Avatar Christmas wrap-up 2020

Another year is over, Christmas has ended, and all that remains is to sweep up a large quantity of pine needles from the carpet, move an item of furniture over the conspicuous mulled wine stain in the middle of the living room, and plant a boot firmly in the arse of 2020 to make sure it departs on time and never returns.

What’s left, now the stocking has been emptied, the wrapping paper is off and the dust has settled? Let’s have a look.

House fixables

  • Large Stanley sorting box with starter collection of screws, bolts, dry wall fixings and other DIY essentials
  • Bird table camera for capturing visiting wildlife in HD video without having to leave my iPhone on a windowsill and then spend 20 minutes looking for it even though it was me that put it there
  • Bee hotel

Tasty eatables

  • Chocolates intriguingly shaped like walnuts and acorns
  • Odd coffee bags that make very fancy coffee by pouring hot water into a paper bag, somehow
  • Large bars of marzipan. I fucking love marzipan

Thrilling enjoyables

  • Husky ride where I get to drive the huskies (not sure how you drive a dog but since I basically like having a go at driving anything I’m allowed to climb into I am well up for this)
  • Segway safari

Well done everyone. Now let’s buckle up for 2021. It can only be better than 2020.

Avatar A Tunnock’s tragedy

As you almost certainly know, last year I made the fatal error of joking to Ian that what I wanted for Christmas was a bucket of Tunnock’s Teacakes. For Christmas he got me a bucket of Tunnock’s Teacakes.

Despite eating a lot of Tunnock’s Teacakes – including, on more than one occasion, eating three of them as “breakfast dessert” – there were still some sitting in the bucket at the end of March.

At the end of March, of course, I was forced to abandon my usual residence on top of the exploding mattress emporium, and among the many belongings I left behind, I foolishly failed to cram a bucket of teacakes into my suitcase.

A couple of weeks ago my flatmate Steve “Stevey” Stevingtons was kind enough to fly overhead in a sort of psychedelic biplane and airdrop some of my belongings, including several t-shirts, a few bits of post that I would have been happy never to receive, and a bucket containing precisely five Tunnock’s Teacakes.

I ate one and I won’t be eating any more.

The passage of a further four months has caused them to deflate. Inside, the chocolate is now strange with white bits in it, and the marshmallow has turned sort of hard and chewy. The biscuit is virtually inedible.

The last four teacakes from that epic gift are now, as a result, in the bin. A sad end to a brilliant Christmas gift.

Avatar Free to a good home

As you probably know, for the time being I am shacked up in a different flat a long way from home. There are many things about these temporary arrangements that are new and different, but probably the newest and differentest is the windowsill by the front door.

In this little block of flats, you see, there’s a windowsill next to the main door leading out to the car park, and the residents here seem to use it as a kind of informal swap shop. Unwanted items occasionally appear here, with no indication of their origin, and disappear a day or two later.

In the past week, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of items up for grabs, including a whole host of cook books, a coffee table book of photographs of chocolate, and one of those books that only really existed in the late 1980s and early 1990s that had a beige front cover and was specifically about microwaving things.

Here’s the current offer as I write this.

  • Four dishwasher tablets
  • Three potatoes in a basket
  • Three packs of lard, one of which is in a sandwich bag
  • A small Breville slow cooker
  • A CD compilation of traditional Christmas songs

The bad news, though, is that this week’s real bounty has already been taken. Here is what the windowsill held yesterday.

Yes, it’s hard to hear, I know, but the Ricky Martin album has already gone. I’ve missed my chance. Someone else in another flat is now Livin’ the Vida Loca, and I’m left slow-cooking my lard and potatoes in silence.

Avatar Four Word Reviews: A Christmas Album

April is truly the most Christmassy month. There are several reasons for that. The first is that it just is. I mean, Christmas happens in December, obviously, but that really just makes the idea of December being the most Christmassy month a bit bourgeois and low-brow. No, April’s right on the fashions. The second reason is the weather – all that blazing hot sunshine that’s turned up in the last few days can’t help but make you feel festive. And the third reason is that it was in April last year that we listened to Mahalia’s Christmas album. (You did listen to it, didn’t you?)

Needless to say, then, this April we’re spinning another yuletide disc. This one is A Christmas Album, recorded in 1967 by Barbra Streisand.

Read More: Four Word Reviews: A Christmas Album »

Avatar Happy Christmas, Ian

Everyone loves Christmas. It’s a special time of the year when I get very stressed trying to buy and wrap presents for all the people in my life and then somehow deliver them all to the right people so they will get to enjoy them on Christmas Day.

Almost everyone in my life got their Christmas presents and, on Christmas Day, opened them and hopefully enjoyed them. But not everyone in my life follows the usual path. Not everyone lets themselves be led by the forces of what is “normal” or “sensible” or “in any way reasonable”. Such as, for example, Ian.

In advising me how to get my presents to him, Ian suggested I drop them off at his mum’s house. I did this, at approximately 5pm on Christmas Eve. Ian’s suggestion was not, however as sensible as it seemed, or indeed sensible at all, because he only got those presents on his next trip to Leeds, and that was yesterday.

I could have posted them to Newcastle and he could have had them on Christmas Day. I could have brought them to Newcastle when I was there last month to see him. But no. This is not his way. This is not how his Christmas rolls.

And so, now that Ian has finally got his presents in early March, I am wishing him a very happy Christmas, and offering him my best wishes for 2019.