Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Christmas Selection Box # 8


On the eve of the special day
As I sit beside the fire
Peace upon the earth
Is my one abiding desire


Anna Walls (Christine Taylor), a sceptical magazine writer who is assigned to chronicle the 50th anniversary of Kris Kringle (William Morgan Sheppard) in the town of Mistletoe.
The town in fact wasn’t always called Mistletoe it was originally Summertown but it was such a Christmas town the inhabitants renamed it.
Mistletoe’s Santa Claus is hanging up his hat After 50 years (don’t panic he’s not THE Santa Claus) and Anna Walls is assigned to see what makes him tick.
This is complicated by the fact that because of a personal tragedy in her life Anna is a nonbeliever, not only in Santa but Christmas itself.
So slowly through her interactions with the townspeople, in particular Mark Stafford (Christopher Wiehl), Anna quickly discovers how much Kris Kringle means to the small town, and how much Christmas means to Kris Kringle.
But through her investigations will Anna recapture her Christmas spirit? That is the big question.
Well it is Christmas after all.


I dream of Christmas
And hope the snow will fall
I dream of a snowy scene
When Santa comes to call


There's no Christmas this year
There will be no Christmas cheer
For Santa checked the naughty list
And found himself a naughty miss
Then picked her up in his sleigh
And then flew her off to St Tropez


Written by Bell, Andy / Clarke, Vince / Traditional

Gaudete, gaudete
Christus est natus
Ex Maria Virgine
Tempus adest gratiae
Hoc quod optabamus
Carmina laetitiae
Devote reddamus
Deus homo factus est
Natura mirante
Mundus renovatus est
A Christo regnante
Ezechielis porta
Clausa pertransitur
Unde Lux est orta
Salus invenitur
Ergo nostra contio
Psallat iam in lustro
Benedicat Domino
Salus Regi nostro


It’s Christmas time again
When the spirit is beautiful
When every pocket is empty
But every heart is full


They stood in breathless wonder
At the babe so meek and mild
And with their gifts they knelt
At the feet of the holy child


Oh pretty snowflake
Gentle on my face
Oh delicate beauty
Like Belgian lace
Oh pretty snowflake
Thing of grace
You were here
Now not a trace


Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
Written by Johnny Marks and Performed by Brenda Lee

Rockin' around the Christmas tree
At the Christmas party hop
Mistletoe hung where you can see
Every couple tries to stop

Rockin' around the Christmas tree
Let the Christmas spirit ring
Later we'll have some pumpkin pie
And we'll do some carolling

You will get a sentimental feeling
When you hear
Voices singing "Let's be jolly"
Deck the halls with boughs of holly

Rockin' around the Christmas tree
Have a happy holiday
Everyone dancing merrily
In the new old-fashioned way

You will get a sentimental feeling
When you hear
Voices singing "Let's be jolly"
Deck the halls with boughs of holly

Rockin' around the Christmas tree
Have a happy holiday
Everyone dancing merrily
In the new old-fashioned way


But softly the myriad snowflakes fall
These infinite flakes of purest white
Like pure white down of angels wings
Floating gently from heavens height

But this is no heaven sent delight
This thing of beauty that cruelly lingers
For harshly touched is the naked earth
When touched by winters icy fingers

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Mistletoe And Miracles

Mistletoe And Miracles (Part One)

It was Christmas Day at my parents’ house and it was heaving with all my happy semi intoxicated relatives, Mum and Dad, my kid brother, two older sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins.
And I’m glad they were happy even if I wasn’t.
I just wished they would take their happiness elsewhere I had no need of it.
Even if I was the reason the entire clan had assembled that day.
It was my mother’s idea to invite everyone to make Christmas noisy and happy and jolly to keep me distracted.
My mother was something of a force of nature so when she “invited” it was generally accepted to be an order, she meant well of course.
Christmas Dinner was tolerable enough, the jollity was blissfully muted when they had their mouths full of my mums excellent cooking.
But then as soon as the last spoonful of Christmas Pud had been consumed it all ramped up again.
Mum organized the girls in the kitchen and Dad got everyone else clearing away in preparation for an afternoon of fun.
I retreated to the hall and got my coat on the last thing I needed was fun.
“Where are you going Nick?” mum asked
“I just need to walk my dinner off” I replied patting my stomach
She nodded her understanding and knew it was nothing to do with needing a constitutional.
“Do you want some company?” she asked
“No mum I’ll be fine, I won’t be long”
“You’ll need your hat and scarf” she insisted and draped a scarf around my neck and pulled my woolen hat on my head.
Then she put a hand on each cheek and kissed me like she did when I was a boy.
I smiled a weak smile.
"You’ll need gloves as well" she said “its bitter cold out there”
Her voice cracked and she walked quickly back into the kitchen.
I wished for her sake I could hide my sadness, it had almost been as difficult a year for her as it had for me.
"I'll be fine mum," I said to myself "I just need time”
I braced myself as I opened the front door and then walked outside and saw it was still snowing.
I reached the end of the path and turned back to look at the Waterfield house where I had spent such a happy childhood.
It was midafternoon and it was already getting dark so I decided to stick to the main road until my eyes became accustomed.
It was years since I had seen a white Christmas, it was a shame I wasn’t in a better frame of mind to enjoy it.
Even in the semi darkness there was clear evidence the village children had been out in force.
There was no sign of them as the light began to fail they were probably lured back indoors with mugs of hot chocolate by their concerned families.
As I made my way up the hill towards St Jane’s church the snow started to fall harder.
I looked at the houses as I passed them with coloured lights resplendent and wondered at what sadness lurked in their homes and then I chastised myself for my self-pity.
It was just that I had had such high hopes for that Christmas, it had held so much promise.

I’d started a new job the previous February, I am an engineer by profession.
And as every other new hire I got the first day office tour, on this occasion conducted by my new boss Gary Ash.
After shaking hands with an indeterminate number of employees I began to understand what the Queen had to contend with.
“This is the procurement department” Gary said and half a dozen heads turned around to greet us and one smartly dressed young woman stepped out of a corner office.
“Ah Gina” Gary called “This is Nick Waterfield the new head of Engineering”
Gina reached out her hand and I took it
“Gina Davies” she said and that was that, she had me hook line and sinker, we had our first date that Friday and we were married just after Easter.
It was a whirlwind romance and we had our whole lives ahead of us and we made plans upon plans.
Of course what we never planned for was a drunk driver to cross the central reservation and hit her head on as she drove home the day before Halloween.
I should have been with her, we always drove home together but at the last minute I had to go to Aberdeen so she died alone.
I wished I’d been in the car with her, I wished I’d died with her then I wouldn’t have felt so shit.

Mistletoe And Miracles (Part Two)

The snow was falling fast and the wind was blowing it straight at me so discretion being the better part of valour, I decided to take refuge in the Church of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal.
I hadn’t set foot in a church since the funeral, God and I had not been on speaking terms since he took Gina.
I didn’t plan to go in I just intended taking shelter in the porch until the snow eased off a bit, but the door suddenly opened.
"What on earth are you doing out here?" said a voice behind me
I turned around to see it was Charli Newcombe.
They had gone to school together and had even dated briefly on two separate occasions.
Once when they were still at school and again when he returned from university.
But it never seemed to happen for them.
“Hey Charli” he said "I was just out for a walk."
“In this?” she said
"So what are you really doing out here?"
“Trivial Pursuits” I replied
“The family are all playing Trivial Pursuits, I didn’t really fancy it”
“I see”
"Anyway it’s Christmas Day” I retorted “Shouldn't you be at home watching The Sound of Music?”
"You’d think so wouldn’t you, My folks are both asleep in front of the TV and I had sole control of the remote, and I suddenly got the notion I should come and get the church ready for tomorrows service” even she seemed surprised by her answer.
Apart from running the general store and post office Charli was also the church warden.
Her late husband Tony had been the Vicar.
Charli was the same age as me give or take a month or two, I was thirty and she was a month short of that milestone.
And like me she was born and bred in the village.
She had married Tony shortly after he got the job as Vicar he was quite a few years older than her but she loved him to distraction, and you can’t argue with love.
She was devastated when he had a heart attack in the church and died.
That was shortly after he had performed the wedding ceremony for Gina and I.
I had seen a lot of her since I came back to stay with my parents in the village.
I suppose I sought her out because of our history together and I knew she would understand how it felt to lose someone.
And maybe help me come to terms with the grief.
We had talked it through endlessly and had burnt the midnight oil many times.
And some of the old feelings I had for her had come to the surface, for which I felt immensely guilty and disloyal to Gina’s memory.
“You look like you could do with a hot drink," she said opening the door
"No I won’t come in thanks" I said
"It’s Christmas, you could call a truce for the sake of the day at least”
"Ok" I relented and hesitantly followed her into the church.
The most overwhelming feeling washed over me.
It was one of great happiness as I remembered that wonderful day when Gina and I were married.
I would have expected to feel sorrow at the memory but it was pure joy I felt and immense pride.
I took off my hat, scarf and gloves and I know it will sound silly but the moment I crossed the threshold into the sanctuary of the church I’d felt a weight lift from me.
Charli had gone into a side room and switched on the light but I found I was walking down the aisle towards the altar where I paused briefly before an effigy of the saint and then sat down on the front pew.

