Monday, 23 December 2013

Twas the Mum before Christmas.

Twas the night before Christmas, and in the abode,
One creature was stirring, as she cleaned the commode,
The children were sleeping, all snug in their beds,
As visions of presents flipped through their heads.

Dad was snoring in front of the telly,
With a half-made bike strewn on his belly.
Only the mum heard the reindeers hooves clatter,
Which made her sigh, "Oh now what's the matter?"

With toilet bowl brush still clutched in her hand,
She descended the stairs, and saw an old man.
He was covered with ashes, which fell with a shrug.
"Oh great!" muttered mum, “I must clean the rug!”

“Ho-ho!” cried Santa, “I'm glad you're awake.”
“Your gift was especially tricky to make.”
“Thanks Santa,” she said, “but I must clean my home”
“No problem!” he chuckled, “I've made you a clone!”

“A clone?” she asked, “What good is that!?”
“Run along, Santa, I've no time for chat.”
But there stood her twin, same hair, and same eyes,
Same kindly smile, she was most surprised.

“She'll cook, she'll dust, she'll mop every mess.
Just relax, take it easy, put your feet up and rest”
“Fantastic!” mum cheered. “My dream has come true!”
“I'll shop. I'll read. I'll sleep the night through!"

But then from above, the youngest started to fret.
“Mummy?! I’m scared... and my bed is all wet."
The clone then replied, “I'm coming sweetheart!”
“Not bad!” the mum smiled, “She sure knows her part.”

The clone changed the small one, while humming a tune,
As she bundled the child, in a duvet cocoon.
“You the best mummy ever! I really love you!”
The clone smiled and sighed, “I love you, too.”

The mother then frowned and said, “Santa, no deal!
That's my babies love, she's trying to steal.”
Smiling wisely Santa said, “To me it is clear,
There’s only one mother, that’s needed here.”

The mum kissed her child, and tucked her in bed.
“Well thank you Santa, for clearing my head.
I sometimes forget, that it won't be long,
When they'll be too old, for my cradle-song.”

The clock on the mantle then started to chime.
Santa whispered to clone, “It works every time.”
Then back on his sleigh Santa took flight,
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Thursday, 19 December 2013

The Best Bear

This is Princess Lucy Biscuit. Princess Lucy Biscuit is a hand-made, cotton teddy bear, she is mostly orange and belongs to Katie Carter. She was given to Katie as present when she was just a baby by her nan who is terribly good at making things like cotton bears and indeed anything made of wool. Princess Lucy Biscuit is, shall we say . . . a little tired around the edges and more than a little grubby. She has a blackcurrant stain on the back of her head from where she has been kissed goodnight by a previously thirsty Katie. One of her blue button eyes is missing, as is her right ear and her right leg only hangs on by a few threads. She has even got several floral patterned patches all over her body, where holes have appeared or seams have come apart. In short, she is a rather well used bear.

She got her rather unusual name from Katie’s three favourite things in the world. Which are Disney Princesses, her best friend Lucy and biscuits. That’s all biscuits in general. Katie loves them all. Even ginger nuts, pink wafers and ones with coconut in! Katie loves Princess Lucy Biscuit and takes her just about everywhere she goes.

In fact the only time that they’re apart, is when Katie goes to school. Katie was most annoyed when she found out that she wouldn’t be able to take her bear with her when she started big school. Although Katie does still manage to walk to and from school with Princess Lucy Biscuit tucked tightly under one arm. Her mum brings her to greet Katie every day after school and today was no exception.

. . .

Katie was terribly excited as she ran across the playground into the open arms of her mum. “Mum! Mum! Guess what!? Guess what!?”

“Well, hello to you!” Katie’s mum said giving her a tight squeeze, “What on earth has got you so excited?”

“Princess Lucy is going to get to come to school with me on Friday!” Katie exclaimed as she grabbed hold of the limp orange bear that Katie’s mum was holding out ready.

“Really sweetheart!? Well that is lovely. So why’s that then?”

“Well.” replied Katie trying to calm her elation as she clutched Princess Lucy to her chest. “As it’s nearly Christmas the school are having a ‘Bring your bear to school day!’ And there’s gonna be a bear show and everything! Everyone gets to show off their bears and the winner of the ‘Best Bear’ wins a prize!

“Oh I see!” said Katie's mum as she took hold of Katie's hand and started to lead her out the playground and through the school gates.

“It’s brilliant isn’t it!” said Katie getting enthusiastic once more as she skipped through the school gates. “Princess Lucy is bound to win as she’s the best bear in the whole wide world, isn’t she mum?”

“Well if bears could win prizes for being the most loved, I’m sure Princess Lucy Biscuit would win hands down” Katie’s mum said as they waited to cross the main road with Mrs Baker the lollipop lady.

“You mean paws down.” Katie replied, waving one of Princess Lucy’s fragile arms at her mum.

“Haha,” chuckled Katie’s mum. “Yes you’re quite right. Paws down.”

. . .

The rest of that week passed in a blur. All the children were buzzing with excitement about the bear show and were all proudly boasting that their bear was the best.

Katie’s best friend Lucy was almost just as excited as she was, “I’m not sure which one of mine to bring in!” She said to Katie. “I have so many and I love them all! I’m just not sure which one’s the poshest?”

“How about Purple Jasmine?” Katie suggested. (Lucy was as keen on Disney Princesses as Katie, which is of course a sound basis of strong friendship).

“Ooo yeah!” Lucy agreed and clapped her hands with excitement, “She’s lovely and floppy and ever-so fuzzy.”

