Decriminalisation of the Licence Fee

I like the BBC. Ninety percent of my TV viewing is on, what I call, Public Service Broadcasting. How much is the TV Licence Fee? I think it’s worth every penny.

A recent news item is bringing it into question, whether or not those who do not pay the annual licence should be imprisoned. Listening to pundits from both sides suggest that very few people actually serve jail time for the offence and mostly they are fined; it is the non payment of these fines which leads to their loss of freedom.

An awful lot of our licence fee seems to be directed in the wrong places. It was revealed last year that news presenters who wore trousers earned considerably more than those who wore skirts. They were not judged by their ability, rather by their gender. I can see an argument for abolishing the licence fee if it is channeled this way. More quality dramas, documentaries and less banal quiz shows (‘First And Last’ are Pointless!).

This is what I found on the BBC website and TV Licensing: The bulk of the BBC’s £5 billion funding comes from the licence fee. It also raises around £1.3 billion from selling it’s programmes for broadcast overseas. Over 90% of the licence fee is spent on BBC TV channels, radio stations, BBC iPlayer and online services.

I want to sell the BBC to you. I don’t consider myself old, but I’m not that young either. I don’t fall into the demographic that encompasses live streaming on to my phone or iPad. I need a proper TV screen, okay 60″ might be a little large but I am a bit short-sighted. I don’t wear glasses to view but I might have one in my hand sometimes with an alcoholic beverage. From time to time we need to remind ourselves just how good the content is, such as: ‘Call the Midwife’; ‘Silent Witness’; ‘Line of Duty’; ‘New Tricks’; ‘Waking the Dead’; ‘Miranda’; ‘Gavin & Stacey’; ‘Question Time’and’Newsnight’ I could go on, all these programmes evoke some emotion. We either want to throw our shoes at the TV or we laugh until we cry. Why would we not love that and want to pay for it?
We pay to go to the cinema and the theatre and that’s over in two and a half hours.
I will watch live TV when it’s the Beeb because I’m not bombarded by advertising throughout dramas, comedies and documentaries. I am marginally irritated by programme links but I know that I’m not going to be pestered into buying a family holiday in a Virgin Airways sale. I enjoy dramas, complete and uninterrupted. I don’t want to delay the suspense with toothpaste! How effective is commercial advertising? Do I remember the advertisement that interrupted the current ITV drama ‘White House Farm’? Will I remember it shopping for mouthwash, or will I look at the price of the product and the pennies in my purse?

In 1969 I may have been swayed by the promises of Persil versus Bold, but it’s just there, background noise; an excuse to make a cup of tea.

I personally do not feel that we get influenced by advertising on commercial TV stations. I think we need something new.

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Smart or not so Smart Motorways

Back in the late 50’s early 60’s motorways were constructed through Britain presumably in order to ease traffic. Cars were not as fast although today’s cars have safety specifications. It was not a legal requirement in the UK to wear a seatbelt until 1983. Modern vehicles are fitted with airbags, ABS and some gadget to get you home safely. However, they travel at speeds which are not legal in Britain and can be abused by some motorists.
When we first encountered motorways we did not have crash barriers or central reservations. At the time many people thought they would be unsafe and a dangerous way to travel, over a period of time we’ve come to accept motorways as a fact of life and possibly blasé about their existence, now we cannot avoid them.

My fears were underlined by a Panorama programme yesterday evening. This highlighted the lack of safety on Smart Motorways, people are dying needlessly due to the thoughtlessness of those who planned it because it’s not been given any kind of phased launch. Only a small section of the M42 was initially trialed. Watch it and see for yourselves.

We’ve worked so hard to make our motorways a safe option, why are we now going backwards?
Recently, I was trapped on the M23 for at least an hour with 4 lanes of traffic chock-a-block, freight lorries attempting to change lanes in order to get somewhere quicker, due to a broken down vehicle 3 miles ahead of us. No warnings or notifications, just solid traffic. We drove under motorway gantries and we snail-crept passed signs advising us to await assistance in the event of a breakdown. The risk of overheating was greater to us. Where was the assistance coming from? Only emergency vehicles can use ‘Blues and Twos’ to warn the traffic behind that they need to get through. The RAC, AA and Green Flag don’t have that and indignant drivers are very reluctant to give way unless they have to. So, that Assistance can’t get through, because there is no Hard Shoulder!