Mistletoe And Miracles (Part Three)

When I got up from the front pew I found all the anger and resentment had washed away I felt more positive than I had in weeks and I felt I could even look forward.
I stood up and smiled at St Jane and went in search of the drink I was offered.
I found Charli in the little kitchen sat at a small table and she looked up at me and smiled and as I walked in I returned her smile.
"Is this mine?" I asked pointing at a mug by the kettle
"Yes" she replied "but I’ll make you a fresh one”
“No this will be fine” I said and took a sip “urgh”
“I told you” Charli said laughing
“How long was I sitting out there?” I asked her
She checked her watch
“About forty minutes”
“I’m sorry” I said “it only seemed like two or three”
“So how do you feel?” she enquired
“Surprisingly good” I replied and sat down “St Jane was very helpful”
“Yes she is isn’t she” Charli said as she re-boiled the kettle
“I’m still angry that I didn’t get to say goodbye to her” I admitted
“I know that feeling” Charli retorted
“We had such a short time together, we should have had decades, and instead we only had months”
And then I surprised myself when I smiled at her and added
“But those months were so special and so filled with joy that the time we had together was priceless”
“Amen to that” Charli said
“Which is precisely what you’ve been telling me all these weeks” I confessed
“Uh huh” she responded and we sat and drank our coffee in a comfortable silence.
Charli’s flicked her eyes upwards and caused me to do the same and I saw the mistletoe hanging above the table then she leant across the table and kissed me.
After the kiss it was me who broke the silence
"So do you have someone special in your life?”
"Do you mean a boyfriend?” she replied
"Yes" I said
"I was kind of hoping you might want the job” Charli said
“I think I would” I said and reached across the table and took hold of her hand.
“If you’ll have me”
She leant across the table and kissed me again this time it was a long lingering sensual kiss.
“Are we allowed to do that in church?” I asked
“Only on Christmas Day” she replied and kissed me again.

She locked up the Church and we stepped out from the shelter of the porch and the snow had abated but it was still falling and I smiled as it accumulated on top of her hat.
I offered her my hand which she accepted gladly and then I walked her home hand in hand through the snow.

Her parents’ house was only two doors down from mine so walking her home wasn’t out of the way not that it would have made any difference if she had lived on the other side of the village.
We stopped by the front gate and stood facing each other and I leant in and kissed her, her response was immediate and yielding.
It was a long purposeful kiss full of tenderness and hope for the future.
When I reluctantly broke away I said
“I’ll see you tomorrow then?”
“Yes” Charli replied and went up the path, pausing at the door to turn and wave before she went inside.

“Are you alright dear?” Mum asked with concern
“Yes” I said and smiled “I rather think I am”
And the effect on her was instant as the worry and anxiety melted away and she looked five years younger in an instant.
“I’m so glad” she said and rushed forward to hug me.

I have to admit I have given a good deal of reflective thought about exactly what happened that snowy Christmas Day afternoon.
Was it coincidence that I chose to walk in the direction of St Jane’s Church, or that I needed to take shelter precisely as I passed its sanctuary, or that Charli would open the door to leave just as I stood sheltering beneath the porch?
And what possessed her to leave the warmth and comfort of her parent’s cozy fireside on Christmas Day to tidy a cold and draughty Church.
I know what I believe and as to what transpired between me and the Saint as I sat on that Church pew is between me, St Jane and God.

Christmas Selection Box # 7


Twas the night before Christmas and all thru the castle
Not a soul was stirring not even the rascal
And when the king returned from merrymaking
No one was awake to let him back in


Mia (Haylie Duff), is the loyal and hard-working manager of her small town's Christmas hat shop, Hats off to Christmas.
She is hoping that after over ten years with the company she is due a promotion when she is called in to see her boss (Jay Brazeau).
However all does not go as she had hoped and instead of a promotion she is asked to train his son, Nick (Antonio Cupo), for the vacant upper-management position.
Nick himself gets a surprise when he finds out that the training is from the bottom up.
And that is the basic premise for this very likeable seasonal romantic comedy.
Good performances by Sean Michael Kyer as Mia's wheelchair bound so as her son Scotty and Melanie Papalia as her friend Ellie add to the overall enjoyment.


Remember, remember the sixth of December
And put your red boots out
Because that is the very special day
When St Nicholas is about


The pudding is in the basin
The cloth is tied in a knot
We put it in the boiling water
And hear it hissing in the pot


Still, Still, Still
Music Traditional and Lyrics by Georg Götsch

Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.

Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come


We stand around the Christmas tree
And sing to the Christmas melodies
We thank the lord for what we are
Standing beneath the Christmas star
To celebrate the Christ child's birth
When he came to us to save the earth


It’s Christmas by golly
Let’s hang up the holly
It’s Christmas by golly
Let’s spend all our lolly
It’s Christmas by golly
It’s the time to be jolly


We are the carol singers
Who sing carols as we go
We sing in any weather
In rain or wind or snow

At every house or cottage
That stands upon the lane
We proudly sing a carol
In snow or wind or rain

We are the carol singers
We never feel chagrined
As we proudly sing together
In snow or rain or wind

We shake the tin for charity
Singing carols as we go
We are the carol singers
In rain or wind or snow


Mary, Did You Know?
Words by Mark Lowry
Music by Buddy Greene
Sung by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy
Would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy
Would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your Baby Boy
Has come to make you new;
This Child that you delivered
Will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy
Will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy
Will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know that your Baby Boy
Has walked where Angels trod?
When you kiss your Little Baby,
You kiss the Face of God!

Oh, Mary, did you know?
Oh, Mary, did you know?

The blind will see, the deaf will hear,
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak
The praises of the lamb!

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy
Is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy
Will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your Baby Boy
Is Heaven's Perfect Lamb?
This sleeping Child you're holding
Is the Great I Am!


Christmas Eve
It’s time for bed
Listen for the sleigh bells
Of the man in red

Cookies and milk
By the fire place
Excitement beams
From each child’s face

Up the stairs
And fast asleep
Close those eyes
You mustn’t peep

Then when you wake
You will see
Sweets and toys galore
To fill you with glee

Monday, 28 November 2016

Christmas Selection Box # 6


Twas the night before Christmas and all thru the cottage
Was silence with the owners at home in Peas Pottage
So under cover of darkness at a very late hour
The cottage was torched by the Sons of Glendower


10-year-old, Jackson Mayhew (Rory Culkin) moves in with his Aunt (Sherilyn Fenn) after the death of his parents.
Aunt Patty works the bar at the Coconut Grotto hotel in Florida and it’s at the Hotel where Jackson befriends an elderly man Sam Clausner (Hum Cronyn) and he begins to suspect that the old man is actually Santa Claus,
The wonderful Hume Cronyn's is brilliant and plays his role with panache and will be remembered as a holiday classic.
His flawless performance was given despite the fact he was almost 90 years old.


With open arms I welcome Christmas
I embrace its merriment and mirth
With open heart I welcome Christmas
To celebrate the Christ Childs birth


Christmas has come around
It’s another Christmas dear
Another special season
So full of Christmas cheer

Just another Christmas?
We had better not forget dear
It’s not just another Christmas
Something’s different this year

What’s special this Christmas?
You’ve surely not forgotten dear
A milestone is to be reached
That’s what’s special about this year

It’s a special Christmas isn’t it?
I see the penny has dropped dear
We must hang up baby's stocking
It’s his first Christmas this year


The first Noel

The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay:
In fields where they lay a keeping their sheep
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Noel Noel Noel Noel
Born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east beyond them far:
And to the earth it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night.
Noel Noel Noel Noel
Born is the King of Israel.