“Mine’s a proper Hamley’s Marmalade Bear!” Bragged Stacey Smith, who had appeared behind them to join in the conversation. “It’s bound to win, it’s fur is so thick and soft it feels like cotton wool!”

“Wow!” said Katie, slightly enviously.

“Well mine’s a 'Classic Steiff Bear'!” Gloated Jeremy Berry, who never passed an opportunity to brag to anyone who would listen.

“That's a shame.” said Katie, “Princess Lucy is lovely and floppy!”

“No!” Jeremy snapped “It's a 'Steiff' bear! Not a stiff bear! I'll have you know 'Steiff' are a very posh maker of Teddy bears, and they all have an official yellow ear tag. Daddy brought it for me last Christmas. And it’s still in it’s box!” he continued, almost bursting with pride. “Did you know things are worth so much more money if you leave them in their boxes.”.

“Oh!” Katie replied, she didn’t really understand the point of having a bear, or any toy for that matter if you just left it in it’s box no matter how much money it was worth.

. . .

Very soon it was the day of the Bear Show and Katie was overjoyed as she proudly brought Princess Lucy Biscuit into the classroom with her that morning. The real Lucy was waiting to greet her with an enormous smile and an equally enormous soft lilac bear.

“Look Katie! I brought in Purple Jasmine like you said. Just feel how soft she is!” she said as she held out the big bear head first at arms length.

“Oooo yeah” Replied Katie feeling the soft fur, “If Princess Lucy doesn’t win, I hope Purple Jasmine does”

“Aww thanks Katie” Lucy replied, before turning and running off to show as many people as she could just how soft and fuzzy Purple Jasmine was.

Katie was a little upset that Lucy hadn’t said that she hoped Princess Lucy Biscuit would win, but she knew that Lucy, like herself, was probably just a bit too excited.

Then a sudden shriek of delight made Katie turn around “Is that your bear!!?”
It was Stacey Smith, she was pointing at Princess Lucy Biscuit and laughing, as she clutched her own dark orange bear. “Hahaha! It’s rubbish!!”

Katie was quite taken aback by this reaction and suddenly felt herself becoming a little embarrassed.

“Hey everyone!!” Stacey turned and called out to her assembled classmates, “Look at Katie’s bear! It’s a right mess! Hahahaha”

All the children stopped chatting about there bears and turned to look at Katie and the rather sad looking Princess Lucy Biscuit hanging limply from under her arm.

Most of them burst out into fits of laughter and they all pointed at Katie and her worn little bear. Another child joined in and shouted with from across the classroom “ Hahaha! It looks like it’s been run over by a lorry and jumped on!” Only Katie’s best friend Lucy had come to Katie's defence and shouted at them to all shut up and leave Katie alone.

Katie’s face started turning red and a lump appeared in the back of her throat as she fought back the hot tears that were welling up behind her eyes. Thankfully it was at this point that Miss Bainbridge, Katie’s teacher, walked in.

“Settle down everyone!” Miss Bainbridge called out as she clapped her hands together to get everyones attention. “Settle down please! I know you’re all terribly excited about today, but the bear show is not until this afternoon, so please can you all sit in your chairs so I can take the register.” Katie, relieved that the attention was now not on her, and that she had managed stop herself from crying, quietly walked to her chair near the front of the classroom and sat down.

. . .

It had been quite a traumatic morning for Katie, it seemed everyone had an opinion on just how ‘rubbish’ Princess Lucy Biscuit was and made sure they told Katie exactly what they thought of her bear.

Then the lunchtime bell rung and all the children, full of excitement, pushed and jostled their way noisily down the hall to try and be first out onto the playground. Katie was keen to get outside too, and she was doing her best to ignore the cruel chants of some of her classmates who were singing in unison “Katie’s bear, has got no hair, it looks like dirty underwear”.

She rushed out onto the playground with Lucy, both holding tightly to their bears and pleased to get away from all the mean comments.

Then disaster struck.

As Katie and her best friend ran to sit on the bench that her and Lucy usually shared to eat their packed lunch, Princess Lucy Biscuit’s flimsy right leg swung out and got caught in the old chain fence that ran around the perimeter of the playground.

Katie felt the tug, but it was too late, she was running too fast.

There was a short ripping sound and as Katie stopped and spun round she saw to her horror that Princess Lucy Biscuit’s shabby right leg had been torn off and was now hanging sadly from the fence and blowing in the breeze.

“Oh Katie!” Lucy exclaimed, as she turned and saw the reason why Katie had suddenly stopped. Not really knowing what to say, but knowing that nothing she could say was going to make her best friend feel any better.

Katie said nothing, she just went and gently picked off the stricken limb from fence and held onto it tightly. She then sat down on the worn wooden bench, placed her bag on her lap, rested Princess Lucy on her bag, then slumping forward, buried her head onto Princess Lucy's lumpy belly and began to cry deep heartfelt sobs.

Lucy said nothing, she just put her arm over her friends quaking back and then trying not to draw anyone else's attention to the situation she dipped into her rucksack and starting to eat her egg sandwich as if nothing was happening.

Although it wasn't very long before the sight of Katie crying into her teddy was spotted by one of the passing Dinner Ladies who was walking the perimeter of the playground doing their rounds.

Mrs Roberts was a very portly, rosy cheeked Dinner Lady and certainly one of the children's favourites. She came over and sat down on the other side of the bench, placed her hands on her lap then leaned over and whispered to the whimpering Katie.

“Hello young Katie, what on earth has got you so upset dear?”

“It . . it . . .it's Princess Lucy.” Katie said sniffing back the tears. “Everyone is being horrible about her, and now her . . . her . . . leg has come off and it's the bear show this afternoon!” Katie then allowed her hand to open, showing Mr Roberts the orange cotton leg.