Smart Motorways are just not safe. A driver who’s vehicle breaks down is totally unclear as to the best move now the hard shoulder is no longer an option. Should he or she leave their vehicle? Or should they stay in the car and risk being hit by a freight pantechnicon? The hard shoulder is the intrinsic part of the motorway and the advice from the Government and Automobile organisations is unclear and very fuzzy. I’ve just Googled to get advice. If I can get my car to an Emergency Refuge Area (ERA) I should do so, but let’s assume I’ve just passed one and the next one is almost 1.5 miles away and I’ve broken down in the middle lane, lost all power including my lights. Hazards don’t work, what should I do now? If I get out of the car, (forgetting that I’m in a wheelchair and can’t stand) I run the risk of being swept into the line of traffic by a fast moving BMW or if I stay in the car I’m a sitting duck. According to the advice I’ve just read I need the telephone number for Highways England on speed dial!

What are your thoughts on Smart Motorways? If you’re reading this on Facebook, please share and if Twitter is your preferred social media, please retweet. I’ve put a link to a Change.Org petition which might save your life.

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Why, on Monday morning, am I seething?

The reason I am seething on Monday morning (a good word: seething) is that I sometimes feel as if my life is ebbing away waiting…

What am I waiting for, exactly? Is it George Clooney? That’s a possibility, he’s certainly on my Laminate List. Am I waiting for transport for an exciting new event? Well, that ship sailed many years ago! I might be waiting for a new thrilling venture such as a job offer or a publisher, although any publisher needs to have seen my work first and that requires me to mail something to said publisher and I’m just not ready yet, emotionally that is. I’m not good at taking knock-backs.

My life is passing in a series of minutes, which add up to hours, which will eventually equate days, which will turn into years waiting for someone to help me in this hateful disease called MS. I can’t get out of bed in the morning on my own, this is a situation which I struggle to accept and when I’m awake I expect to get out of bed like anyone else. However, as I need someone to assist me I am a little bit impatient in expecting them to ‘jump to it’ when I want to get up. Husband in a hurry gets out of the bedroom, takes himself downstairs to read the sports pages (which cover the football games he has watched live the day before) leisurely makes himself a cup of tea, while I stare at the ceiling upstairs. That wastes approximately 30 minutes of my day. When he is ready, I am lifted from my bed using a tracking hoist and plonked into a shower chair and wheeled into the bathroom. He then proceeds to shower himself while I wait, naked and shivering until it’s my turn, that adds another 10 minutes. When we return to the bedroom, I am placed back in my prone position on the bed to be dried and dressed from my lower half. I am then put onto my commode chair and wheeled in front of my dressing table, HIAH starts deodorising and anointing himself in cologne then dresses and brushes his teeth. At this point I wait for my PA to arrive for work, sometimes that’s 7 minutes or 27 minutes depending on what day of the week it is. My PA of the day finishes my toilette and I am ready and waiting for HIAH to transport me downstairs using the chair lift. Again, I might be waiting for up to 15 minutes until the times comes.

My day is now dependent on other people to a lesser degree. However, on Sunday I was a little miffed. I felt as if I was being overlooked and marginally belittled. I needed to get things done, I wanted to plan things even if I could not carry them out. It’s important that I am involved in my own life. My kitchen, fridge in particular, needed a ‘looking into’ my food cupboard required some reorganising and if I’m not there who else is going to do it? Well, to my standards. Husband in a hurry said I was in a bad mood and I responded with, “Well you should try it, see if you like it!”
He responded, “Maybe you could go out to work instead”
“You fell into that one, I would give anything to go out to work.”

The day did get a little better after that, but on Monday morning I was still simmering, seething even.

I like some words in this amazing thing we call language. The way I felt Monday reminded me how much I enjoy using certain words to describe my emotional state. Seething is a much neglected word, as is ‘dreary’ or ‘ghastly’ or ‘lackadaisical’.

I want to make it my mission to improve my vocabulary, so no more Mrs ‘Nice’ or ‘lovely’ banalities from now on.

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Sue’s Suite; Nick, I’ve found another builder.

This is an update on my new suite.

I know that my new accommodation won’t be done overnight, it will take a few months, not weeks and I don’t think I will be in there until the end of April at the earliest. After the floor is laid it will be 10 weeks drying out and that’s when I can start doing the girlie things to it that will make it mine. However, it is looking less like a garage and more like a planned compact and bijou apartment, one might even call it a boutique boudoir.

