Comprends, Entiendes, Capisci, Understand?

There are still the remains of sales in some local shops. I am looking for something in particular and  I was in the one shop that might just have provided it. I browsed the department upstairs where you find cushions, bedding, curtains and some menswear. So far no luck, I could not see what I wanted.  All the staff work downstairs, which is where  I found a shop assistant.  While I was asking, it occurred to me that she might not understand what I was looking for:

Me –“I am looking for a counterpane, do you have any?”   Assistant- “ Could you tell me what that might be?”

It seemed I was speaking a foreign language. I explain it is a bed-cover….she continues to look vacantly at me….. I’m thinking quickly about what might be the current trendy modern bed-cover translation and I tentatively suggest “A throw”.

Some comprehension dawns.  The assistant tells me there are no throws……“Throws are for Christmas”

🙂   ❓







Because of the storms last week, post and other deliveries have been seriously delayed. No commercial planes were flying passengers, nor to distribute post to outlying areas, or, to heavily populated ones either. Just imagine the bulky back-up of Christmas and business mail that resulted. Some long distance passenger buses tried to maintain a limited service when the trains could not. The bus drivers were brave, and the buses that battled with the weather, were extraordinarily late in their arrivals. They did, however, arrive. Passengers had some hair-raising tales to tell. It is just possible that a mail van limped through the stormy trail as well, though one of those, by no means, would have dented a sizeable backlog very much.

Trickles of mail arrived here at home by Friday evening. Apart from one letter, everything else was local. Is it possible that the bosses had allowed the local sorting office to do their own local sorting rather than bag everything up to travel hundreds of miles South, only to return North again ❓ I still have difficulty mentally sorting out the economics of that exercise.

At about 4.30pm, Monday 12th December 2011, a wadge of mail landed on the mat, mostly Christmas mail. No packages or parcels have arrived. Don’t get me wrong, I am not expecting tons of presents, I am however, expecting our usual arrivals of mail order, which haven’t shown up. It is this current pattern of deliveries that leads me to believe that there is quite a backlog of mail somewhere in the system, much of it caused by extreme weather conditions. Now, we are waiting for the next severe weather experience that is forecast, which, is bound to have a further impact on mail and courier services.

From past experiences, especially that of last Winter here, I am sure the individuals who work for most of the delivery services will do their level bests to meet the extra demands of Christmas and get their post and parcels to businesses and households. I cannot speak highly enough of the local postal services and the efforts they made in the severe Winter of 2010/2011 with the most difficult of weather conditions – blizzards, ice and deep snow underfoot.


The leaflet for last posting dates to guarantee Christmas delivery has not reached our main post office. Has anyone seen it yet?

Last dates for posting for surface mail to Australia was the 19th September – a month ago – and how are we meant to know this, by osmosis! Oh I know, you go online, if you can, or, you queue up at a post office and request dates in July or August, and if they have the dates at that time, take a note of them.

America and Canada last surface mail date for guaranteed deliveries for the festivities was 17th October, I was told. I figured that as I had missed the guaranteed date by only two days, I could still send my printed paper, which was bound to arrive by end December, early January at the latest, or even arrive much sooner, and I save £3.48p against the airmail cost.

It’s not much good checking on dates in ‘good time’ in October, when you will have already missed the boat for some mail. Presumably, you have to have historical experience of the kind of posting schedules that may exist if you are to work with a system without visible information.


As soon as a wife or partner hitch up, there seems to be an unwritten expectation that the sending of the annual greetings cards to friends and family becomes the total responsibility of one of the partnership, whether all the people on the list are known to the writer or not. 8|

Expectations can be changed without a pre-nuptial/pre-partnership agreement on the matter. It might be, with some couples, that renegotiating the path to communications with everyone in their respective world could be the rocky road to disaster, so, I should not wish to suggest that fairly reorganising the task is the way forward for everyone.

What would you do to apportion the writing of the annual greeting cards?