“Ah I see. Yes that is very serious” said Mrs Roberts, “May I see Princess Lucy?”

Katie nodded and presented Mrs Roberts with her bear.

Mrs Roberts held up the dishevelled bear and then looked down at it's leg in Katie's hand. “Well, I don't think this is anything to worry about young Katie. It's nothing that a trip to the medical room won't fix. Why don't you come with me to see Mrs Cobb in the medical room and we'll see about fixing Princess Lucy up. How does that sound?”

“Okay.” Katie said brightening up a bit and wiping her nose and eyes across her coat sleeve. “Her full name is actually Princess Lucy Biscuit, but mostly I just call her Princess Lucy. Although I suppose her full name should really be Princess Lucy Biscuit Carter shouldn't it?”

“Well yes dear, I suppose it should.” Mrs Roberts replied, levering herself up off the bench. “Are you coming too young Lucy?” she asked Katie's friend who was still sat on the bench munching her lunch. Lucy took another big bite of her egg sandwich and quickly shook her head. Lucy didn't like the medical room, according to her, it was scary and it smelt funny.

. . .

In no time at all, Katie was sat in the big green fabric chair in the corner of the small office with a beaming smile on her face. Princess Lucy Biscuit's leg had been expertly stitched back onto her body with some thick red cotton by steady hand of Mrs Cobb, who seemed to understand just how traumatic the incident had been. All the insults and the accident were now completely forgotten as Katie held Princess Lucy up in the air and gently rocked her to test her newly attached leg. Smiling with pride at Mrs Roberts, who was standing by the door and then at Mrs Cobb, who seemed very pleased with her own handiwork. “Thank you Mrs Cobb!” Katie enthused “Her leg is better than ever!”.

“You're really very welcome Katie,” replied Mrs Cobb behind her large round glasses, “We can't have an injured bear for the bear show this afternoon, now can we?”

With that, Katie thanked Mrs Cobb and Mrs Roberts again, then turned and scampered back down the hall and skipped out onto the playground to eagerly show Lucy, who had been patiently waiting for her friend to return, her newly repaired bear.

. . .

The time of The Bear Show had arrived, and the normally quite bare, and soon to be very 'bear' assembly hall had been transformed with Christmas decorations. All around silver and gold garlands looped across the high ceiling and a lofty Christmas tree adorned with hundreds of sparkling baubles and trinkets stood proudly at the far end. It looked magnificent with it’s lush needled branches festooned with brightly glowing coloured lights and tinsel, and it was so tall, the golden star on top nearly touched the ceiling. Katie stood in entrance to the hall in open-mouthed awe at how amazing the place looked. Tables had been set out along all the walls, with red Christmassy coverings on them for all the children to show off their bears to the judges.

The hall was filling up with the noise of excited children with their bears. Katie looked around and couldn't believe how many different sorts of bears there were. There were big bears, small bears, fat bears, thin bears, tall bears, short bears, long-legged gangly bears, bears in boxes, bears with bows and even a bear wearing football boots! Katie let out a little sigh as she wondered to herself how Princess Lucy Biscuit would do in the competition with all these bears to choose from. She kissed Princess Lucy on the top of the head and whispered “Don't worry Princess Lucy, you'll still be my favourite bear.” Then looking at the big clock at the far end of the hall she realised that it wouldn't be long now before all the mums and dads arrived to watch the proceedings and lend their support.

Katie and Lucy soon found their places and stood behind their tables. Each festively dressed table had a folded yellow card showing the name of the bear, which the children had spent some of the morning writing, colouring in and decorating. Katie, proudly positioned Princess Lucy Biscuit behind her card and tried as best she could to make her sit up. Unfortunately, being a rather floppy cotton bear, 'sitting up' wasn't one of Princess Lucy Biscuit's strong points. So currently, she was slumped forward with her head resting on her floral patched feet. Katie looked at the sad looking crumpled bear and decided that it would probably be best if she just held her as the judges came around.

Just then Katie heard a very familiar voice whispering in her ear, “Hello sweetheart, have you had a good day? Are you feeling excited?”

It was Katie's mum. She had turned up a little earlier than expected, but Katie couldn't of been happier to see her after the day that she'd had. So without saying a word, she turned and wrapped her arms as tightly as she could around her mums legs and clung on. Katie's mum lent forward and tried to hug her as best she could, which is never easy when someone is hugging your legs so tightly.

“Are you okay sweetie?” Katie's mum asked, sensing that not all was well.

“People have been horrible to Katie about Princess Lucy!” The real Lucy said, stood behind her table and almost hidden from view by the rather large Purple Jasmine.

Katie's mum then crouched down and held both of Katie's hands, “Is that true Katie? Have people been saying nasty things?”

Katie nodded, before replying “Yes. They said that she looked like a dirty pair of pants and then her leg fell off!”

“Oh sweetheart, that's not very nice of them is it?” Katie's mum said as she gave her another big hug, with a slight look of confusion on her face. Which came from not really understanding how a bears leg can come off by calling it names, and the fact that clearly both of Princess Lucy Biscuits's leg's seemed to be perfectly in place. “Look, I'm sure they didn't mean it. They were probably just being a bit silly cos they were so excited, and Princess Lucy's leg looks okay to me!”

“Mrs Cobb fixed it in the medical room!” Katie replied before excitedly waving Princess Lucy's legs in a rather undignified fashion in her mums face, “See! It's better than ever!”

