Monday, December 19, 2005

On a more positive note...

My Christmas tree is finally up. It looks fantabulous and scents the room with sweet woody pine resin. For the last eleven years I have had 'Bring A Bottle and a Bauble' parties. I reccommend them as a genius way to get the Christmas season off to a great start. You buy your tree and stick the lights on it, stick music on, get the twiglets out and the mulled wine on, get out your pathetic box of last year's bashed baubles and let your guests express themselves with artistry, alcohol, decorations that they have brought with them. Your tree gets decorated, your guests get creative and bond with each other as they fiddle with each other's balls, the party has a theme and a centrepiece and all you have to do is coo appreciation and pass round mince pies.

I now have a massive box of baubles and happy memories from all my guests of the last decade, and although I didn't have the party this year, getting out all the stuff made me feel choked up but in a good way.

I have been more or less unable to deal with Christmas this year, couldn't get excited about it at all, though normally I adore it. This year it felt like a series of chores and lists to get through and the present buying felt pointless and even schmaltzy Christmas music set me off in a downward spiral. Any proper carols left me in floods. All the sentiments of peace on earth, hope, joy, when it felt like we were reaching the end of a year of horrible bloodshed and hate and death and war, led by men who claim to be godly, but know so little of compassion, of peace. Who seem, in fact, to want a world at permanent war. That both fighting sides say they do it for 'God' and 'freedom' and 'justice' as they murder and main is more than I can stand, most of the time, and right now, it leaves me in shreds.

We bought a tree and it sat outside in a bucket of water in the yard for over a week, because we had not time to dress it and I couldn't face it. I am never like this normally. I don't know what the matter is with me. Well, clearly I do, but it is all very distressing.

Anyway, now the tree is up, and I am weepy but calm. And for the first time ever, J and I are doing Christmas by ourselves, instead of going to Norfolk and Preston and Kent and having three Christmasses with 3 familes, in ten days, all done on public transport, with Miff the cat in a box on my lap *( we don't have a car). It has been a hell of a year, and J and I are desperate for peace, if not peace on earth, at least peace in North London. I will miss seeing my family, but I very badly need to rest and spend time with my honey, I am exhausted.

I am looking forward to finishing work on Wednesday and finally calming down and having some time to myself. I can't wait.

Of course, carol-singing is an important part of Christmas, and even though it will have me in floods like a boiled owl this year, especially when we sing Amazing Grace, I urge you to join us if you can make it, in Parliament Square on Wednesday this week at 6pm. It's important to protect these traditions, beloved of us all in this country for a thousand years. Now more than ever.


Blogger Spirit of 1976 said...

Just a quick question. How do you manage to stop Miff the cat from dismantling your Christmas tree? I have two kittens, whose reaction to our tree was, "YAY! A BIG GREEN FURRY CLIMBING FRAME FOR US!"

Hence, my Christmas tree is now looking in a sorry state due to too many episodes of kittens trying to attack each other while swinging from the branches.

December 19, 2005 4:54 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Miff is incredibly fat and lazy and can't be arsed to climb anything unless there is a meal at the top of it.

She likes lying underneath it, waving her paws and floppong her belly out though

December 19, 2005 5:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi rachel,

wishing u and j an early merry christmas..

seth :)

December 19, 2005 6:45 pm  
Blogger Ally said...

Miff sounds like my Simpkin. He's so enormously fat that he has a bald bit on his belly where it rubs as he oozes through his cat-flap.

[thinks ... ] I hope that doesn't make me sound like a bad, un-cat-caring person :/.

December 19, 2005 9:10 pm  
Blogger MuppetLord said...

Have a Merry Christmas, it sounds like you need one.

December 20, 2005 11:06 am  
Blogger Leigh said...

I'm sure cats prove difficult, but try having 2 Great Danes. They don't just climb the tree--they knock it all the way over! I guess that's what I get for have dogs the size of small horses...

Anyway, Merry Christmas! Hopefully 2006 will be exceptional for us all.

xoxo, L

December 20, 2005 8:54 pm  
Blogger Mimi NY said...

Re: cheering yourself up - make your own doll!

I had fun anyway....

December 20, 2005 9:14 pm  
Blogger Clare said...

Glad you are feeling a bit more Christmassy Rachel and I'll hopefuly be able to make it to the carol service tomorrow.

December 20, 2005 10:28 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Am definitely up for coming carolling tomorrow - thanks for the link to it... Have passed it around to friends & family..

December 20, 2005 11:28 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Have a great time together at the Carol service. I'd be right there with you - if I wasn't about 250 miles away. Heh. Seriously - I'll be with you all in spirit. Enjoy!

December 21, 2005 12:32 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Just saw you questions about events on 7/7 in the your blog lower down/the papers. A couple of points....

1) I was at Bishopsgate on the day. Got evecuated - had a day off really. Anyway, I use to work in telecomms.. The mobile system didn't go down - only parts of it. I was sending SMS messags and using GPRS data services throughout the day. The SMS system backed up for a while (message taking 30 minutes to get through), but GPRS was fine. I got most of my news off the mobile edition of the BBC website via my phone (yes, I have geeky organiser phone). My educated guess is that the congestion in the system was blocking calls - most people don't realize that in a single "cell", if more than a few people try to make calls, then the system overloads. To experince this, try making after a big crowd event. Though, these days, the mobile companies use portable cells (a van full of gear) to try and improve coverage for such events. If the system had been blocked, the GPRS and SMS systems would have been blocked to. I actually wrote code for telephone exchanges at one point.....

The reason that event was labelled as an electrical problem and stayed that way is probably an artifact of how large organisations work, particularly when there is a group of them. The tube guys in the central control rooms saw what looked like a power failiure. So, they logged it as one, passing the information down the line. So, poeple at the bottom of the chain (station staff, even) would have heard from on high that there was a power failiure. Mentally, at that point, everything they saw would be added to that, until the evidence contradicted the incorrect information - smoke in the tunnel? Must be a transformer. People injured - a derailment caused the power problem etc... The police and ambulance people got the word that it was power failiure - surely the guys who run the tube should know?..... If you read the history of various disasters/accidents, wrong information can stay in the system for a startling amount of time. A case in point was when HMS Royal Oak was torpedoed during WWII. Despite the hole the side of a bus in the ship, no one realized that they had been torpedoed until it happend again!

December 21, 2005 9:26 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thank you for the info about the phone system, anon. Interesting stuff. It woudl be good to have all this out in the open at a public enquiry

December 23, 2005 10:26 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

and thanks everyone else for the comments which made me smile.

December 23, 2005 10:27 am  

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