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Dateline: Wednesday 1 June 2016

Place: Glasgow

Event: Bruce Springsteen & the E street band

Verdict: Awesome

Plea: Tour again soon Bruce

Solace: Little Steve touring soon


Good tidings we bring

Scrooge's third visitor, from Charles Dickens:...

Scrooge’s third visitor, from Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love Christmas, there I’ve said it, it’s out in the open. No grumblings of discontent or bah humbug, just a straightforward and enduring love affair between me and the spirit of Christmas, past, present and future.

Of course like all relationships we’ve had our ups and downs…

Such as discovering that my oven didn’t work one Christmas morning and having to cut the turkey into four separate pieces to get it into the (tiny) secondary oven (my how we laughed). Or learning that a freshly unwrapped present needed batteries to make it work.

Then there was the year that my mother in law contracted Norovirus on Christmas Eve, which led to a highly charged hostage situation involving a Christmas dinner and a very grumpy father in law.

Or perhaps my personal favourite, spending New Year’s Eve alone with my wife and consuming so much festive cheer that we ended up getting stuck in our baby’s travel cot just after the bells had chimed. (No child was harmed in the making of this night as she was upstairs in the main cot at the time).

So what will this year bring?  Surely in these austere times our festive frolics will be a little muted and restrained perhaps? Well to be honest no, because I have a secret weapon. I’ve been given the gift of being able to view Christmas afresh through the eyes of a child and that is a present indeed!

You see our toddler will be three in February and this year she REALLY, really gets Christmas for the first time. Cue mass excitement!

Which is why every morning she wakes up greeting the day with cries of “Santa Claus coming to town” or “Santa got stuck up the chimney” before rushing downstairs to gaze at the ‘dancing’ lights on the Christmas Tree.

Her (limited) viewing fare consists of endless cartoons from the likes of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck trimming trees and saving Christmas whilst Rudolf and the boys or the Snowman take flight in the sky above.

She has also started to develop a liking for Stollen Cake and only yesterday we were forced to sit in the living room and share our ‘present’ ideas, shouted in the ear of a cuddly Santa she had sitting on her knee, accompanied by occasional “ho, ho, ho’s” muttered under her breath.

Thankfully it’s not just about Santa though, as she has asked us about the nativity and the birth of Christ, sort of, although it does seem to have translated in her head as being all about getting a pink baby for Christmas, which will no doubt end up being swaddled and laid beneath the tree at some point in the proceedings, thus rather neatly tying together you might say, the twin themes of a modern Christmas.

English: Christmas postcard picture with Santa...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One thing I can say is that despite having already purchased the ‘famed double issue’ of the Radio Times and circled the perennial favourites, the chances of settling down to actually watch any television will be nil.

But in a way that is surely the point. We can watch TV anytime. Christmas should be about fun and toys and games and silly conversations, of family cheer and the knowledge that there really is hope in the world for better things. Which ultimately makes it all worthwhile.

It’s going to be touch and go as to whether my daughter lasts the week or bursts with excitement along the way and frankly I know exactly how she feels.

Merry Christmas!

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Pittencrieff Park in November

I was out walking in our local park yesterday with family in tow.  We were chatting about the lovely decorations on the high street and a huge Christmas tree we had just passed, when all of a sudden we were surrounded by countless grey squirrels on the prowl for easy food.

It was a cold wintry sort of a day and they were everywhere all at once, darting about looking cute and begging for titbits. It didn’t take long for them to work out that we weren’t the best prospects in town and they soon moved on to more promising folk.

But in that short period, my young daughter (“I’m a big girl daddy”) was unbeknown to me creating an entire back story for the squirrel horde and filing it away for our return journey.

Our destination was the revitalised Glen Pavilion in Pittencrieff Park, famous for its connections to Andrew Carnegie but more importantly home to the Peacock Rooms, a notable cake emporium.

We were soon enjoying the bustling confines of this popular café (as one does on a Sunday don’t you know), made even busier than normal by the presence of our local chess club who were on their annual outing (honestly you can’t make this up) and  as the queues died down, we were able to sit back and enjoy the scenery outside as the sky slowly darkened and dusk approached.

Eventually, fortified by steaming hot coffee and a decent slab of homemade lemon drizzle cake and satiated by ‘chess player’ people watching (there is a type you know), we decided to head home, retracing our steps through the darkened park… which is when it happened.

“Daddy” said my daughter in an inquiring tone, pointing at a discarded takeaway lid lying on the path, still bearing the marks of last nights curry, “Daddy, look at the naughty squirrels!”

“Naughty squirrels?” says I, looking slightly confused.

“Yes squirrels, Oh DEAR, making a mess and leaving toast and butter on the floor (in a Scottish accent of unbearably cute proportions), MAKING a MESS daddy.”

I grinned; I may have giggled a little bit, which prompted daughter to continue

“Squirrels leave mess there (pointing) and there and there, oh DEAR!”

Visibly indignant now, she marched off up the path to where we had last seen the thirty strong grey squirrel mob shouting

“SQUIRRELS! Where ARE you? Oh dear, naughty squirrels making mess and hiding!

Stops to look at sky

“AND (very indignantly indeed) putting the lights out to make MORE mess!”

By this time the laughter was deep within my belly, my wife was wiping tears from her eyes and any squirrel’s still in the vicinity were no doubt cowering in shame.

“Squirrels Clean up mess NOW!”

Her subsequent rant took up much of the rest of our walk home and was on the agenda again this morning within minutes of waking up to greet the day. A girl on a mission,  absolutely confident, sure of her facts and determined to give the squirrel community a piece of her mind. It’s priceless.

Aged only 2 years and 9 months she has an imagination I envy, conjuring up her very own utterly implausible yet hugely entertaining explanation as to not only why our beautiful park was covered in litter, but why it had gotten so dark too.

Then telling us about it in such great detail that I wondered if we should be writing it down and sending it to a book publisher.

I cannot wait to hear what she will make of Christmas this year; so far she is set on the idea that there is a big Santa (for big people) and a little Santa (especially for people like her). She is also demanding a “pink tree with bubbles “and has been brushing up on her Bruce Springsteen influenced “Santa Claus is coming to town” rendition.

I hope she never loses that creative spark; I hope that she goes on to write great books or become a genius or something, but in the meantime I will always love her for what she is now, a gorgeous, sweet and an incredibly funny wee person.

Messy, me?

This was my weekend highlight, how about yours?

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