A few minutes passed and the hall was now a cacophony of noisy chatter. Filled with mums and dads and children and their bears. Then suddenly there was quiet, it was like a thick blanket of silence had been laid over the entire hall. The three judges had entered the hall, and were nodding and smiling at the gathered crowd as they started to make their way around the bear adorned tables.

The judges of the bear show were the Headteacher, Mr Marshall, the Deputy Head, Mrs Stevens and the School Secretary Miss Reid. Mr Marshall was a very tall and very thin man, who always wore a smart grey suit. He had large black-rimmed glasses and a shock of silvery grey hair that seemed to defy gravity and stood straight up from the top of his head. He was a very kind man, and always greeted the children with a smile. Although this didn't stop the children always feeling slightly nervous in his presence. Mrs Stevens on the other hand, was almost the exact opposite! She was a very short, and a very round lady, so much so that she was almost spherical. She was very jolly indeed and seemed to spend a lot of her time chuckling about something or other. The children adored her, and would often run up to her just for a hug, which was always well received. Jolly people always make the best huggers, that's just a fact. Finally there was the lovely Miss Reid. She was quite tall and willowy, and wore thin circular glasses that she perched on the end of her nose, so she could peer over top of them when talking to someone. Miss Reid, was also very quiet and shy so whenever she spoke, it was almost always as a whisper.

It seemed to take forever for the judges to make their way around the tables, looking at every bear and chatting to their owners. Mr Marshall sedately striding from one bear to the next with his hands crossed behind his back. Occasionally he and Mrs Stevens would lean towards Miss Reid and whisper something, which she would then hurriedly scribble down in a small purple notebook. Katie was getting more and more nervous as the the three judges got nearer and nearer. She had already dashed to the loo for a 'last minute wee' four times! Still it was too late to worry about things now, the judges had finished talking to Lucy about Purple Jasmine. Now it was Katie's turn.

“Well hello Katie,” Mr Marshall said in his deep gravelly voice, “and who do we have here then?” he said as he leaned forward to read the very neatly crayoned name card on the table. “Oh! A Princess ay! Princess Lucy Biscuit. Well that is a very fine name indeed. I must say, I do think bears with a title must be very special indeed.” He then looked up and into the distance as if deep in thought. “When I was a small boy, which of course was a long time ago, I had a bear called General Spencer Duffle Coat. He was a wonderful bear and indeed he still is! Sadly though he's a bit too old and fragile to be able to join in with today's activities, but he does still have pride of place at my home.”

Lucy couldn't imagine Mr Marshall having a bear, much less image him as a small boy! Although she was quite pleased that his bear also had a long name too. Katie clutched Princess Lucy to her chest, and trying to ignore Stacey Smith who was sniggering and pointing at Katie from across the hall. She took a deep breath and then said, “Mr Marshall?”

“Yes Katie?”

“I know Princess Lucy isn't as soft and fuzzy as a lot of the bears, and she's not as posh as some. And I know she's got an eye and an ear missing, and she nearly had a leg missing today as well! And she's got a blackcurrant smudge on her head, but I really do love her very much you know. My mum says that she only looks they way she does because I've loved her a bit too much! That's not a bad thing though is it?”

Mrs Stevens and Miss Reid looked at each other and smiled, then they both looked over to Mr Marshall still with a smile on their faces. Then Miss Reid started writing in her notebook again.

“Katie, I'm not sure that loving someone too much is ever a bad thing.” Mr Marshall replied, then he lent forward and very softly said “One of the things I've learnt about life Katie, is that thankfully it isn't what you look like on the outside that matters. When you truly love someone, it's what's on the inside that counts.”

“Hmm.” Katie considered this for a moment and then said “I think Princess Lucy has got socks on the inside, but I've never counted them!”

Much to Katie's confusion the three judges started chuckling at this, before Mr Marshall said “Well Katie, I'm sure how ever many she has, it's just the right amount.”

. . .

After what seemed like forever to little Katie the three judges finally finished making their way around the entire hall, stopping at each and every bear and chatting with their owners. Now Mr Marshall, Mrs Stevens and Miss Reid climbed the the short staircase that led to the stage at the front of the hall. The hall fell silent as Mr Marshall stood behind his big wooden lectern, his watery eyes sparkling behind his thick rimmed glasses as he beamed at the assembled crowd.

“Good afternoon all bears and good afternoon children,” he said, and looked around at the children's faces as he waited for the chorus of 'Good afternoon Mr Marshall' which all the children sang in unison. “and a good afternoon to all the mums and dads who have managed to join us on this very exciting day. Firstly, I would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and thank you all for coming.” Then he paused and took a deep breath. “Now, we are all here today to celebrate our bears, and having met all of your bears, I can say without a shadow of doubt, that there isn't one here today that isn't considered to be the best bear by it's owner. Which of course is how it should be. Nevertheless we are here today to award the prize for the best bear aren't we? This really has been no easy task, for every bear here today has a story, every bear is very important for all kinds of reasons, and every bear is loved. However, there must be a winner, and myself, Mrs Stevens and Miss Reid have all came to the same decision. . . and there was one bear, to whom we all agreed really was the best bear in our opinion.” The hall started to fill up with the whispered murmurings of the children and their parents as they speculated about who it was that might of won. Then speaking a little louder to be heard over the hubbub Mr Marshall continued. “Well I won't keep you in suspense any longer. So without further ado, we would like to proudly announce the winner of 'The Best Bear' is . . .”

There was a unified intake of breath as the hall fell into total silence once more. All around the children's eyes were locked onto Mr Marshall as he was about to reveal the winner.