And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from the country far;
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

This star drew nigh to the north-west;
O'er Bethlehem it took it's rest,
And there it did both stop and stay,
Right over the place where Jesus lay.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

Then entered in those wise men three,
Fell reverently upon their knee,
And offered there in his presence
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the kind of Israel.

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
That hath made heaven and earth of nought,
And with his blood mankind has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.


The sleigh is empty
The list is ticked
It’s back to base
Double quick

Mrs. Claus is waiting
To greet me
Fidgeting around
Quite excitedly

The bags are packed
And in the sleigh
We’re off to Florida
For a holiday


Oh sweet little Christingle girl
Your daddy is so very far away
“Bring my daddy safely home”
These are the words you pray

Oh sweet little Christingle girl
Daddy is away at the war
“Bring my daddy safely home
Bring him safely to our door”

Oh sweet little Christingle girl
How she misses daddy far away
How sad she is, he won’t be home
To be with them on Christmas day

At Sunday school she made a Christingle
She took an orange to represent the world.
And to symbolize the blood Christ shed
She took the red ribbon from her curls

Then she decorated four tooth picks
With fruits and sweets and marshmallows
These she placed in the four corners
To represented all the earthly souls

Then finally in the centre of the orange
She stood a single candle of purest white
And when lit, the candle represented
The world filled with Christ’s loving light

The sweet little Christingle girl
Took it home with her that day
And stood it in the window
So daddy would find his way

And the sweet little Christingle girl
With her daddy so very far away
Knew that when he did come home
That would be their Christmas day


Merry Christmas Darling
Written By, Richard Lynn Carpenter / Frank Pooler
Performed by the Carpenters

Greeting cards have all been sent
The Christmas rush is through
But I still have one wish to make
A special one for you
Merry Christmas darling
We're apart that's true
But I can dream and in my dreams
I'm Christmas-ing with you
Holidays are joyful
There's always something new
But every day's a holiday
When I'm near to you
The lights on my tree
I wish you could see
I wish it every day
Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
To see you and to say
That I wish you Merry Christmas
Happy New Year, too
I've just one wish
On this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you
Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
To see you and to say
That I wish you Merry Christmas
Happy New Year, too
I've just one wish
On this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you
I wish I were with you
(Merry, merry, merry Christmas
Merry Christmas - darling)


The Christmas Angel comes each year
To spread around the Christmas cheer
Though the angels seldom appear
They are still there so do not fear
And listening with the keenest ear
You will never ever be able to hear
The Christmas angel standing near
But she will look over those near and dear
As she spreads around the Christmas cheer
Then the heavenly presence we revere
Twill be gone again until next year


Santa Claus really loves his job
He doesn’t do it for the money
But sometimes it’s a struggle
And sometimes it’s not funny
Trying to please the kids today
Is certainly no easy task
Balancing what they deserve
Against what they ask
Sometimes Santa is impatient
With the ungrateful little buggers
And pictures them in the future
As sociopaths, fraudsters or muggers
But Santa Claus really loves his job
And most of the kids are a joy
So he does try to be patient
And see the best in every girl and boy

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Christmas Selection Box # 5


It’s Christmas day in the workhouse
Just another grey day to endure
We are being treated to pot noodle
So Oliver won’t be asking for more


This is very much a case of Groundhog Day meeting Christmas but is an absolute delight.
12 Dates of Christmas is a romantic comedy that follows Kate (Amy Smart) who is forced to relive the same first date on Christmas Eve with Miles (Mark-Paul Gosselaar).
Initially she focuses on trying to win back her ex-boyfriend.
But Kate actually ends up pursuing Miles in an effort to not keep ruining their blind date.
Kate finally sees the light and learns to take risks in her life as there are no consequences when the slate is wiped clean at midnight.
Everything comes good in the end and Kate finds happiness with the handsome guy she's been set up with.


I first met Fiona at a Christmas party
A beautiful woman in a young girl’s body
So more mature than her 17 years
And she chose me that night
Despite a host of more suitable suitors
And we danced into the night
Her firm body pressed against mine
Her intoxicating scent enveloping me
Arms clinging tightly to me
Her breath against my neck
In full view of envious eyes
And later in passionate embrace
Just the two of us in the darkness
As I kissed her goodnight


Christmas cards come from absentees
Bringing so many Christmas wishes
And those you get to see in person
Are greeted with Christmas kisses

It’s the time for friends and family
Exchanging gifts beneath the tree
A time to enjoy every single moment
And make it as magical as it can be


We Wish You a Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;
Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer
We won't go until we get some;
We won't go until we get some;
We won't go until we get some, so bring some out here

We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


December has come round again
Another Christmas time is near.
That time when young and old
Almost explode with festive cheer.


It warms my reminiscent heart
When Christmas preparations start
When the bells of Christmas chime
I am taken back to happy times
With special friends and family
And all the Christmas memories
When Christmas preparations start
It warms my reminiscent heart


December, December
The snow has come
Falling all night long
Kids it’s time to have some fun

December, December
Children playing in the snow
Skating and sledding
Faces all aglow

December, December
More snow will come
Then all through the winter
Kids will have more fun


Peace on Earth
Written in 1982 by Larry Grossman and Buz Kohan
Little Drummer Boy
Written in 1958 by Katherine K. Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone
Performed by Bing Crosby David Bowie

Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
A new-born king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Our finest gifts we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum

Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
A new-born king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Our finest gifts we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
to lay before the king pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum
so to honour him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
when we come

Little baby pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
I stood beside him there pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
I played my drum for him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
I played my best for him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum
And he smiled at me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
me and my drum

Peace on Earth, can it be
Years from now, perhaps we'll see
See the day of glory
See the day, when men of good will
Live in peace, live in peace again

Peace on Earth, can it be
Every child must be made aware
Every child must be made to care
Care enough for his fellow man
To give all the love that he can

I pray my wish will come true
For my child and your child too
He'll see the day of glory
See the day when men of good will
Live in peace, live in peace again

Peace on Earth, can it be
Can it be


If there is one thing
To make the senses tingle
It’s the coming of
The good Kris Kringle

On Christmas Eve
We wait and pray
For good Kris Kringle
To come our way

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Christmas Selection Box # 4


Twas the night before Christmas and Santa was pissed,
He was so drunk in fact he couldn’t read the list
So the toys for the nice kids never left the North Pole
And they all ended up with a big piece of coal


A teenage boy collapses during a high school basketball game after suffering from a heart problem.
As his condition deteriorates it becomes clear that the only thing that will save him is a heart transplant.
After a near fatal set back the family are told that he will die if a doner heart doesn’t become available by Christmas Eve.
The quaint street where the family live have a forty-year old tradition of lining it with Christmas luminaries but the lighting of them is put on hold until they get news of a donor heart.
And when on a stormy Christmas Eve when the heart is being flown through a violent snow storm the luminaries are lit and perform an unexpected purpose.


We sit beside the hearth,
Just Evelyn and I
Logs crackling in the grate
Flames are burning bright

Just the two of us
Alone in the fire side glow
Sitting in cosy comfort
Warm from head to toe

It was a year ago we met
On a very different night
When I first saw her face
In the soft glow of candle light

It was last Christmas Eve
When I first saw her
It was at midnight mass
And she was singing in the choir

She will be singing Carols
Again this Christmas Eve
We will have to stir ourselves
It’s almost time to leave

But before we leave the cosy scene
I have something to ask
But I’m a little bit scared
As I set about my task

This year has been so special
With her sharing my life
That I want Evelyn to marry me
I want her to be my wife

So as we sit beside the hearth,
Just Evelyn and I
Logs crackling in the grate
Flames burning bright

I pray that when I ask her
I get the response I dare not believe
And she will answered yes
And be MY Christmas Eve


Santa comes but once a year
Riding on his sleigh
From his North Pole HQ
With gifts for Christmas day

Santa comes down your chimney.
To fill your Christmas stockings
With nuts, fruit and candy
And all kinds of wonderful things

So remember on Christmas Eve
To be good girls and boys
Or Santa won’t come
To bring you lots of toys


We Three Kings of Orient Are Written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Born a King on Bethlehem's plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav'n replies

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light


She is the object of my desire
Hers is the name I sit and doodle
Oh how I long to kiss those lips
As Sweet as apple strudel
I would give every thing I own
The whole kit and caboodle
To spend one minute in her arms
And share a Christmas canoodle


I’m not looking forward to Christmas
Not since we lost Mum this year
I’m not looking forward to a Christmas
Devoid of any Christmas cheer

Dads doing his best to lift our spirits
All though inside he’s really hurting too
He wants to make it a special time
And do the things like Mum used to do

So we decked the house with garlands
And trimmed the Christmas tree
We hung the Christmas cards on strings
So that everyone could see

Then with all the decorations up
My Dad went round us one by one
To ask us what gift we wanted
And he promised his best would be done

My sister Jules wants new clothes
Kenny wants music of any kind
The twins they want an X-Box
And the baby really doesn’t mind

Then Dad asked me “what do you want son?
What gift would stop you feeling glum”?
I said “I don’t want a present Dad
All I wish for Christmas is my Mum”


You have to wait in line
To see Santa, but that’s fine
It’s worth every minute of queuing
And the anticipation of viewing
Santa Claus with his big belly
Wobbling like a bowl full of jelly
And his fruity chuckle you hear
In the Christmas grotto each year
Then you get to climb onto his lap
And have your special Christmas chat
Then all too soon it’s time to go
And Santa gives you a HO HO HO


A Winter's Tale
Written By Mike Batt, Tim Rice
Performed By David Essex

The nights are colder now
Maybe, I should close the door
And anyway the snow has covered all your footsteps
And I can follow you no more

The fire still burns at night
My memories are warm and clear
But everybody knows it's hard
To be alone at this time of year

It was only a winter's tale
Just another winter's tale
And why should the world take notice
Of one more love that's failed?