On Sunday I planned the electrical requirements with my son-in-law Sean, who happens to be an electrician which is handy. I explained to him that I would need A LOT of sockets. One of the things that frustrates me living in the kitchen, which I do, is that kitchen appliances use up socket space. When my MacBook Pro, or iPad, or iPhone need charging, I’ve only got one spare socket and inconveniently, they all need charging at the same time! Therefore I need 4 sockets laid out on the worktop so that I can reach them. I have been quite demanding in specifying exactly what I need to aid my independence. On Monday, I directed the builder in what I needed in the shower – I was not in the shower with said builder, please do not read this the wrong way! I’m planning an electric shower unit, which needs to be fairly gentle for me; I don’t like needles. He also needed to know about spacing and turning room for my wheelchair. I have quite heated discussions with Husband in a hurry, trying to firmly point out that this is my room and I need to be heavily involved. We are taking a trip to Southend-On-Sea in order to buy my new bed, which seems an awfully long way, but HIAH wants us to go there so we’re going there. It’s a good idea for me to choose carefully the issues that will be the greater and a day out in Southend could be very pleasant.

On Wednesday Sean came to start his electrical work and the bricks were delivered, and taken back because they were the wrong shade. The bricks that were used to build my original house are no longer in production, it was 25 years ago and as a result we need to match as closely as possible or as Peter, my builder, has suggested, we make a feature of the wall to detract from the different shade. Subsequently, new bricks arrived and we can now progress on to the wall.

I was in the shower on Wednesday morning, when it crossed through my mind that the windows will be my exit in case of fire in the kitchen. I wanted to check that my windows would have a fanlight opening for ventilation. It transpired that it had not been planned and as the glass with leading had been produced this would be an extra cost. As it’s an important requirement for me I instructed Peter to go ahead with it and we can save money elsewhere. I’m very keen to have porcelain tiles in my bathroom and that was another discussion which was resolved favourably.

There is a discussion within that family as to whether disabled aids should disappear from the rest of the house now that I will be living downstairs. Should the stairlift be taken out, HIAH thinks it should not be removed but daughter 2 and son-in-law think it should go. There is a thought that I might use it in future to snuggle up with grandchildren when they stay, but they will always know that where I am the chocolate biscuits will be and they can come and stay in my new bedroom, indeed Meadow can’t wait!

This will take a while to complete and patience is something I am very good at. It has been a long time in the planning and will be over a year from the initial concept, which is something at the time I hadn’t quite understood, but it is going to be worth it in the end and I am in the process of planning a grand opening with much prosecco, gin and chocolate.

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The beginning of Sue’s Suite, Nick Knowles please apply.

We celebrated 25 years in our house last Sunday. Coincidentally, that was also Henry’s birthday. When ‘Husband in a Hurry’ iniatally shared with me that we were moving from Hampshire, my home, to East Sussex, which I’d never heard of, the only way he could get me to agree was to suggest that this would only be for 3 years. I moved on the understanding that I would return to my home.

In the 25 years, yes, a quarter of a century, I have moved on in my progression of MS. Back home I was struggling a little to stay on my toes. I used walls to support me and I bumped downstairs on my bottom, which was safer. So, in our new house, house not bungalow, we had a stair lift installed. That was the first of a slippery slope into my present state.

Husband in a Hurry (HIAH) knew of my reticence to move and was keen to soften the reality by suggesting that I might find it helpful to use an indoor wheelchair around our new home, which had dual opening internal doors. This also saved a series of finger marks all over our freshly painted walls. This was useful to me, however with hindsight I would probably have benefited from staying upright on two legs for as long as possible.

As my MS has moved on, each new presentation has been met with a solution: use of the hoists and shower chair, eating food with one hand, using drinking straws; all those little things that add up to my total loss of independence. We have fitted lowered units to the kitchen, we have allowed for ramps throughout the house, we have made every adaption necessary, but when HIAH hurt his back badly last March it became clear that something major must happen.

Here we are then, conversion of double garage into my new ground floor bedroom and wet room. This began on Monday, well, I say that, the building work began Monday but the planning started last Spring. It’s been hard for HIAH to give up his garage. What is it with men, garages and sheds?

As I’m the one who is going to be spending my time in this new ‘suite’ I feel I should be involved. However, at the start of this week men were talking ‘manly things’ to each other, such as taking extra feet from the living space, to make the wet room bigger. We have a lot of drilling, hammering, dust and a Porta Potty in the front garden, which is good because it saves trailing through my house all the time. The builders have their own means of making hot drinks, they provide their own lunches and despite my son-in-law’s assurances, they are not demanding biscuits.

Today I had a long consultation with our Project Manager, Peter, and I am feeling a lot more comfortable and included.