“. . . Katie Carter and her bear, Princess Lucy Biscuit!” Mr Marshall then gestured to where Katie was standing and started to loudly applaud. There was some audible gasps from some of the children, who then as one, turned towards Katie and slowly at first began to join in with the applause.

Katie was rooted to the spot with her mouth hung open, she really hadn't expected to hear her name at all, she couldn't quite believe her ears. Then the trance was broken and she spun round to her mum who was lent over and beaming with pride as she held out her hands for a hug. “Mummy! Mummy! She won! She won! Princess Lucy won!” Katie blurted out as she buried herself into her mothers chest and wrapped her arms around her.

“I know sweetheart, isn't it fantastic! Well done! I'm so proud of you.” Katie's mum said, her eyes welling up with tears of pride.

Katie then pulled out of the hug, “And Princess Lucy mum! Don't forget Princess Lucy! She won it after all.

“Yes of course,” Katie's mum replied, “I'm very proud of Princess Lucy as well”

Then Mr Marshall's voice boomed over the sound system once again, “Come along Katie, come up here and get your prize”

Katie's heart was pounding in her chest as she nervously made her way to the stage through the deafening sound of cheering and applause. She unsteadily climbed the steps, and quickly walked across the stage to where Mr Marshall and the other judges were waiting and smiling as they carried on the applause. Mr Marshall lent forward to greet her, rested his hand on her should and whispered “Well done Katie. May I hold Princess Lucy for a moment?” Katie nodded and handed her over. Then Mr Marshall turned to face the audience once again as the clapping and cheering finally subsided.

“Mums and dads, children and bears, I'd like you all to meet Princess Lucy biscuit.” Mr Marshall said as he proudly held aloft the droopy bear. “Now, I know a lot of you may be thinking how can a bear like Princess Lucy be crowned the best bear, and it's perfectly understandable that you may well think that. She certainly isn't the most expensive bear here today, and she doesn't have the softest and richest of fur. She isn't the most evenly stuffed and there are a few patches and a couple of missing appendages here and there, but speaking to young Katie here earlier, she reminded me of something which I think is very important to us all. It doesn't really matter what you look like on the outside, it's what's on the inside that gives us true beauty. Even if what is actually on the inside happens to be some old socks. Isn't that right Katie?” Mr Marshall then looked towards Katie who was nodding in agreement. “You see, it doesn't matter to Katie that her bear is not as grand as a lot of the bears here today, she still loves her with all of her heart, and it doesn't matter that she didn't cost a lot of money, because the true measure of someones worth is how much love they give, and how much love they evoke in others. So let's here it one more time please, for Katie and Princess Lucy Biscuit, The Best Bear.”

The hall then erupted into an enormous cacophony of people clapping and cheering and stamping their feet, as Katie stepped forward to receive the grand prize. It was the biggest present Katie had ever seen! It was nearly as big as she was, and was beautifully wrapped in Christmas paper and tied up with bright red ribbon. Mrs Stevens, and Miss Reid both hurriedly stepped round Mr Marshall to hold it for Katie. Plus, there was a magnificent big red rosette with the words 'Best Bear' written on it in gold for Princess Lucy. Katie felt she would almost burst with pride as she took Princess Lucy back from Mr Marshall and gave her an enormous kiss on top the head.

* * *

This is Princess Lucy Biscuit. She's sitting on the end of Katie's bed. She's still a little tired around the edges and more than a little grubby. She still has a blackcurrant stain on the back of her head from where she was kissed goodnight by a previously thirsty Katie. She still has one of her blue button eyes missing, as well as her right ear. Although her right leg is now very firmly attached with some thick red cotton. She has still got several floral patterned patches all over her body, and Katie wouldn't have her any other way. However these days, the patches on Princess Lucy Biscuit's tummy are covered up with a great big red rosette, with the words 'Bear Bear' written on it in gold.

Oh and as for the enormous Christmas Present that Katie received? Well, I guess like Katie, we're just going to have to wait until Christmas to find out.


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Put a little love in your heart

We're SO nearly there now, surely you must be feeling it by now!? Those Christmas tingles keep getting stronger and stronger the closer we get and there's really nothing we can, or indeed should do about it!

So let go! Let loose! (No, not the short lived boy band from 1994, although 'Crazy for You' wasn't that bad a song) Give in to the overwhelming excitement that the normal people try to pretend they don't have, and the cool people try to pretend they don't care about. They're all lying really! Deep down inside, even in the most Bah'est Humbugger everyone loves a bit of that Christmassy feeling. The trick is to learn to accept it, and just go with it, and let it flow over you like some kind of festive tidal wave of joy.

So with that in mind, here's a little ditty with the words slightly changed, from one of my all time favourite Christmas films, 'Scrooged' with Bill Murry.
(Bill Murry ay! He always makes a brilliant film, always hilarious!) *private joke*

It's nearly Christmas time
We should be feelin' fine
Put a little love in your heart
You see it's nearly hear
We should be full of cheer
Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see

Think of your fellow man
Lend him a Christmas hand
Put a little love in your heart
If you want the world to know
We want the joy to flow
Put a little love in your heart

And the world (and the world) will be a better place
All the world (all the world) will be a better place
For you (for you)
And me (and me)
You just wait (just wait)
And see, wait and see

Take a good look around
Even when feeling down
Put a little love in your heart
So at this Chrimbletide
Let Kindness be your guide
Put a little love in your heart

And the world (and the world) will be a better place
And the world (and the world) will be a better place
For you (for you)
And me (and me)
You just wait (just wait)
And see

People, now put a little love in your heart
Each and every day
Put a little love in your heart
Could feel like Christmas Day
If ya put a little love in your heart
It's up to you
Put a little love in your heart
C'mon and
Put a little love in your heart
Put a little love in your heart

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The 'Ohbuggerit' cards

The last Wedenesday before Christmas, and the last Wednesday I'm gonna have to work for 2013 you say?! Well roast my chestnuts by an open fire, and you're welcome to all of my toes Mr Jack Frost! WAHEY!!