A love that could never be
Though it meant a lot to you and me
On a world wide scale we're just another winter's tale

While I stand alone
A bell is ringing far away
I wonder if you hear, I wonder if you're listening
I wonder where you are today

Good luck, I wish you well
For all that wishes may be worth
I hope that love and strength are with you
For the length of your time on earth

It was only a winter's tale
Just another winter's tale
And why should the world take notice
Of one more love that's failed?

It's a love that could never be
Though it meant a lot to you and me
On a world wide scale we're just another winter's tale

It was only a winter's tale
Just another winter's tale
And why should the world take notice
Of one more love that's failed?

It's a love that could never be
Though it meant a lot to you and me
On a world wide scale we're just another winter's tale


Of all the Christmas’s I can remember
My best Christmas’s were the ones
Where I would decorate the tree with dad
And make Christmas cookies with mum
Thread popcorn and make paper chains
Each day opening the advent calendar
Wrapping the gifts in excited secrecy
Writing cards and sending them near and far
They are just distant memories now
But they were still the very best ones
And we must make Christmas memories
Now we have our daughters and our sons

Friday, 25 November 2016

Christmas Selection Box # 3


Twas the night before Christmas and all thru the tent
The creatures were stirring with malicious intent
They wriggled and crawled they chewed and they bit
As they made themselves a festive feast of it


All bowed before the newborn
In that stable forlorn
Shepherds and their beasts
And the magi from the east
The noble men of wealth
Concerned about his heath
Gave gifts of myrrh, frankincense and gold
Gifts his tiny hands could not hold
And at the centre of this scene
Slept the young King serene


Martha Evans (Kristy Swanson) is abandoned by her waste of space husband.
Who before taking his leave emptied the bank account and left her homeless and destitute. Martha leaves town with her stepson and two daughters with no destination in mind in the vague hope of finding work and someone to live.
They end up in a small rural town where she rents a room in the motel and manages to find work in a diner.
But that isn’t the end of her trouble through the warm hearted folk of the town come to her aid.
A nice seasonal tale.


Dashing through the snow
On a one horse open sleigh,
Over fields we go
Laughing all the way
Then the reins do snap,
We weren’t expecting that
Now we laugh no more
As we hit a tree so fat

Oh ambulance bells, ambulance bells
Sirens all the way
They dragged us from the wreck
Of a one horse open sleigh
Oh ambulance bells, ambulance bells
Sirens all the way
Oh, what fun it’s NOT to ride
In a one horse open sleigh


I’m thinking of you
As I sit here feeling blue
I miss you every day
While you are away
But duty called you
And of course I knew
You would have to go
Away to fight the foe
So I’m thinking of you
As I sit here feeling blue
Alone on Christmas day
While you are far away


Good King Wenceslas Written By John Mason Neale and Thomas Helmore

If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither."
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing


The love of Christ
Unconditional, pure
Deeply felt love
That doth endure


My feelings and emotions,
Long since repressed,
Stirred from their slumber
Feelings I thought had long passed
Were awakened like a sleeping giant
Reappearing like long lost friends
Out of the blue and so unexpected
And Carole was the reason
We met by chance
A week or so before Christmas
In a crowded book shop
Amidst the throng of Christmas shoppers
We simultaneously emerged at the checkout
Both clutching a copy of the same book
The dickens classic
“A Christmas Carol”
Spotting each others proposed purchases
We both smiled
And as far as we could see
We were the only people smiling
Surrounded as we were
By a multitude of the disgruntled
I found myself suggesting coffee
And was pleasantly surprised to here her accept
Following that first chance meeting
We quickly became inseparable
We would sit and talk for hours
About everything and nothing
As we’d sit by the cosy fireside
We would share long walks in the country
And afternoons watching old movies
It soon became obvious
We had both found that elusive something
That had been just out of reach
Just over the next hill
We had found our soul mates
Now we share everything
She was the Christmas gift
I had been waiting for all my life
My very own Christmas cracker
My very own Christmas Carole


Saviour’s Day
Written By Chris Eaton
Performed by Cliff Richard

Now we have been through the harvest
Winter has truly begun
Now we have walked in the chill of the night
We are waiting for, waiting for
For the Saviour's Day
Many have come from the valleys
Many have come from the hills
Many have started their journey home
To be with someone, with someone
On the Saviour's Day
Open your eyes on Saviour's Day
Don't look back or turn away
Life can be yours if you'll only stay
He is calling you, calling you
On the Saviour's Day
Joining the old and the young ones
Joining the black and the white
Meeting the need of the hungry is he
Will we ever remember him
On the Saviour's Day
Open your eyes on Saviour's Day
Don't look back or turn away
Life can be yours if you'll only stay
He is calling you, calling you
On the Saviour's Day
Here's to the God of the present
(Raise your glasses)
Here's to the God of the past
(Drink to the King)
Here's to the hope in the future he brings
We will sing to Him, sing to Him
On the Saviour's Day
Open your eyes on Saviour's Day
Don't look back or turn away
Life can be yours if you'll only stay
He is calling you, calling you
On the Saviour's Day
On the Saviour's Day
On the Saviour's Day
He is calling you
On the Saviour's Day
On the Saviour's Day
(Calling, calling, calling you)
On the Saviour's Day
(Calling, calling, calling you)
On the Saviour's Day
(Calling, calling, calling you)
(Calling, calling, calling you)
(Calling, calling)
Raise your glasses drink to the King


The old fat fella
In the big red suit
Of delivering gifts
In his festive pursuit

Wide black belt
And big black boot
The jolly fat bloke
Ruddy and hirsute

He does great good
That’s not in dispute
But he eats too much
So he’s a chubby brute

So when he visits
On his Christmas commute
Don’t leave him a pie
Leave him some fruit

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Christmas Selection Box # 2


Give me a kiss for Christmas
For my love for you is strong
Give me a kiss for Christmas
I’ve been waiting oh so long

Give me a kiss for Christmas
On this special holy night
Give me a kiss for Christmas
Let me fill you with delight

Give me a kiss for Christmas
That is my only Christmas wish
I promise it will be much more
Than just another Christmas kiss


Mark Webber and Marla Sokoloff star in this modern take on the classic tale the Gift of the Magi.
Newlyweds Jim and Della Young move into to their new apartment, that they can barely afford and despite having to make do with second hand furnishings they are happy.
However after Della’s car is stolen they have to use up all their saving to buy another one.
As a result they agree not to buy Christmas presents that year.
Secretly however they both decide to do so anyway.


The window sill is piled with snow
The ingle nook is all aglow
We’ve cleaned and swept the floor
The wreath is hanging on the door
The lights are lit, the halls are decked
The list of tasks has all been checked
Now we’re filled with Christmas cheer
Let’s have a drink of Christmas beer
Then ring the bell and bang the drum
Rejoice, rejoice Christmas has come


I got a book for Christmas
“101 sexual positions”
I got it from my brother
My wife also received a book
“102 handy excuses”
A present from her mother


Despite the general awfulness of the Christmas song there are however always exceptions to the rule and I have a short list of personal favourites
Without exception all my choices not only include the song but the best performer of that song and so in no particular order here is my twenty second selection.