To be continued….


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The year 2020

Do you remember the Millennium Bug? Life as we knew it would change beyond recognition. It didn’t change much for me. I was the same daughter, wife, mother that I always have been and always would be. No planes fell out of the sky, there was still food in the shops and I still spent too much money.

This year, 2020, is supposed to be ‘The Year of Clarity’ a time where we understand and recognise what we need to do in order to save the world, 2021 will not happen if we do not act now. I think it’s more personal as well, I think we need to repair everything; not just the world and it’s oceans but we need to fix our relationships and our whole outlook on life.

New Year Resolutions seem a little trivial compared to the task ahead of us. When asked if I was making any this year I could have come up with ‘I need to lose weight; I should be more assertive; perhaps I should think before I say things that might hurt’.

Space exploration might suggest that finding life on Mars gives us the right to inhabit a whole new planet, perhaps because we’ve worn this one out. Where does that inherent belief that we have the power to populate somewhere else in our solar system come from? We can’t ship two of each species, as Noah did, to another planet and so we would have to clone life, that would remove any suffering, any serious diseases and where would this stop? Would only the very intelligent, the smartest brains, the prettiest people, the fittest and healthiest human beings qualify? No ugliness here. Would we still have greed, selfishness and intolerance? How could we eliminate that? That’s what’s done for this planet as far as I can see!

So, we eat too much, all of us and food is not shared out. In Africa people starve because of corruption, mostly. We kid ourselves that we help famines by sending money but it goes into the pockets of despots who live in palaces. In Australia the fires of recent months have shown us how it is so impossible to control weather patterns. In Indonesia, floods are causing untold misery and Indonesia is not that far from Australia.

No one has told Donald Trump that this year is the year of clarity. He’s just picking a fight, like a bully in a playground. It makes no sense to me that anyone should try to start a war, which he seems to be doing. Surely we should be working towards harmony and supporting each other in a global fight to save our planet.

This year I will try to do my bit in my own little corner of the world. I will recycle more this year than I did last year. I will use up more food in interesting and innovative ways. I won’t buy anymore plastic straws and I will use my stainless steel ones. I think I need to be more vociferous in getting shops and supermarkets to change things, I just feel that we are unable to save the world singlehandedly but I can make my own little changes and collectively it will make a difference.

I’m not ready to leave this world yet, please join in.

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This Christmas, think of others.

As I get older I feel a compulsion to be something other than a good daughter, a wife, and a mother. I just feel I need to leave a greater footprint.

I’ve been looking for something for a while. There are so many issues in our world and indeed in our own backyard that need addressing, but what can I help with from my wheelchair? It’s difficult for me to volunteer with tree planting as there’s a good chance I’ll fall out of my chair and cause more problems then I’d be solving! I can’t find Wellies that fit me and my wheels would get stuck in the mud anyway. Imagine if you like, other volunteers having to pick me up off the ground, just not worth it.

People run marathons for charity, but an electric wheelchair is cheating. Twenty years ago I asked my GP if he thought it would be okay for me to do a tandem parachute jump. He surprisingly said ‘No’, I could have been happy strapped to a fit young parachute instructor, but this was before the symptoms of MS began to place their grip on my life. Symptoms now like trigeminal neuralgia prevent me being in drafts and I think that falling out of the sky is a bit of a draft. Likewise bungee jumping or abseiling are off the agenda.

Homelessness in this country is on the rise and should be something that we’re all aware of. If I have a roof over my head and food in the cupboard, warmth and company I can’t want for more. There are people who won’t enjoy a Christmas dinner and will just be grateful to have a dry sleeping bag on the 25th. How can I help them? Food poverty is huge. I’m hearing that Food Banks are on the increase in every town and families are having to choose between food and heating this Christmas. This makes me feel very angry and guilty, I feel angry because this is the 21st Century and no one should be struggling, especially children. I have so much but need so little. Every parent loves their child and would give their all but in many cases this is so difficult.

Globally, our dependence on plastics polluting our oceans, our decimation of rain forests in order to feed cattle to feed ourselves most of whom are already overweight, and I include myself in this. Have you ever tried to buy something that doesn’t contain palm oil? We do not need all of this, our population is already increasing throughout the world and we’re not doing anything about it, neither can we feed them all.