We are indeed getting very close to sacred day of festivities, and this is also normally the point before Christmas when you may start to receive the annual 'Ohbuggerit' Christmas card. You know the one, the one you get from those people who are probably quite lovely, but don't necessarily fall into your Christmas radar when you make your list of Christmas Cards to send out.

The card will plop onto your doormat, (which is incidentally the only time when it's nice for something to plop on your doormat) you'll excitedly open it, and then, with a slight feeling of dread, you'll read who it is from. Which is how the 'Ohbuggerit' card get's it's name.

Then right there a thought will cross your mind, 'Can I be arsed?' You've sent all your Christmas Cards out and delivered them all now. In your mind, you have neatly crossed off that section of pre-Christmas duties, and now it feels you have to go back and do another one especially! Now you might just think it's nice, and just put it up with the rest of your cards, and not plan to do anything about it. But beware, it will niggle at your conscious and you will probably end up in a panic and try to send one.

Now, you might be lucky. You might of bought more than you need of Christmas Cards. Of course there is always the chance you may of done the other option, which is where you get your pack of cards and take note of how many are in the box and work out who is going to receive one. In which case you won't have any spare one to send. This will also send you into mild panic, so then you have to raid 'The emergency cards'.

Emergency cards are normally kept in an old card box or maybe just in a plastic bag, and probably left with the decorations. They contain an assortment of all the left over cards from previous years. Cards that were part of a multi-pack maybe and just not that funny, or just a little bit lame, but you kept them for just such an occasion.

Of course finding them is only half the battle, once you've decided which of the emergency cards you will send, you then have to try and find the envelope that they belong to. This normally never happens. The emergency card is almost always sent out in an envelope that is at least a good two centimeters too big at one end or other. This is just another rule of sod. It is very rare indeed that any of the emergency cards actually leave your house in the envelope that was designed for them.

Still, no matter how you send or what envelope it's in, getting a Christmas card from anyone brings a little drop of joy and a Christmassy smile to your face. So if you do find yourselves receiving an 'Ohbuggerit' Christmas card this year, do your best to send a little drop of Christmas back.

Well jingle my bells, look at the time! See you tomorrow! x

Monday, 16 December 2013

The 'Tingles'

Ah good morning to you, my tiny Mornington mice of Mirthshire. (another good title for a children's book if ever there was one) It seems that once again 'The Tuesday' has awoken and popped it's head slowly out of it's burrow to greet the day. It's nervous whiskers quivering in the chilly dawn breeze, just before . . . 'PLOP!' a fat raindrop splashed heavily on it's tiny head. Yes, that does make it sound a bit nicer doesn't it? Well, it is the last NORMAL 'The Tuesday' before Christmas you know. As next 'The Tuesday' isn't a 'The Tuesday' at all, it'll be Christmas Eve! Yes folks we are literally THAT close!

The countdown proper has definitely started in earnest now, (See! I told you Earnest loves getting things started! He is a little tinker.) and therefore I think that there really can't be many of us left who aren't experiencing the tingles of Christmas now. Oh yes, the Christmas tingles are upon us. That little nervous excitement in the pit of our stomach's, that feels it bit like butterflies, that tells us Christmas is nearly here.

I think it was this that kept me from falling asleep last night! Yes, I had a bit of a headache as well, as I wrestled with duvet trying to slip into a restful slumber. It's true, headaches are never easy to fall asleep with, but it was the Christmas Tingles that were mostly responsible for my inability to fall into the arms of Morpheus last night.

I guess it was also based on the fact that I was banging on yesterday about the trouble I've been having going back to sleep when I don't have to get up. So my brain, which likes to stir things up, decided to take the juxtaposition (another fine word there) and let me experience the joys of not sleeping at the front end of sleep as well.

Still I'm not too worried, as I know this will now be a regular occurrence in the daily strive for sleep right up until Christmas. It's the same every year, about a week before the Christmas Tingles will start and every night I will find it harder and harder to drift off, because of all the built up excitement. Yes, you may call me sad if you wish, but there it is. As I say, I'm not too worried about this annual bout of insomnia, as I do have lot's of time off coming up to practice my laying in and hopefully catching up on a few extra winks.

Well I must dash, so joy to The Tuesday, the day has come.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Suffering with 'The Mondays'

Good morning all you munificent vessels of interminable jocundity. I do hope your weekend has left you fairy-light eyed and tinsel-tailed this morning. Yes, I think you'll find the Chrimbletide countdown can start in earnest today. (Good old Earnest, he loves getting things going!) As we begin our last full week of work before Christmas. You can almost hear the sleigh bells in the middle distance, calling us to take up our positions around the warm glowing fire of Christmas that has already been lit in or hearts.

That being said, I do still find myself suffering with 'The Mondays' this morning. I'm feeling very much like I'm mentally walking around in a foggy daze this morning. As opposed to last week when I was walking around in foggy days. The brain still doesn't feel like it's woken up properly. I think I may of had too much sleep?

The trouble is you see, I've been particularly rubbish at having lay-ins recently. On those days when I don't have to get up at silly o'clock in the morning, I still find myself waking up at around half-past silly and then not being able to go back to sleep! I would say it's been a bit of a nightmare, but that would imply that I have been asleep to experience said nightmare. Which I haven't.