Step Into Christmas
Written by Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Performed By The Puppini Sisters

Welcome to my Christmas song
I'd like to thank you for the years
So I'm sending you this Christmas card
To say it's very nice to have you here
I'd like to sing about all the things
Your eyes and mind can see
So hop aboard the turntable
You gotta hop aboard the turntable
You gotta hop aboard the turntable
You gotta oh, oh, oh, oh
Step into Christmas with me

Step into Christmas, let's do it together
We can watch the snow fall forever and ever
Eat, drink and be merry
Come, come along with me
Step into Christmas, the admission is free
Take care in all you do next year
And keep smiling through the days
If we can help to entertain you
Oh, we will find the ways
So merry Christmas one and all
There's no place I'd rather be
Than asking you if you'd oblige
Than asking, asking you if you'd oblige
Than asking, asking you if you'd oblige
You'll have a oh, oh, oh, oh
Stepping into Christmas with me

Step into Christmas, let's do it together
We can watch the snow fall forever and ever
Eat, drink and be merry
Come, come along with me
Step into Christmas, the admission is free
Welcome to my Christmas song
I'd like to thank you for the year
So I'm sending you this Christmas card
To say it's very nice to have you here
I'd like to sing about all the things
Your eyes and mind can see
So hop aboard the turntable
You gotta hop aboard the turntable
You gotta hop aboard the turntable
You gotta oh, oh, oh, oh
Step into Christmas with me

Step into Christmas, let's do it together
We can watch the snow fall forever and ever
Eat, drink and be merry
Come, come along with me
Step into Christmas, the admission is free
Step into Christmas, let's do it together
We can watch the snow fall forever and ever
Eat, drink and be merry
Come, come along with me
Step into Christmas, the admission is free
Step into Christmas, let's do it together
Step into Christmas
You gotta step right up, gotta step right in
Step into Christmas with me


It’s Christmas day in the workhouse
Just another grey day to endure
We have been promised nouvelle cuisine
So Oliver will be asking for more


I wrote a letter to Santa
Making my request
I told him what I wanted
Stating what was best

I didn’t ask for jewels
I didn’t ask for jewellery
I didn’t ask for gold
I didn’t ask for luxuries

I asked him for a gift
I consider the greatest prise
I asked him for the look of love
To be present in your eyes

I asked him for your heart
So to make me live
I asked him for your love
But they’re not his give

I wrote a letter to Santa
Making my request
I told him that I love you
I’m sure he’ll do what’s best


“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know”
But if I should run out of the white
I will gladly drink the red though


God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's powers
When we were gone astray
Glad tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
Glad tidings of comfort and joy

In Bethlehem, in Israel,
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
The which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born

The Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

"Fear not then," said the Angel,
"Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan's power and might."
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy


All of the reindeer
Pulling Santa’s sleigh
Are adorned with antlers
As they make their way

Well, only female reindeer
On the Christmas flight
Still retain their antlers
By Christmas night

So the whole team are girls
Is that really shocking?
An all-female team?
Carrying gifts for every stocking

Who else could be trusted?
To circumnavigate the globe
In only one night
Not the guy in the red robe

But the overweight old man
With no dress sense
Who is too lazy to shave
Gets thanked for the presents

And do we get any recognition
For delivering the toys
No we don’t get a mention
And everyone thinks that we are boys

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Christmas Selection Box # 1


It’s Christmas day in the workhouse
Just another grey day to endure
If we’re lucky we’ll dine on mouse
And Oliver will still be asking for more


I wrapped the presents from me to you,
Only a few more things now left to do
I must hang up the bunch of mistletoe
Pour the wine and turn the lights down low
And when we cuddle up together on the seat
My Christmas really will be complete


Jason Gedrick, Erica Cerra, Richard Harmon, Amitai Marmorstein and Emmalyn Estrada star in this festive tale that centres around the towns Wishing Tree.
The story revolves around the local private school, its teachers, its pupils and their lives.
This movie delivers just what you want in a Christmas tale.


Dear Santa Claus
I have been good
I thought I’d mention that
So it’s understood

I don’t want
Something practical
Something useful
Nor educational

I don’t what
Something creative
Something arty
Or constructive

I don’t want
Something sporty
Something healthy
Not outdoorsy

What I want
Is an X-Box or a PS3
So I can escape
My boring reality

But I don’t want
You to bring me a Wii
It’s just too healthy
And drains my energy


Putting up the decorations
And trimming the Christmas tree
Writing all the cards
This year from you and me

Your presents are wrapped
Only bows and tags to do
Until this moment I didn’t know
Just how much I loved you

So I will have a happy Christmas
With the love of my life
The very first Christmas
Since we became man and wife


Despite the general awfulness of the Christmas song there are however always exceptions to the rule and I have a short list of personal favourites
Without exception all my choices not only include the song but the best performer of that song and so in no particular order here is my twenty third selection.

Zat You, Santa Claus?
Written By Jack Fox
Performed By Louis Armstrong

Zat You, Santa Claus?
Gifts I'm preparing for some Christmas sharing,
But I pause because,
Hanging my stocking I can hear a knocking.
Zat you, Santa Claus?
Sure is dark out, ain't the slightest spark out.
Pon my slackened jaw!
Who's there? Who is it stopping for a visit?
Zat you, Santa Claus?
Are you bringing a present for me,
Something pleasantly pleasant for me?
Then it's just what I've been waiting for.
Would you mind slipping it under the door?
Cold winds are howling, or could that be growling?
My legs feel like straws.
My my oh me my, kindly would you reply?
Zat you, Santa Claus?
Hanging the stocking, I can hear a knocking.
Zat you, Santa Claus?
I say, who's there, who is it? Are you stopping for a visit?
Zat you, Santa Claus?
Oh there, Santa, you gave me a scare.
Now stop teasing cause I know you're there.
We don't believe in no goblins today,
But I can't explain why I'm shaking that way.
Bet I can see ole Santa in the keyhole.
I'll get to the cause.
One peek and I'll try there; oh oh, there's an eye there!
Zat you, Santa Claus?
Please, please, pity my knees!
Say that's you, Santa Claus!


The good husband and his wife
Are happy partners in their life
Content in each other’s company
They live their life quite humbly

Yet come the time of advent
All time and effort is then spent
In the seasonal preparations
Of the coming celebrations

Where the good couple dwelt
Festive odours could be smelt
As special victuals quietly matured
As they cooked and baked and cured

This went on till advent passed
And they had cooked their last
Then the boxes were well packed
To ensure that no one lacked

The boxes were then sent on their way
To be delivered for Christmas day
To the poor and needy of the town
To those that society had let down

But not all was sent on its way
There was plenty kept for Christmas day
When friends and neighbour’s all
Were invited to the little church hall

Where on that Christmas day
Their bounty was on display
Biscuits, bread and well filled pies
Cakes and sweets of varying size

Roasted meats, fowl and game
Fruits and nuts of every name
And a good time was had by all
At the happy feast at the church hall

The good husband and his wife
The happy partners in each other’s life
Content in each other’s company
Sat in the corner quite humbly

Spectators at the feast of their making
Quietly satisfied with their undertaking
Content with their preparations
And happy with the Christmas celebrations


Twas the night before Christmas, and all through Bethlehem,
Joseph was searching for a room for them
He searched and he searched all-round the town
But nowhere to stay for them could be found
So they went to a stable and in a bed made of hay
The Christ child was born on the first Christmas Day


Ave Maria

Ave Maria, gratia plena.
Maria, gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Ave, ave dominus,
Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
Et benedictus
Et benedictus fructus ventris,
Ventris tui, Jesus.
Ave Maria.

(Some versions add the following)

Ave Maria, Mater Dei,
Ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
Ora, ora pro nobis;
Ora, ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
Nunc et in hora mortis,
In hora mortis nostrae.
In hora, hora mortis nostrae,
In hora mortis nostrae.
Ave Maria


Jimmy got an iPod
Sally got an iPhone
Dad got an iPad
Mum got an iRon
Happy Christmas? iThink not

The Girl Who Never Slept

Part One)

I first met Olwen Carmichael on a grey murky day in October when I had been into the village of Upper Oakham to buy some essentials, milk and bread etc.
It had been sunny and bright when I left Honeysuckle Cottage that morning so I decided to walk the two miles into the village and took one of the many paths through the woods.
However by the time I was leaving the village store with my essential purchases it was raining, and it was that fine drizzly rain that soaked you in an instant and from a distance it gave the illusion of being a mist.
In fact due to its inherent ability to obscure landmarks it was to all intents and purposes a mist.

