The ground floor flat that I pass on my way to our door (the one with the kitten, now cat) has already got a Christmas tree. I saw it through the window. It’s in a pot and is sitting on a windowsill. It has been dressed and its lights glisten. It looks real. How will it last the four weeks?
I don’t remember ever having a real tree as a child. My mother preferred fake ones. I can’t abide the mess. Sacrilege to her countrymen. They wade out into snow-deep forests and cut their own. She had a white one. I thought it marvellous. The way the red fairy lights spilt their redness, staining the white. It was tall, thick, bushy and majestic. I missed the smell of pine. I ached for it. Another delighted in fake candles. She bought me some for Christmas. They had to be charged and they flickered like real candles. Like gas fires, like electric light fittings made to look like candles. Even churches have them now. No more tea lights for a Euro. A click when the money goes in and a another white plastic stub lights up orange. I miss the strike of the match, the heat of the flame, the catching of the wick and the stink of sulphur. Convenience, health and safety. Just as good. Just as good. Even better.
Not so cold today. The clouds disperse, a dusky pink moving across the sky. Morning breaks.
At breakfast he read from A Nature’s Diary. You know why the birds are bobbing about on the pavements? he asked. No. They can’t get at the worms cos’ the ground is frozen. It says here that they forage amongst leaves for beetles and puff their feathers out to keep warm. They try to carry on as normal, it says here.