Sunday, 25 December 2011


Happy Christmas!

What's in its pocketses?
See all you regular readers (hello Mom!) in the New Year for less frequent posting (thank goodness).

Now go pillage some stockings and eat too many cookies. 

Saturday, 24 December 2011

24: Direct bribery

C is for c'mon Santa. 
Day 24.

There is a spectre haunting Europe - the spectre of lumpy coal. 

Today is a day for soul searching and piper paying. A day to be weighed in the scales and found wanting.

We have been sort of good some of the time...more or less. Surely that counts for something?

For everything else there's cookies.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

21: Elves

Welcome Christmas, bring your cheer. 
Advent day 21. We can hardly wait for Christmas. The elves find our impatience amusing, and pull faces behind our backs.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Monday, 19 December 2011

19: Give and take

Winning at robots.
Confession time.

We cracked into the boxes shipped over an ocean to our doorstep. We did this on the flimsy pretext that we won't actually be at home on Christmas day.

What AWESOME toys for us the kids. We are lucky to have such a wonderful family (thanks guys).

Speaking of festive surprises, today I rediscovered one of my favourite Christmas carols in a Tesco ad (see video below), featuring cheerful mostly sober people. A slightly odd choice given the style of the song, which I would describe as "drunken obscenity volley".

If you live in Britain and have ever been to a pub, you know this song.

The plot involves that scraggly pair of substance-enthusiasts outside your local Tesco, engaged in a blazing holiday row.

Again, if you live in Britain and have ever left your home even for five minutes, you know this couple.

Typically, they have one remaining tooth between them, and are shouting about something both childish and obscene in voices that can only come from living rough and smoking whiskey.

My other half actually makes a point of saying hello to these star-crossed lovers, always with a smile and eye contact. He does this simply because he's noticed that no one else talks to them.

One Christmas he convinced a rowing Tesco couple to smile and stop punching each other while he took their portrait. Then he gave it to them as a present.

They were genuinely happy for at least five minutes. The woman said she would post it to her daughter, who had gone into care. It was like a Hallmark moment, if Hallmark had a Dickensian urban misery gift card range.

Amazing what a smile can do, with or without teeth.

However I remain terrified of hearing the "Sickbed of Cuchulainn" in the frozen peas aisle.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

18: Papa special

End of the breadcrumb trail. 
Day 18, and we are trying not to devour Papa and Ana's new creation.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Friday, 16 December 2011

Thursday, 15 December 2011

15: Westward leading

Perfect light. 
Day fifteen and we have not yet found Orientar. Nor do we have any good leads to be honest. However, in the Dory 'just keep swimming' school of thought, we are doggedly following yonder star.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

14: We three kings from space

I, robot of Orientar.
As a kid, I used to spend Christmas Eve in a church pew, desperately wondering where the heck Orientar was.

Which just goes to show how little it takes to confuse the almighty heckfire out of a kid. Or a grown-up for that matter.

Truly I tell you, little changes over time. We just get taller. Some of us.

Maybe the search for Orientar's perfect light is why my itchy feet are still proceeding through time, space, and rainy islands. Maybe that's a bunch of crap I just made up due to Compulsive Typing Disorder (CTD), a ailment for which the prognosis is poor.

Anyway, as any lapsed Lutheran worth her salt can tell you, it's high time to set up the Nativity. And knock it down. And set it back up again. And knock it down.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Etc.

That's just the way we Orientarians roll.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

13: Santa, baby

'Please send spaceship and world domination.' 
Day 13 finds us writing very earnest letters to Santa.

Monday, 12 December 2011

12: Remembering roots

Gardening leave. 
Day 12 was supposed to be something sappy about Santa, but I got distracted by a cool memorial to Thomas Paine near Angel station.

This is the inscription on the front: "These are the times that try mens souls."

Hidden round the back of the stonework is this: "Lay then the axe to the root and teach governments humanity."

This city is full of wonderful snippets of humanity like this.

Not sure what this has to do with Christmas or angels, but now I've got the "John Brown's Body" stuck in my head.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

11: Lamentations

Day 11. We have lit a candle to St Calpol, patron saint of lurgy-blighted short people.

We are tired of the plague now and St Jude seems occupied elsewhere.

St Calpol, pray for us...pretty please?

Saturday, 10 December 2011

10: Columnist

Straight and narrow. 
Day ten is continuing to make the bad sort of puns that regular readers (hey Mom!) have come to expect of this ragtag editorial team.

Friday, 9 December 2011

9: Four in the afternoon

All day twilight. 
Day nine is gazing wistfully at warmly lit afternoon/evening windows, and dreaming of soup.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

8: Something old

Pity the faux chinchillas. 
Day eight is wandering down the dusty aisles of a local vintage fair, wondering if people ever really wore that much fake fur.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

7: Snowflake cake

With a light dusting of sugar. 
We are dreaming of snow and deep fried foods on day seven of Advent.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

6: Still at the frost fayre

Butterfly kisses. 
Day six in Advent. Last weekend we met the world's most talented face painter, who I suspect may actually be on the payroll of North Pole Inc. I came home with a winter butterfly.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Friday, 2 December 2011

2: Make cocoa, not paperwork

First they came for the migrants.
The second Christmas light is St Jude, patron saint of desperate causes.

He is lit in memory of Joaquin Luna, a dreamer, and for the others who exist in shadow and are destroyed by paperwork.

Thanksgiving (when Joaquin died) and Christmas are both fitting days to welcome our fellow humans in from the cold. Especially the huddled masses.

You may be familiar with a story of fiery destruction and pillars of salt from  the quaintly-named local of Sodom and Gomorrah. If you've read the bible (hello Mom!), you'll know that the whole kerfuffle was down to the local custom of treating foreigners like crap. Contrary to popular opinion, it had little to do with the local disco scene.

Even in the good old days of S&G, a lack of hospitality was seen as unforgivably uncivilized - indeed your whole town might go up in smoke if you neglected to share your toys and play well with others.

Maybe that's why the founding paperwork, if you've read it (still there Mom?), is very specific on the point that 'all men are created equal' and 'endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights' namely 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'.

Fear not: it's all mulled wine and cookies from here on out.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

1: Advent part deux

To build a fire. 
Regular readers of this blog (hello Mom!) will recall that last year I devoted an inordinate amount of time to a virtual Advent calendar.

I would like to do the same thing this year, albeit on a smaller budget and for more austere times. So I will post one Advent photo every day in December.

Friends: here's an open invitation from my HQ to yours to create and share your own Advent photo calendar. Fill it with a daily picture, a daily thought, total nonsense, whatever.

Here's the first of my Christmas lights - a luminaria from last Christmas Eve.

By the way, you might be interested to find out that 'austere' is actually an old Saxon word that means fewer frills and a lot more crap.