I know it's quite common for people to have trouble getting off to sleep at the beginning of the night, we even have a word for that. But I wonder if there is a word that covers not being able to get back to sleep at the other end of the night, when really you should be soundly sleeping for at least another two hours? I'm sure you've all had mornings like it, when you wake up and your brain is suddenly in 'woken-up' mode and refuses to switch back off. Generally speaking, after laying there for about an hour, you normally just give up and get up. Which is what I have been doing, although it is annoying when you don't have to be up.

Still, hopefully with a large chunk of time off coming my way, there's a slim chance that my body and brain will have lot's of practice at not getting up. But right now there is a Monday to be done, so we may as well get on with it. So do have yourselves a merry little Monday and let your hearts be light.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Santa's Best Present

Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to visit Santa at a shopping centre. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl.

"Who is this?" asked Santa, smiling. "Your friend? Your sister?"

"Yes, Santa," he replied. "My sister, Sarah, she's sick," he said sadly.

Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

"She really wanted to come with me to see you, but she can't" the child exclaimed. "She misses you," he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy's face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas.

When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted.

"What is it?" Santa asked warmly.

"Well, I know it's really too much to ask you, Santa, but ...." the old woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa's elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors.

"...The girl in the photograph ... my granddaughter. Well, you see ... she has leukemia and isn't expected to make it very much longer" she said through tear-filled eyes. "Is there any way, Santa, any possible way that you could come to see Sarah? That's all she's asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa."

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do.

Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do.

"What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed," he thought with a sinking heart, "this is the very least I can do."

So that evening, he went to the Children's Hospital and found out which room Sarah was in.

Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother, and the girl's brother he had met earlier that day. A woman whom he guessed was Sarah's mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah's thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah's aunt, sat in a Chair near the bed with a weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.

Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, "Ho, ho, ho!"

"Santa!" shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IV tubes intact.

Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug. A child the tender age of his own son, 9 years old, gazed up at him with wonder and excitement.

Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he had to force himself to choke back tears. Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah's face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room.

As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa's shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering "thank you" as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes.

Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she'd been a very good girl that year.

Santa looked intensely at Sarah and said "Do you believe in angels Sarah?"

"Oh, yes, Santa ... I do!" she exclaimed.

"Well, I'm going to ask that angels come and watch over you," he said.

Laying one hand on the child's head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. Then still with his eyes closed he started to softly sing "Silent Night, Holy Night .... all is calm, all is bright."

The family joined in, all smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all. When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah's frail, small hands in his own.

"Now, Sarah," he said authoritatively, "you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting better. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at the shopping centre this time next year, okay?!"

He knew it was risky proclaiming that, to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he had to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could, not dolls or games or toys, but little bit of hope.

"Yes, Santa!" Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright.

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead then left the room.

Out in the hall, the minute Santa was out of sight his eye's welled up and he unashamedly wept.

Sarah's mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa's side to thank him.

"Please don't mention it! My boy is the same age as Sarah," he explained quietly. "This was the very least I could do."

They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, out Santa was again back on the set in the shopping centre for his six-week, seasonal job which he loved to do. A few weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap.

"Hi, Santa! Remember me?!"

"Of course, I do," Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her. After all, the secret to being a 'good' Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the 'only' child in the world at that moment.

"You came to see me in the hospital last year!"

Santa's jaw dropped. Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest. "Sarah!" he exclaimed in a emotional whisper.

He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy, much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before.

He looked over and saw Sarah's mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed a true Christmas miracle. He could hardly believe his eyes! Apparently Sarah was now Cancer-free. Alive and well. He silently looked up and whispered, "Thank you. Tis a very, Merry Christmas indeed!"

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Christmas is for everyone!

Well there's no getting away from it now, Christmas is after all less than two weeks away. But is the spirit of Christmas really just for God-fearing religious types? I'm sure we all know a stereotypical corner shop owner, who would not let their shop be seen without its festoons, (don't ya just love that word? 'festoons' it just sounds SO jolly!) trees and other decorations. Sadly, it often seems to be only members of the 'indigenous' population who take up arms on behalf of the minorities, and warn the rest of us about the "offence" that would be caused by the rest of us parading our Christian-based heritage, in front of them.

One of the big messages of Christmas is "peace on earth, and goodwill to ALL men", (and probably the ladies too!) then surely the participation of any so called 'non-Christian minorities' in the spirit of Christmas should be encouraged! We do live in a so-called multicultural society, and I think it has, slowly, sunk in that if we all want to get along with each other, then taking part in a bit of mainstream Christmasness does no harm at all.

I can see why some people are a bit cynical about it all these days though. I mean, you don't need to be a happy clappy Christian to see that so much of the message of Christmas has got lost in commercialism and materialism. Sadly, that has long been the case. Many British firms, especially retailers, would go bust without Christmas. Slow springs and sluggish summers can be managed if the spending spree comes, as usual, during the late autumn. So really the sad truth is, the commercialism of Christmas, seems to be very important to our economic well being and there's very little we can do about that.

Perhaps many of us have just lost that inner child, when it comes to Christmas? That magical innocence and wide-eyed wonder that can only be felt when you let yourself go and give in to that Christmassy feeling. So seek out your inner child and let the true Spirit of Christmas shine out. When we greet people should say "Merry Christmas" and mean it! Christmas is so much more than time off work or even a religious celebration. Christmas is all about love, peace, joy, hope, and compassion. In fact it's about the very best bits of each and every one of us, no matter who we are or where we're from.