Very soon, there will be broadcast the annual appeal for work quietly and tirelessly undertaken throughout the United Kingdom through the inspiration and auspices of St-Martin’s-in-the Field church in central London. I do not have an intimate knowledge of much of what is done, but I do know there is a great deal of support given to many people throughout the year, anywhere in Britain, whether it be offering a warm meal, friendship, activity, or a helping hand back into mainstream society.

Crisis at Christmas – known now as Crisis – will also be running an appeal, St Martin’s will be doing similar work, much of it alongside Crisis. A donation of £23, Crisis say, will provide for a homeless person over the Christmas period. I’ll bet it does a bit more besides. I have seen how businesses donate to similar organisations all year round. Without their assistance, the charities could not do the valuable work they do. Without the existence of the St Martin’s continuous outreach, people who will be given a haven over Christmas, will also have the option to have somewhere to link in with and move on to, afterwards.

The awful flooding in Cornwall (in the far South of England) has, we see, yet again, brought out the best in people, who are helping each other where they can. The networks that have been formed by St Martin’s-In-The-Field will, I am sure, also be spurred into action in an incident such as this one. They can respond far more quickly and usefully in the short term, in many small but very important ways, than any bureaucratic organisation will.


“Hey you guys, you are doing Cristmas aren’t you, like getting a tree.” Sprog demanded.

Me. “Hm. Not sure, though I might get some balloons.”

Sprog. “Cool.”

Sounds like sprog will be home for the holidays.

Meantime, I’ve done the bulk of the parcel wrapping, most of the post has gone, the fibre optic candle was positioned yesterday and the tree was erected today. There are now festive pressies around the base of it. Cards are adorning the shelves.

We’ve started to ‘do Christmas’ with visits to the Yuletide play in the County town and the local panto. Let’s see where the moving spirit takes us.



Reading my friend Adamantixx blog on his experience of Christmases past, in which he talked of being on his own, feeling peripheral to the rest of society during the festive time,  got me thinking about two Christmases that have, for me,  particular memories.  So, here is Christmas number one.

I had given up my home to go off onto a residential training course which was to cover many months. However, the course started in the winter and I hadn’t given any thought to Christmas holidays. It never occurred to me that I’d need to be anywhere else.  The residence closed down for a fortnight. All my efforts to make arrangements fell through and I was left unsure about what I would do or where I would go. I decided to speak with a member of staff. “No problem” I was told.

That Christmas I found myself in Guildford in the county of Surrey, in a small room, just furnished with essentials and it was warm. There was no television and no radio but I was fine.  I admit, I felt cast out on a limb. The main difficulty, I discovered, was catering for myself during the festive days, as there was no provision for food  and there were no cooking facilities .

I took myself out for a walk early on Christmas eve, it was cold.  Guildford town Christmas lights were pertly twinkling, the shops restaurants and bars were decked out in festive decorations.  I Ambled along thinking about nothing in particular.  Then, I got talking to a young policeman on the beat. Needless to say,  our discussion turned to Christmas day.  After sharing our likely experiences of this particular Christmas day to come, we made a plan.

The lads, not many of them, had no canteen facilities for Christmas day, rather like me, but they did have access to a kitchen, which I did not.   The officer said that as his friend, I could be invited to visit the police section house.

The plan was that I would buy the necessary food to prepare for the number of lads on duty, (it was agreed that they would chip in with a kitty).  I then gave some thought to the best way to prepare and provide a sober but appetising Christmas meal at staggered times.

The end result was a warm and unexpected pleasant meal for all of us.  I was ordered to leave the washing up.  It was to be a shared job later on.  As the lads finished their duty stints, again, at different times, we gathered in the kitchen with its lovely warm food smells.  With a radio playing Christmas tunes and carols in the background, we sat, talked, played scrabble and just enjoyed each others’ company. The lads were insistent that I should not walk back alone to my digs on that Christmas night. We arranged to meet up again in the section house on Boxing day. There were plenty of left-overs to dig into.