I don’t want to be ‘doom and gloom’ at this time of the year. I love Christmas and having my family and my grandchildren around me is everything to me. I can’t tell you how this feels and fills my heart just to anticipate it, so I’ve made a decision. I can’t do something about everything, but I can help in my own little corner of the world. From January I intend to make a Food Bank donation of one weekly grocery delivery each month. I have got my local supermarket onboard with me and even if this doesn’t become a widespread campaign across the country, at the very least I know I am doing something. I don’t need to shout about it from the rooftops, but this is my own little way of giving back.

Happy Christmas everyone!

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It’s not my fault, this time.

I would like to apologise to the Women’s Suffrage Movement and to the women who fought and died to win me the right to vote. For the first time in my adult life I have not voted in an General Election. I’m sorry, really sorry, that I did not go out in the wind and the rain in order to vote, but it would appear that my local candidate didn’t need my vote anyway.

So we’ll move on to more cheery things, Christmas.

Certain things have become a tradition in this house at Christmastime. We always place the tree in the same place because it stays cold in the conservatory and the tree lasts longer. I always visit Winchester Christmas Market because it’s a) a good chance to catch up with Mum & Dad and b) it’s Winchester and I love it! Husband in a Hurry and I always trek up to Bluewater and buy almost all of everyone’s presents from there, because they have such a wide choice of retail stores. We always visit Marks and Sparks in Shoreham. It’s a lovely store, not quite as big Hedge End, but it’s still M & S. When we first started making a Christmas trip to Shoreham it seemed exciting and we made a day of it, almost. It was always very Christmassy and 24 years ago we needed new decorations for the tree and the food was so enticing. It is possible that we spent a lot of money down there and we both bought new Christmas jumpers every year. Now we don’t need as much, the jumpers only get worn for 2 weeks of the year and although it is true that we have expanded a little, they still fit, just. Although we bought much festive fare it didn’t seem to get used up somehow with all the Waitrose festive fare and all the other Terry’s, Cadbury’s, Hôtel Chocolat offerings, they never were consumed. They never reached their ‘chocolate potential’.

On Wednesday, we jumped in the car (as much as I can jump) and made the annual pilgrimage to Shoreham. When we relocated to East Sussex in the olden days, back in the 1990’s last century, the journey on the A27 took us past the newly built Holmbush Centre, which housed and still does, M & S, MacDonalds & Tesco. We were approaching Christmas 1994 and we would often swing off of the A27 and into the centre. It was exciting for my daughters, even though the Hedge End M & S was bigger and in my eyes will always be better. It was always a treat to see something different.

This time, last week, this shopping expedition seemed to be a bit more of a chore. It might have been the weather, very wet, it might have been the impending election or it just might have been pre-Christmas fatigue, but it didn’t seem as exciting as usual.
Me: “You don’t have to go if you don’t want to”
HIAH: “No, it’s fine, we haven’t got any other time to do it.”
Me: “Yes, but there’s not anything we really need, is there?”
HIAH: ” We’ll just go down there, it’s fine. We’ll just have a look, we like going down to Shoreham”
Me: “Okay, if that’s what you want. Are you sure?”

So off we go in the car.

We arrive and in a freezing cold hailstorm disembark and rush inside, out of the chill wind.

HIAH: “I don’t need any clothes!”
Me: “Nor do I, although Helen did say I should look for more trousers” said reluctantly.
HIAH: “Why? Do you need new trousers?”
Me: “Well some of them are getting a bit old, but they probably won’t have any”

We’re wending our way through the clothes, aiming to eventually get to the Mecca that is the Food Hall. On the way Husband in a Hurry is distracted the glitz of the Christmas paraphernalia, he picks up items from displays and I say, before he says ‘do we want this?’
“NO! We don’t need more napkins, table runners or candleholders”
So onward we reach our destination, we look at chocolates in boxes and Husband in a Hurry says: “We don’t need any of these, remember we threw away loads last year. We don’t need any M & S biscuits.”
He picks up crisps, “Do we want these?”
I say: “Well you’d better get two packets, as you’ll eat one on the way home”

I don’t know if it’s me or if it’s M & S but the glitter has fallen away from my eyes. It’s slightly underwhelming and not quite as exciting as previous years.
I wish I felt the same way, but perhaps I’ve done this too often and we need to change the tradition.

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Sometimes, there’s just no helping people

This is not a blog that is written in any kind of Christmas spirit, pardon the pun.

Someone I know has a friend who is going through a tough time in their relationship with their partner.

Jane, (my friend) spent an evening with this person and has found it very difficult to cope with the fallout afterwards. Jane came to me one afternoon and I could see that she was stressed. Over a cup of coffee she found herself disclosing the problem to me, without mentioning her friend’s name. Jane didn’t want to be a gossip-monger and she was reluctant to tell me too much, but I think she trusts me to know that I am a good listener without judgement. So, what could she do? How can she help?