My name is John Gallen and I’m a writer although no one in the Oakham’s would have heard of me, but under my nom de plume of Neil K Fitzgerald you would be hard pressed to find anyone who hadn’t.
For under that name I had written a series of successful thrillers, six in all and a seventh was now well over due.
I was recently divorced, though not my choice but my darling wife had cheated on me, with my best friend to boot so it couldn’t be avoided.
But since the divorce I had struggled with the latest book in the series, it didn’t even have a title yet and I was fast approaching a crucial deadline.
I decided the best thing to do was to get away, right away where no one knew me and where there were no distractions.
So I rented a house in the country, a holiday cottage in fact almost two miles from the nearest neighbour.
As it was out of season I managed to book it from October to March though I only planned to stay until I completed the book which I thought I would manage in a month, away from all the everyday distractions of a town.
So that was why I found myself living in the nauseatingly named Honeysuckle Cottage.
Which was as the name might suggest a pretty little cottage.
It would have originally have been a two up two down but it now had a single story extension which housed the kitchen
Upstairs was a small bedroom and the bathroom which was equipped with a good old fashioned man sized bath. While downstairs in addition to the kitchen there was a sitting room and another bedroom.

Well I had been walking back towards the cottage with my head down to protect my face from the slanting rain and making slow progress on the woodland path in my unsuitable shoes.
When I eventually lifted my head up I didn’t recognise a single tree and was completely disorientated and as I wasn’t that familiar with the woods I didn’t recognise anything.
As the rain continued to fall I was starting to panic when a voice behind me said
“Are you alright?”
I turned around and saw a little creature of indeterminate age in a parka with a fur trimmed hood.
“I am embarrassed to say it but I appear to be lost” I said
The figure stepped forward and pushed the hood back from her face to reveal a young woman in her mid-twenties no more than five foot tall.
“You’re lost?” she asked in disbelief and smiled broadly
“Yes” I said even more embarrassed
“Where were you going?” She asked
“Honeysuckle Cottage” I replied
“Oh you’re the writer” she said
“Yes” I said “John Gallen”
“I’m Olwen Carmichael, and we’re neighbours”
“Are we?” I asked
“Yes” She replied “I live in Cherry Tree House, just along the lane from you”
“Well I am pleased to meet you Olwen” I said
“Come on I’m going your way” She said and she walked with me all the way to the cottage, she wasn’t the chattiest person I had ever met but I rather liked her.
“Here you are, safe home” she said smiling.
“Thank you for rescuing me and for walking me home” I said “come in for a coffee”
“I can’t I have to be somewhere” she replied
“Another time perhaps” I suggested
“Yes” she replied and hurried off.

A few days later I had to drive into Northchapel to do a more substantial shop to stock the cupboards.
I had exhausted the meagre supplies I brought with me when I moved in plus I need some more appropriate footwear for the country.
Instead of going in the direction of Upper Oakham I drove the opposite way down the lane which would take me to Lower Oakham and I drove past Cherry Tree House where my nearest neighbour lived.
It was roughly two miles from my cottage and despite being called a house it was also a cottage though it was much bigger than mine.
I drove slowly as I passed it and I was surprised to find myself disappointed that there was no sign of life.
Beyond that were another three houses before the lane reached the Northchapel road, one of which was the home of my landlady, or at least the woman I was renting the Cottage from, Sandra Brown, who right on cue came out of her front door and waved.
I slowed down and waved back and I was about to drive on when she flagged me down.
“How are you settling in?” Sandra said
“Fine” I replied “I’m just going into Northchapel to stock up on groceries”
“I won’t keep you then, but Pop in for tea on the way back” she said

(Part Two)

With a boot full of Tesco’s finest tinned and dried goods I returned to Upper Oakham and didn’t really feel like stopping for tea with Mrs Brown but she had invited me and I thought it would have been rude not to, so I pulled up outside The Villa.
As we sat in her lounge drinking from her best China I related the story of my getting lost in the woods and being rescued by a young woman called Olwen.
“Oh she’s my niece” Sandra said with a mixture of pride and a little sadness “I worry about her”
“She seemed very sound when I met her” I said
“Oh she is but the poor girl is an insomniac, she hasn’t slept properly for four years or so” she said “She only ever cat naps”
“Why is that?” I asked
She was thoughtful for a moment and then she said
“More tea?”
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to pry” I said
“It’s ok Mr Gallen” she said “It just makes me sad”
“I understand but please call me John”
She nodded and went all thoughtful again before she said
“Olwen always had a small problem with sleeping after her grandmother died in her sleep when she was 12, but she seemed to grow out of that in time” She paused to take a sip of her tea.
“Then when she was at university her best friend Gina suffered an embolism and died one night.
Olwen was absolutely devastated but I think she would have come out the other side had it not been for the Kirby’s”
“The Kirby’s?” I asked
“Yes they were a family from the village who died in a house fire.
It happened in the early hours as they slept, five of them, it was so tragic.
Olwen knew the family very well and she had even baby sat the children.
It was the final straw for her and ever since that night Olwen has had a morbid fear of sleeping”

As I arrived home, or at least my temporary home I reflected on how candid Sandra had been, after all she could just have said she suffered from insomnia and left it at that.
I suppose not being honest might have failed to explain her irregular hours and her habit of walking the woods at all hours of the day and night.
I could relate to that in some ways as I was prone to keeping irregular hours myself.
But I was pleased Sandra had told me everything as a writer I was naturally nosy but there was something about Olwen that struck a chord with me.

I continued to see Olwen walking the lane or one of the many woodland paths though she never stopped to talk but she did occasionally wave.
I did wonder what on earth she did with herself.
There must be more to her life than walking the woods.
One day towards the end of October I was in the Upper village on a milk and bread run when I bumped into Sandra again.
“John” she said “how’s the book?”
“Hello Sandra, slowly I’m afraid”
“Well I won’t keep you from it then” she said and laughed
“Don’t worry I need to rest my brain for a bit” I replied “in fact why don’t you pop in later and I will return your hospitality, I have cake”
“Well in that case I would love to”

On the way back to the cottage I wasn’t sure if I had given Sandra the wrong impression and my invite might have been misconstrued.
She was an attractive woman some ten years my senior but nonetheless attractive. And a ten year age gap wasn’t unheard of after all.
There was a knock at the door about 3 o’clock that afternoon and when I opened the door I saw it was Sandra in a grubby Berber jacket, dirty wellies and mud spattered jeans which put my mind at rest.
She was hardly in the mode of dress for a woman who thought she had been invited for a tryst.
“Is it alright if I leave the dog in the porch?” she asked as she slipped off her wellies.
“Bring him in” I said
“Are you sure?” she asked “there is nothing worse than the smell of wet dog”
“Nonsense bring him in” I said
“Come on Skipper” she called
Skipper was an American Cocker Spaniel, very wet, very muddy and very friendly.
He paused briefly for a stroke and then went straight to the hearth.
I made the tea and took it into the sitting room.
“No china cups I’m afraid” I said
“That’s good I prefer a mug” she responded
I gave her a look because she had served tea to me on her best china.
“I know” she replied to my unasked question “I blame my mother”
We both laughed, my mother was like that as well.
As we drank our tea I found myself quizzing her about Olwen again.
The nosy writer again I supposed,
“I see her in the woods or on the Lane a lot” I said
“Yes she has a lot of time on her hands” Sandra replied
“She can’t hold down a job because she doesn’t sleep regularly but she is prone to nodding off from time to time”
It seemed that financially she was set, her house was hers out right and she had an annuity from her parent’s estate which was enough for her to live on,
She led a very modest existence.
“So what does she do to fill her days?” I asked
“She’s an avid reader” she replied “She’s reading all of yours at the moment”
“Really?” I said
“Olwen is also a bit of a movie buff especially classics” Sandra said “and of course she likes to walk”
I nodded
“It’s silly isn’t it that she feels safer walking the woods in the middle of the night that she does in her bed”
“It is” I agreed
“She doesn’t eat properly either” she added with a lump in her throat and I thought how wonderful it was to have someone care about you that much.

