The tree is dressed and wreaths of roses are clambering up the staircase. All the presents have been purchased and a few have been wrapped. Beverley’s paid a welcome seasonal visit and I’ve bought some of the food that we might be eating in a couple of weeks.
Arrangements for New Year’s Eve have even been – well – arranged. All in all, it’s not a bad start.
However, cards have not been written because there are no cards; I’m no longer financing Royal Mail or whatever they’re called this week. Lists have not been made because there’s been no time. At the end of such a long term, those of us who would have retired by now had we been born a decade earlier are literally dragging ourselves around the place, aging by the hour. People apologise for being unable to string a sentence together at 8am; and again at what used to be referred to as lunch-time before it was cancelled; and at close of play. There has to be some gloom in order that we can look forward. But, on the other hand, the rabbit now owns a suitcase.
The search has been epic in proportions: all over the country, folk have been on the look-out for a suitable accessory in which Barley can pack his flannel and toothbrush when he goes home for the weekend with one or other of the schoolchildren. Finally, at an outing the three of us took to the vintage market last Saturday, a red and white spotted suitcase, replete with ancient brown label, was located by aged friend. Eagerly, we peered at the ancient brown label to ascertain the cost. What did it say? ‘Not for Sale’. NO! Surely not. Young woman, hopelessly trying to claim its raison d’etre was to display her peg angels, was beaten into submission by the old folks. There was no escape and the deal was done; obviously with a discount for upsetting the elderly.
Barley’s battered suitcase was passed to man-child’s girlfriend via man-child with a degree of smugness. We will amiably humour the young school-teacher without a hint of ridicule. Young and very well brought-up school-teacher asked, electronically, how much she owed.
‘Nothing: it’s a gift for the rabbit’.
In return, ancient being was sent a photograph of Barley clutching his new suitcase.
What’s this? Barley is not a REAL rabbit! Can it be true? We’ve spent weeks on a mission for a stuffed animal?
Tonight, the Christmas Star is shining brightly over the reed marshes; over the Sika deer; over the never-yet-seen otters; over the quietened seabirds; over the getting-ready-to-hoot owls; over the hungry foxes; all over our little world and hopefully over all of you, dear readers.