It’s a tricky one, this. There is only so much that we can do to help our friends when they confide in us. The lady who is going through issues with her partner might be drinking too much. Jane said that two bottles of wine were consumed that evening and as she said to me, ‘I only had one and a half glasses, I don’t know how else she would have got home that night, the taxi dropped her as close to her house as it could’. Jane found her friend clearly affected by the drink and she became very emotional during the ride home. Jane felt very embarrassed and as she said to me, ‘She’s just a friend and all the tears were too much for me. I knew this was the drink talking, but it was so embarrassing.’ Jane found the evening quite uncomfortable as her friend was using language that should only be heard in a barroom, Public of course and the whole thing was totally inappropriate because the partner that was being insulted is a good friend of Jane’s husband, that’s how they met initially.

I didn’t know how to help Jane out of this one. I haven’t got any experience with alcohol related abuse and my counselling background didn’t cover this. Anyway, Jane is a friend and it wouldn’t be right to try and practise on her.

No matter what Jane might suggest to help her friend she will not be able to unless she wants to be helped to figure a way out. Alcohol can take control of someone’s life even when they don’t realise it’s happening. I don’t want to be holier than thou about it, I enjoy a drink just as much as the next person. It’s easy to fall into a trap with drink. The instinct to have a glass of wine and then another one is often easier than facing up to issues in one’s own life. It seems to me that it’s a ‘chicken and egg’ dilemma. What came first in Jane’s friends’ relationship? Is her drinking the cause or the symptom?

Oh how I miss practising counselling!

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Elf Help

The elves from my childhood were Santa’s helpers. They had green stripy legs and they had names like Patch and Sugar Socks and they always helped on the Big Day. I am a little confused, Christmas seems to have lost some of it’s magic.

For a start who decided that Advent Calendars should be full of chocolate, where did that come from? I had to work really conscientiously shopping to find one without any treats inside. John Lewis came through, expensively, with a perfect calendar; quite churchy but really nice. When Henry and Meadow saw it they were underwhelmed by it ‘Nonna, where’s the chocolate?’
‘There isn’t any, isn’t it pretty?’.
The two of them turned to granddad and asked ‘Have you got your calendar and has it got chocolate?’
Of course granddad’s has got chocolate in it.

For me, Christmas was always about the birth of Jesus. Mary & Joseph and the census and no room at the inn and the Inn-Keeper saying: ‘There’s a stable over there if that’s any good to you’ and Baby Jesus being born and laying him in a manger. Shepherds and the Angel Gabriel, the three kings following the star. We weren’t overly religious but I went to church every Sunday and it fills my heart now just to think of what Christmas meant to me instead of all of today’s consumerism.

Back to the elf, against my better judgement I allowed one into the house last year. My elf, who shall remain nameless, apparently had to do mischevious or naughty things. It was a tricky 24 days for me catching up with this elf. He or she was responsible for messing up my bookshelf, throwing cushions on the floor and untidying my kitchen cupboards. I spent all my time undoing all their impish things, so this year I had to have a word with the ‘Elf on the Shelf’ I explained that as a disabled person he or she needed to be a little bit more considerate of other people and their limitations. I explained about random acts of kindness and I think it went in. This year we’ve started off with the Help Elf. I know it’s early days but on Day 3 so far the elf has helped with seasonal mug swap and has overseen the annual retrieval of the Christmas decorations from the loft. Elf has promised to assist with sorting laundry and keep my tea box topped up.

Where did this elf come from? It was clearly imported from America on a plane or a boat or a train and now it’s here it’s obviously going to stay. Even Alexa confirms this and she knows everything. I think that Christmas is losing it’s charm. Santa Claus seems to have taken over and is rubbing his hands with glee as his pockets get heavier. Once upon a time a Christmas list sent up the chimney was allowed to be a list but with the understanding that Father Christmas could only carry one gift on his sleigh. Now Santa Claus brings many more presents somehow, but I don’t know how he carries them all.

I don’t want to feel disillusioned or cynical as Christmas approaches. I love this festival, but the pressure of having the perfect tree or stack of gifts or even the perfect Christmas lunch is so great that it takes away the enchantment. All my friends talk about the stress of Christmas, we all complain to each other over the cost of things, the waste and yet we all just carry on the same way allowing ourselves to be drawn in by the hype and advertising and media over Christmas.

What do you think?

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