(Part Three)

It was Halloween and that time of the day when in my home town there would be a constant stream of expectant children knocking on the door.
Due to the remoteness of the cottage and the foulest weather I had seen for many a day, so I wasn’t expecting even one.
So imagine my surprise when there was indeed a knock at my door.
I opened the door and the sight that greeted me was as fearful a sight as you could imagine on any Halloween night.
It was a drowned rat, caked in mud, and looking very sorry for itself.
“Hello Olwen” I said “what on earth are you doing out in this?”
“It wasn’t this bad when I started” she replied
She looked like she had been on manoeuvres with the SAS.
“Come in, come in” I said “what happened?”
“Don’t laugh” she said “but I fell in a ditch”
“My God you are actually squelching” I said “get your coat and boots off”
I left her and went to get a towel when I came back she was walking towards the warmth of the fire and she was still squelching.
She stood in front of the fire in her squelchy socks and shivered.
I went upstairs and started the bath running and put fresh towels on the rail and went downstairs again.
“Right you need to get out of those wet things” I said in a fatherly tone
“I’ll be fine I just need to warm up a bit” she said
“Well you won’t warm up if you’re wearing wet clothes” I said “so do as you’re told, the bath is running”
Olwen tried to protest but I wouldn’t let her
“Throw your wet things on to the landing and I’ll put a change of clothes in the spare room for you”
“Ok Mr Gallen” she said like she was addressing a teacher.
I went downstairs again and turned my attention to my dinner.
I tended to only cook from scratch once a week but I always made more than I needed and the extra would be frozen and ready to use whenever.
On that particular day I was cooking lamb stew.
I gave it a stir and went to the airing cupboard in the spare room and looked for something that would be suitable for Olwen.
It wasn’t easy choosing from a selection of clothes made for a six foot tall fifteen stone man and find something that would do for a tiny girl barely 5 foot tall and less than seven stone soaking wet.
The only thing I could find was a rugby shirt that was a bit long even on me so it would be like a dress on her and a pair of football sock that would reach her thighs.
I lay them on the bed and picked up the pile of wet clothes and carried them down stairs with me.
Once downstairs I set up the clothes drier in front of the fire and draped her things over it and almost immediately steam started to emanate from her socks.
Her boots were already on the hearth and her coat was draped over the back of a chair.
About half an hour later Olwen appeared in her oversized Harlequins Rugby shirt and black football socks fiddling with her tousled damp hair.
“Do you feel better now?” I asked
“Much better thank you” she replied
“I’m sorry about the wardrobe” I added “it was the best I could do”
“Its fine at least I won’t get cold” she said and laughed
“Well sit yourself down and I’ll get you some food”
“No don’t worry I’m really not hungry” she said
I gave her a look
“Ok I’ll have a little bit” she said
“A wise decision” I said and went out to the kitchen.
I returned a few minutes later with a steaming bowl on a tray.
“Lamb stew” I said
I thought back to the conversation I had with Sandra about Olwen not eating properly and Olwen’s own statement not half an hour previously when she said
“I’m really not hungry”
Well for someone who wasn’t really hungry she did extremely well to polish off three bowls of Lamb stew.
While we ate we watched an old Cary Grant movie called “Holiday” and when it was finished she said
“Well thank you for looking after me and entertaining me but I’d better Change my clothes and get home”
Said Olwen
I got up and went to the front door and when I opened it the rain was still coming down like stair rods.
“Just put your coat and boots on and I’ll run you home” I said
“No you’ve been too kind already” she replied
“I’m not having you getting soaked to the skin again” I insisted
“You’re very bossy” she said with a smile
“I know” I said “That’s probably why I’m divorced”
I drove her the two miles up the lane to her cottage and she thanked me again and got out but before she closed the door she said
“Don’t get lost on your way home”
Then she laughed like it was the funniest thing she’d ever heard in her life.

It was a day later when Olwen “popped in” for the first time and for the first of many times over the coming weeks we shared a conversation and a drink of coffee across the kitchen table.
The “pop ins” happened at any time of the day or night partly because of her insomnia and in part because I was a writer and kept irregular hours myself.
Sometimes when the muse was with me I would just carry on writing until I couldn’t see straight, so I had no set time to go to bed or to get up in the morning.
According to my ex-wife it was one of the things that contributed to the breakup of our marriage.

As we moved slowly through November the “pop ins” increased exponentially as we raced headlong towards December and I was disappointed on the days when I didn’t see her.

(Part Four)

Once we got into December I was no longer disappointed as I saw her every day.
It began on the 1st of the month when she helped me to put up the Christmas decorations and as we were hanging the last of the garlands she said
“I love Christmas decorations”
“Me too” I said “I’ll help you put yours up when we’re done here”
“No thanks” Olwen replied
“Why not?” I asked
“I never put decorations up at home” she said
“Why not?”
“I don’t know really” she mused “it makes me sad I suppose, it reminds me of a happier time and I suppose that makes me sad”
“But you love decorations?” I said
“You love these decorations?” I asked
“Do they make you sad? I asked
“Why not?”
“Because I wasn’t a child in this cottage” she replied
“That’s nuts” I said
“I know” Olwen said “what can I say”

Anyway Olwen came to the cottage every day to enjoy the decorations, watch classic Christmas movies and eat my stew.
But we had kept most of her visits during normal hours until Christmas Eve.
I was burning the midnight oil because I was stuck on a tricky chapter the first of three chapters which needed to be submitted to my publishers by New Year’s Day.
It was partly Olwen’s fault I had gotten behind but she was such a pleasant distraction.
But to be perfectly honest she had become more of a distraction when she wasn’t there.

So it was just after eleven o’clock on Christmas Eve and rewriting the same section for the umpteenth time when Olwen knocked on the door.
I could tell it was her before I opened the door by her unique knock.
“Hey” I said
“Do you mind me popping in on Christmas Eve, I don’t want to upset your artistic flow” she said
“No flow to interrupt at the moment I’m afraid, this chapter is giving me a lot of trouble” I replied
“What is it, writers block?” Olwen asked
“No I’m not blocked, I’m writing ok, it’s just not very good” I said and laughed
“I could use a break” I lied

We sat on the sofa watching an old movie on cable, we chose it because of the title, “the Dream of Olwen”.
About half an hour into it she yawned and rested her head on my shoulder
I assumed it must me one of her infamous cat naps.
Half an hour later she was still sleeping.
I could tell by her breathing, even though I couldn’t see her, that she was properly asleep.
So I placed a cushion on my lap and gently lowered her head onto it.
Her legs were already on the sofa as she had been sitting in that side saddle fashion that girls have.
So I dragged the edge of the throw from the back of the sofa and draped it over her slender body.
I watched the end of the movie and then switched off the TV.
Olwen was still sleeping so I reached for the A4 note pad I kept on the end table and resting it on the arm of the sofa I began writing and the words flowed from my pen like an inexhaustible stream and after three hours of furious writing I had put the troublesome chapter to bed.
I looked firstly at the sleeping girl with her head on my lap and saw she was still sleeping soundly and then up at the clock which told me it was 6.45am,
Not that the time was relevant but I desperately needed to pee.
I slowly extricated myself, being careful not to wake Olwen and settle her onto the sofa and then tucked the throw around her.
As soon as I was up I realised the temperature had dropped so before I went to the loo I revived the fire in the grate and put some more wood on.
I then partly closed the door, I didn’t want her to wake up in a strange place and panic.
After having a much needed pee I went into the kitchen to make a drink
Which was when there was a knock at the door

(Part Five)

I couldn’t imagine who would be knocking on the door at 7 am on Christmas morning.
I opened the door to find Olwen’s aunt, Sandra standing there.
“Happy Christmas Sandra” I said
“Happy Christmas John” Sandra said but without any real conviction.
“Have you seen Olwen?” she asked “I saw her coming this way last night when I was walking the dog”
“I went to the cottage to wish her happy Christmas and there’s no sign of her and her bed hasn’t been disturbed” she continued pacing the small hall way.
“All the lights are still on but there’s no sign of her and I’m really worried”
“Shhh” I said putting a finger to my lips “Come here Sandra, she’s asleep in the lounge”
She crept to the door and had a glance through gap into the sitting room.
“How long?” she asked
“Over six hours” I replied
“She obviously feels safe with you” Sandra said
“I won’t wake her” I said
“I’m sorry you have been disturbed like this” she added
“Nonsense, I enjoy having a beautiful girl for company at Christmas”
“You think she’s beautiful?” she asked
“Of course, doesn’t everybody?” I asked
Sandra smiled at me and kissed my cheek “happy Christmas John” she said
“Christmas Dinner is at 3 o’clock”

After Sandra had left I finished my drink and the lack of sleep suddenly caught up with me and I knew I had to sleep.
I didn’t want to leave Olwen to wake up on her own but I was too tired to sleep in an armchair.
I thought for a moment and then went into the bedroom and got out the spare duvet before returning to the lounge.
I carefully drew back the throw from around her small frail frame and then picked her up.
“Hmmm” she murmured as I held her, then I carefully carried the beautiful featherweight little creature into the bedroom.
I laid her on top of the duvet and covered her with the spare.
I then went out and turned off the lights and locked the front door before returning to the bedroom and gently slipping between the duvets to lay down beside Olwen.
“Hmmm” she murmured as she snuggled in against me, so I put my arm around her and drifted off into a contented sleep.

