the off.
As Bugs took hold of the grab rails to heave himself aboard his blood ran cold and goose bumps sprung up on his arms, he felt the hand lightly grip his shoulder and stall his progress.
Bugs froze but kept his grip, slowly he turned his head, the birds had stopped singing,and
the World stood still.
Their eyes met.
“DAD!MOM! I thought I’d never see you again, Kippy, c’mon Kip.”
Bugs smiled a warm smile as he silently greeted his Kin, releasing his grip he attempted to alight the Ambulance, but an unseen force held him in place.
He starred helplessly as all before him faded, the birds started to sing as he wept.
A voice he knew so well spoke just as he opened his eyes.
“Sorry Son, not today.”
The big day today, I’am practicing my technique of roasting, ready for the meal of the year, the Daddy of all meals, the show piece. Christmas Dinner.
Very soon, if not already, you are going to be bombarded with ideas from a thousand people, cook this, cook that, cook the other, not that way, this way. It’s going to mince your brain and even spoil what should be the happiest day of the year.
Forget the Channel 4 full table spread of turkey, sprouts, pigs in blankets, glazed oranges studded with cloves and every other conceivable festive delicacy. 10 people have probably spent 2 days setting it up just to plant the image in your mind.
Create you own image and menu, and stick to it, don’t be pulled off track, stay focused.
Choose ingredients that are going to look good on the plate and go well together, keep it simple and keep it tasty, otherwise you could end up serving sprouts and custard.
Just remember, you’ll be serving the meal on plates, not dustbin lids.
The kitchen is going to be as hot as a ships engine room, steam, heat and saucepan lids rattling, you will need help, get someone in there with you, make the kitchen a happy place, it will reflect in both the taste and the presentation of your food.
Put a few scraps out for the birds so that you can watch them and grab a minute to re-focus, keep your feet on the ground
Get some fitting music in there, make the kitchen an extension of the festivities and not a separate torture chamber.
Allocate jobs, team effort, then sit down and reap the rewards of your labours.
It’s that time of the year again, fireworks going off until all hours scaring pet’s out of their wits.
Well! It’s time that we acted and conducted ourselves like the responsible Adults that we are.
Lets get out there and show the youngsters of today what a Bonfire night really is.
Regardless of age or background, set about the following tasks with enjoyment and a hearty slap of the shoulders for the recipients of your japes.
Firstly, get yourself down to the nearest firework outlet and spend your last bean on buying as many bangers as you can, don’t be to worried about how loud they are at this stage because you can doctor them later.
If at this point you don’t smoke, start. Handling explosive substances is always more nerve tingling with a fag hanging out of your mouth.
Before you start throwing these expensive eye sight removers about willy nilly, it’s best to practice with a small stick or similar object first. Practice makes perfect as they say.
Now remember, it’s going to be dark when you go out, so only wear black or dark clothing, conceal your presence, surprise is a game winner.
When you toss a banger into a crowd the fizzing touch paper is a dead give away, allowing everyone to scatter. Hold the banger for as long as possible before throwing it.
This is your one chance in a year to be a complete prat, so get out there and push some unsuspecting individual into the fire.
What ever you get up to this Bonfire night, have fun.
Well, that time of year is once more upon us, Christmas. They say Christmas is just for children but I disagree. It is for all, and the more that join in the better.
I lost Christmas a few years back thanks to commercial bombardment, television advertising and that pathetic goggle box interpretation of how we should all dress and behave around the festive dinner table.
A slow steady approach is perfect, it gives you time enjoy the preparation, spread the cost and resist those last minute impulse buys that always cost £10 more because of the time of year.
Gifts are an essential part of our Christmas, always have been, always will be, but for me gifts are not as important as the festive table and those that sit round it.
This year, God willing, there will be my younger Brother and Sister, my comical good humored Brother in Law and my beloved partner of 23 years, Jackie, and myself of course.
A glass will be raised and thoughts will be spared for absent friends. When you stop and think, there’s quite a list of those no longer with us.
My contribution to this golden moment is going to be planning and preparation, mainly because I have the time, you don’t need much really, what bit you do have use it wisely and use it to relax and enjoy.
What I’am enjoying the most is doing things for myself instead of relying on the local Supermarket, I’ve already been in the Maconaisse and purchased a nice 2014 Pouilly Fuisse to complement the hand reared Cockerel from up the road, I’am currently in a Green grocers up in Edinburgh selecting my variety of spud.
I’ve been down in the Douro Valley selecting Port, and I have’nt moved out of my chair.
To go to these places, although be it virtually feeds the Brain, and one by one, the fruits of your journey appear, courtesy of an unknown workforce.
I appreciate it’s still a long way off, and a lot can change or happen between now and then, but I’am going to enjoy every second of the build up and give the occasion what it deserves, my Heart and Soul.
Tastes, flavors and smells, all will be worked on.
Our little dog Kippy, our Parents and several Dear Friends have been removed from our Lives, for them and their memory we shall work harder to make this Day all the more special.
Whatever you get up to I hope you enjoy it.
Must go, I’ve got to get the Beer fermenting. Bye.
Well here we are, 0630hrs, on a Sunday morning. Still dark outside but the light off my moth trap is reflecting off the stable roof.
