Friday, 22 December 2017


OK, 2017, thank you for giving me a new grandchild-in-waiting, a new FIFTEEN THINGS book - 15 Things Not to Do With a Puppy - delightfully illustrated by Holly Sterling, who is very good at drawing puppies. Speaking of puppies, welcome to Tide who lives with The Sunshines and is an absolute star. Thank you for all the times we've seen our little Welsh chap. Thank you for Greenbelt 2017, friends, family, learning something new, and going with The Golden Child and her mum to see The Royal Ballet dance The Nutcracker. We all came out of that feeling sparkly.

You took Mum, which was a kind and timely thing. You also took three lovely friends - Cecilia, Alan, Alistair, who all still had so much living to do. You very nearly took my sister, and left her so badly injured she was in hospital for over six weeks. In return, you gave me flu and bronchitis. I really don't know how to thank you. Oh, and a cool wet summer.

You also gave me the reliable cycle of times and seasons, the church festivals, new babies at the toddler group and older ones growing up. The reliable Tony, too, who drove thousands of miles helping my family out and kept things turning over when I've been ill.

In Scotland and Northern England we have the tradition of the Firstfoot, the first person to come into the house at New Year. It should be a dark man, and he is supposed to bring luck. In practice this usually means throwing one of the menfolk out just before midnight and letting him in again after the chimes. Last year, it was LOS. LOS, are you reading this? You're not doing it this year. I'll ask Hamilton to be first paw.

As for The Archers, they are completely out of control. Justin and Lillian's wedding is back on if he doesn't get arrested first. Freddie is permanently spaced, Pip is expecting a little accident, Emma's whingeing again, Linda insists on putting rhyming couplets into the pantomine, the vicar just exploded, Peggy's cat needs to be restrained under the Dangerous Animals Act, and Shula is going to Norway leaving Kenton to run things. Kenton can't run a bath. Never mind, he'll probably be eaten by Peggy's cat.

Happy Christmas! xxxxxxx

Sunday, 3 December 2017


The House of Stories has been the House of Plague for two weeks. Any small animals in the vicinity are wearing masks, except for the squirrels who are hiding under their beds in case Apple comes round with her cordial. One of my dad's old jokes was that flu is the result of leaving the window open, as in 'I opened the window and in flew enza', but it ain't funny when you're whimpering quietly under the duvet.

However, I'm back, thanks be to God, today I was back at church for the first time in two weeks, and it's Advent Sunday, the first Sunday of the watching, waiting and waking up time. One of my favourite Sundays, and the church's New Year. For the first time, we had a Posada.

In case you're not familiar with this, the Posada is a set of figures - Mary, Joseph, and the donkey - who need a place to stay in the nights leading up to Christmas, and families take turns to welcome them into their homes for a night. The figures have their own ministry, as they help us to think about hospitality, and homelessness, and recognising God when he turns up on our doorsteps. Our rector talked a bit about each of the characters, and we all had tea lights. We could light our tea lights for Joseph - the man who wanted to get out of this situation, but stayed - Mary, who had so many preparations to think of - or the donkey, faithfully carrying other people and their problems.

When the rector said that the donkey is the one who carries us when we need help, Tony and I decided that we are each other's donkeys, which may be one of the nicest things we've ever called each other. But the reason I lit a candle for the donkey is because the donkey plods on and does what it has to do, even though it doesn't have a clue what's going on. I totally identify with that donkey.