It was remarkable how life can surprise you, when I rented Honeysuckle Cottage it was only ever intended as a short let.
But I knew when I woke up in bed next to a smiling Olwen on Christmas morning I knew I would never leave the village.
The book was well under way now and I could easily have moved back to civilization.
But while I had struggled with a particularly troublesome chapter she had become my muse and my love.

And for Olwen who had for so long held the world at arm’s length and avoided forming emotional attachments of any kind for fear they might lead to her heart being broken again.
Never imagined the course events would take after she rescued the panicky man lost in the woods.
She certainly never imagined she would wake up in his bed three months later or that she would have fallen in love with him.

When we woke up we just lay beneath the cosy comforting warmth of the duvet and talked for an hour, all the unsaid things we had wanted to say in the weeks preceding Christmas when we had lost our hearts.
Before we reluctantly agreed that we needed to move as we couldn’t disappoint Aunt Sandra.
I got up first and showered shaved and dressed then Olwen showered while I warmed up the car.
When she had redressed I drove her to her house where she finished getting ready and I waited in the house.
It was the first time I had been in there and it had an almost museum feel to it, no wonder she was always wandering.
Then we left the car outside Olwen’s house and prepared to walk the hundred yards or so to Aunt Sandra’s when it began to snow.
“This is the best Christmas ever” she said and took hold of my hand
“It’s a perfect Christmas” I concurred and kissed her

The moment we walked in through the front door of the Villa I realised the wisdom of leaving the car at Olwen’s because I would not be using it anymore that day as Uncle Norman thrust a cocktail of gargantuan proportions and indeterminate strength into my hand and I had no reason to suppose it wasn’t to be the first of many.
Oh I almost forgot I finally decided on the title for the latest book.
“The Girl Who Never Slept”

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Stocking Stuffers # 8


The advent candle is lit again
The Christmas cards are writ again
Beneath the tree gifts sit again
We’ve overspent a bit again

The Christmas table is set again
Our loved ones are met again
We drink a toast of wet again
And say merry Christmas yet again


Twas the night before Christmas and all thru the abode
Came the rancid smell like an un-emptied commode
It made your eyes water to be perfectly crude
Wow this baby needs to start eating solid food


Jack (Andrew McCarthy) is an executive in a financial brokerage firm and seems to have it all.
He is a rising star in line for a big promotion and has already impressed the boss, Drew Clayton (Chris Gillett), He is also dating the boss’s daughter the beautiful and elegant Demi Clayton (Stephanie Mills).
Jack plans to propose to Demi at her father's lavish annual Christmas Dance but in order to create the perfect impression on the night he signs up for ballroom dance lessons.
Which is when he meets dance instructor, Christine (Michelle Nolden), and the story really begins.


Santa Claus is depressed
Its declining standards you see
The naughty list is now so long
It needs storing electronically
Where as the good list has shrunk
And now fits on a sheet of A3


"A Nocturnal upon St Lucy's Day” was written by John Donne who lived between 1572 and 1631.


All I want for Christmas
Is the special girl I love
All I want for Christmas
Is my angel from above

She need not be wrapped
And tied up with a bow
I’ll take her as she is
Smiling face aglow

Any other Christmas gift
Is valueless to me
I just want my angel
Beneath the Christmas tree

So on Christmas day
As we stand beside the tree
I will take her in my arms
And kiss her tenderly


In Scandinavia the Christmas celebrations begin on St. Lucia Day when each town and village crowns a Lucia on the first Sunday of Advent.
Apart from the religious duties the crowned Lucia must visit hospitals, community centers and nursing homes before Christmas.


Under the rich December sky
Breath plumed in the frost filled air
The winter sky sparkled with stars
Like diamonds stitched to the curtain of night
The moon was almost full
And from that December moon
The lunar light bathed the landscape
So that light sparkled on the ice crystals
Creating a myriad of twinkling stars
To mimic their celestial cousins


Despite the general awfulness of the Christmas song there are however always exceptions to the rule and I have a short list of personal favourites
Without exception all my choices not only include the song but the best performer of that song and so in no particular order here is my twenty fourth selection.

Mary's Boy Child
Written by Jester Hairston
Harry Belafonte

Long time ago in Bethlehem,
So the Holy Bible say,
Mary's boy child, Jesus Christ,
Was born on Christmas day,
Hark, now hear the angels sing,
A new-born King today,
And man will live forevermore,
Because of Christmas day.
Trumpets sound and angels sing,
Listen to what they say,
That Man will live forevermore,
Because of Christmas day.

(verse 1)
While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
They saw a bright new shining star,
They heard a choir sing,
The music seemed to come from afar,

(verse 2)
Now, Joseph and his wife, Mary,
Come to Bethlehem that night,
They found no place to bear her child,
Not a single room was in sight.

(verse 3)
By and by, they find a little nook,
In a stable all forlorn,
And in a manger cold and dark,
Mary's little Boy was born!


An earthquake measuring 7.6 struck Gansu in China killing
70,000 people.


On St. Lucy's Day any activity involving turning motions are forbidden, including spinning, stirring, and working a grindstone as these circular motions might interfere with the return of the sun.


Christmas day is almost here
The time of year
I hold so dear

When to tradition we must adhere
When to every ear
We are sincere

A time of goodwill and cheer
A time to care
A time to share

Christmas is when we banish fear
Keep close those near
And those dear

Christmas day is almost here
The time of year
When we revere


Before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar St. Lucia's Day fell on the winter solstice.


When winter comes
And the first snowflakes fall
Who is the first one in my thoughts?
Who is the first person I call

When winter comes
And there is a fresh fall of snow
Who makes snow angels with you?
Is it that you’re the best angel maker I know?

When winter comes
And there’s fresh snow on the ground
Who builds the snowman with you?
Is it that you make the best snowmen around?

When winter comes
And we spend all of our time together
Have you ever wondered why?
Do you think that I just like the snowy weather?

When winter comes
There is a reason why every winter I call you
It’s the same reason I’ve had since we were seven
I’ve wanted to tell you but have been to scared to

When winter comes
The reason I pull off your wet gloves?
And the reason I gently warm your cold hands?
Is that you’re the one I love


Angels We Have Heard On High

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heav’nly song?
Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the new-born King.
See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.


I have a new love in my life
That all Christmas I’ll be pleas’n
I will bring Joy to her world
When I go south for the season


There’s no better time than Christmas
I’ve always believed it to be so
When we remember Christ the saviour
Born two thousand years ago

There’s no better time than Christmas
When we celebrate his birth
In the sanctuary of a candlelit church
We rejoice for all we’re worth

There’s no better time than Christmas
To look beneath ageing skin
Of any of the old souls in the season
And still find a child within

There’s no better time than Christmas
I’ve always believed it to be so
When we remember Christ the saviour
Born two thousand years ago


Just after midnight on Christmas morning the unofficial "Christmas Truce" began, German troops ceased firing their guns and artillery and then started singing Christmas carols. Later in the day men from both sides left their trenches and met in No man's land where they traded gifts with the enemy. The truce lasted for three days.


The Jingle of sleigh bells, herald
His coming on Christmas Eve
When Santa Claus takes the time
To fill our stocking and I believe
That Santa Claus thinks sincerely
It’s better to give than to receive


Hirohito becomes Emperor of Japan, succeeding the Taisho Emperor.


On the oak and iron studded door
There hung a wreath of yuletide
That was so pleasing to the eye
It seemed to welcome you inside

The hallway was lit with candles
Of every shape, size and hue
And tasteful Christmas decorations
Seemed to be constantly in view

Down the entire length of the stairs
Entwining the polished mahogany
Garlands of holly and evergreen
Filled the scene most sumptuously

The drawing room was minimalist
Each decoration chosen with care
The focal point was the mantelpiece
And the little stocking hanging there

In the corner stood a mighty tree
Festively decked in all its glory
But their was more to the gathering
Than just the Christmas story

Every face bore a relaxed smile
Such was the festive atmosphere
And so proud was the hostess
But not just for the festive cheer

For this was the first Christmas
For their newborn son and heir
And so proud was the mother
Of her newborn son so fair