It’s been a mild night for this time of year hence the moth trap, I did want to look at Uranus, but alas to much cloud cover, so I opted for plan B, moths, and glad I did as well, because I know that I’ve got at least 2 Merveille du jour’s, spectacular little beauty’s, hidden gems of Autumn.
So here I’am waiting for daylight so that I can get out there and see what other delights await me.
There was a stonking great Hornet in the trap a while back, not the usual Brown Hornet, but a larger, sharper looking, clean cut lemon yellow and black critter.
Could be one of those Asian Head Eating Hornets that I’ve been reading about, more bad news for the Honey Bee.
I’am also waiting for our Jack to get up, with Jack’s arrival comes the Day and all that we live for.
I’am also looking at old photo’s of last years Damson blossom, already waiting for Spring and the Winter ain’t even started yet, lets not rush it aye.
There’s a lot of beauty to be enjoyed between now and that first blossom,and a lot of hardship as well, for Gods little creatures and ourselves.
The Robin has just kicked off, tick tick ticking, that’s my que to get outside.
Everything is worth waiting for, catch you later.
Death, don’t bother me, it’s miles off. Or is it? We don’t know.
I don’t think we fear death in itself but more the way in which we die, and you don’t need me to tell you that there are some pretty undesirable means and methods out there.
Is death the end or the beginning? Again we don’t know, no one has ever come back to tell us, so it is the unknown, but are we not supposed to fear the unknown, or is it not ignorance and lack of understanding of the unknown that create fear.
Fear is good, fear is healthy, it keeps us alive, keeps us on the right side of the tracks, alive.
But fear is like everything else, good in moderation, to much and you’re a wimp, to little and you’re an idiot with a death wish.
We all have fear, it’s built in, but we have to test it, test our bottle, edge our toe over that line. I believe youngsters call it an adrenaline rush. So it’s good to get out there and edge your bets, to enjoy that uncontrollable nervous laughter when you realize that you are still on the right side of the tracks, alive.
But what if you found out that you had left the known familiar of your earthly existence behind and now stood on the threshold of your biggest adventure.
It is at this point that the Human imagination can run riot with ideals and beliefs.
What ever your beliefs or opinions the switch from one side of the track to the other is sudden and no matter how loud you shout, no one will hear you. At least I don’t think so.
What I do know is that between Life and Death is a warm place, a waiting room, or a preparation zone, a place where you are on a knife’s edge, balancing between which side of the track you go. It is a place of acceptance, a decision outside of your control is about to be made, you can only lie there and smile, and be ready to accept.
Today started really well for me, you know why, because I opened my eye’s, as good a start as any, and now all I have to do is build on it.
The reason for my reflective mood is this; Last Saturday I went to a 60th birthday party with A’r Jack, it took a lot of effort getting ready but by 20:00hrs we were in and sat comfy in a position prepared by the host, John, Jack’s Gaffer.
I positioned my self perfectly taking all things into consideration, distance from the table access to the toilets fire escape and all that other standard procedure stuff.
The music was loud, 70’s classics mainly, enough to get the foot tapping but not enough to fill the dance floor.
Jack appeared through the crowd carrying our drinks, people stepping aside to allow her through. Smiles of thanks and appreciation exchanged she made it to our table.
Once settled we chinked glasses and observed the comings and goings. I people watched as the party went through it’s customary stages, during a brief lull in the vibes I leaned across to A’r Jack and said;
“6 years ago I could have missed this.”
6 years ago, my darkest hour, I’ll never forget it.
It was at this point a commotion by the door attracted my attention, there was some pushing and shoving, drinks being spilt, and more than likely a few choice words being exchanged. For several seconds the cause of the upset evaded us, then it became clear. Gareth had turned up, and he was minging drunk.
Screamed Gareth, as he slid across the dance floor on his knees in true rock star style.
Bugs cheered and shouted a greeting to his pal, happy at his timely arrival. The session was on.
With only minutes before Jack gets up, it’s time for me to say bye, catch you later.
It was like a Chimps tea party, the kitchen, hub of the cottage, resembled a scene from Bannania because Bugs and Gareth were in the middle of a flour fight. Bugs filled his lungs to bursting point, and then, as if blowing a kiss, he blew a pile a pile of Mcdougal’s finest into Gareths face.
“You. You. You complete and utter bastard you.” Scowled Gareth, shaking his head. Bugs siezed the moment and grabbed the squirty cream, holding the can like a Browning 9mm he advanced two paces then pressed the top, decorating Gareth’s head with a wig of freshly piped cream. The tears ran down Bugsy’s face leaving their trail in the flour, he howled hysterically and had to place a hand on the work surface for support. While Bugs was busy splitting his sides, Gareth picked up the wooden rolling pin and gave Bugs a sharp painful wrap across the knuckles, now he had the advantage and quickly grabbed the can of squirty and thrusting the nozzle into Bugsy’s face he let rip with a prolonged squirt that emptied the can. Gareth dropped the can and with both wings rubbed the cream into a meringue of snowy peaks.
“Why you little……..Stop STOP!!!!”
The two friends brushed themselves off laughing as they did so.
“C’mon Gareth, get serious, lets get these tarts done before the Gaffer has our guts for garters.”
“To right Bugs, but first, lets sing the school song.”
The friends draped arms over each others shoulders like a pair of drunks and broke into song.
“Yar de pockerty…..Rum ping…. Pooooooo….Nik nik nik……YAHOOOOOOO!