Do look after yourselves, and each other.
Oh and a VERY merry Christmas to you!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Wednesday of Bewilderment

Raindrops on kettles and whiskers on mittens
Bright copper roses and warm woolen kittens
Wild geese that fly but are tied up with strings
This is how muddled my brain is with things!

Tis true! Work it seems as approached the crazy time before Christmas when suddenly all the clients awake from their winter slumber and realise that maybe they have a job that needs doing before Christmas! Because of course, the world would cease to exist as we know it, if instead of getting their job the day before Christmas it was re-scheduled to the beginning of the new year. Still, mutter as I might, these thing do still need to be done. As we all know, 'The Customer/Client Is Always Right' (he said through gritted teeth).

Gritted teeth? Now there's a question. Why would you grit your teeth!? Don't get me wrong, I know it's a bit chilly out. But even if there was 12ft of snow and it was 15 below, I'm not sure I would ever consider actually gritting my teeth.

Actually one of the many definitions of 'grit or gritting' means to 'clench', which as we all know you only really use when you're talking about buttocks. Although maybe it's better we do use the word 'clench', rather than going around gritting our buttocks!

Yes. I think on that note, I shall bid you all a fine day! My work here is done.
(Come on Wednesday, do your worst!)

Monday, 9 December 2013

Fancy a good tuck!?

Do you remember 'tucking-in'? I had this discussion with the The Amazing Lady T last night, as I got into bed and did the cold bed dance. (Oh you know what the cold bed dance is! It's when you lay on your back under the covers and quickly kick your feet up and down to warm up a bit.) I was feeling a bit chilly, so I tucked the duvet in all around me so I looked like some kind of duvet based Merman. It was lovely! And pretty soon, was as snug as a bug in a rug. Or 'snugger than a bugger in a duvet' (depending on your view). Then I remembered tucking-in. Ahhh.

Sadly, with the dawning of the age of the duvet, the days of sheets and blankets seem a lifetime ago. Now I know 'tucking-in' wasn't on everybody's wish list. Good Lady T for instance used to hate being tucked-in as a child and would untuck herself as soon as she could. Although she is a little claustrophobic, (Not an easy word to spell at this hour of the morning, let me tell you) so it is kind of understandable that she wouldn't like the feeling of being hemmed in.

As for me however, I used to revel in it! In fact as a small child I found it very hard to get to sleep unless I was tucked in very tightly, and looking like some kind of blue blanketed caterpillar. I even used to call out to mum if I got untucked. There was just something really comforting about being tightly pinned under a cosy sheet and blanket, that just made me feel secure.

Oh course, the best tucking-ins one could of ever of received were from nurses. I spent quite a few weeks in Brighton's Children's Hospital, over a number of years as I was growing up, and the nurses at the Royal Alex were nothing short of angels. They used to smile so sweetly at me, (although to be fair I was gorgeous!) before they would tuck me in at night, they always managed to do it SO tightly I could barely move. Ahh it was wonderful.

So if you're having trouble getting off to sleep at night, or you're just feeling a little bit chilly. Why not try tucking yourself in! (It can be done, with enough rolling from side to side) Or just get your other half to tuck you in tightly if you find it easier. I promise you, if you're not claustrophobic, you will love it. Bring back tucking-in I say!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

All aboad!

Good day to you and indeed good morningtide tidings from Tidy. Yes, sadly another busily bustling weekend of pre-Christmas hurly-burly and hullabaloo has passed us by. (Don't ya just love the word 'hullabaloo'!? - Do try and slip it into a conversation today, it will make you feel all warm and rosy)

Whether we like it or not, the Christmas Train we all find ourselves upon, brightly painted in greens and reds and gold, draws ever nearer to it's destination. The constant sounds of relentless chuffing of the engine, and the occasional 'WOOT WOOT' of the whistle as we approach a tunnel or travel a steady incline are comforting as we sit back and enjoy the journey.

In fact I do think one of the best things about Christmas is the run-up towards it! The excitement of each and every day being just that little bit closer to the BIG special one! (No I'm certainly not talking about José Mourinho)

So really it doesn't matter that it's a Monday morning. When we get this close to Christmas, every day is just that little bit more exciting than the last. So enjoy your Monday, savor every morsel of it, because when you think a day is dragging, it only means the run-up to Christmas can feel that little bit longer.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Perfect Present

Once upon a time, there was a man who worked very hard just to keep food on the table for his very small family. A family which consisted of himself and his five-year-old daughter Milly. His wife had sadly passed away a few years previously around Christmas time, due to a sudden and terminal illness and since then he had never really found any joy about the special day.

This particular year, a few weeks before Christmas, he found himself in an argument with little Milly after finding out that she had used up the only roll of flashy expensive gold wrapping paper. "Look Milly, you know money is tight round here! We have to work together on this! How am I supposed to wrap things up for people if you've taken all the decent paper!

"I'm sorry Daddy!" She timidly replied, sniffing back tears "I just needed it".

Sadly he was right, money was tight, he was working as many shifts as he could but still ends never seemed to quite meet, and if it wasn't for his kind elderly neighbours who looked after Milly while he was at work he didn't know how he would cope. He became even more upset when on Christmas Eve he saw that the child had used what looked like the entire roll of the expensive gold paper to decorate something that looked like a shoebox, which Milly had put under the Christmas tree. So now he was also concerned about where she had gotten the money to buy whatever it was in the shoebox.

Nevertheless, Christmas morning arrived the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, "This is for you, Daddy!"

As he started to opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, it was just wrapping paper after all and he was regretting how he had shouted at her.

But when he opened the shoebox, he found it was completely empty and again his anger flared. "Have you any idea young lady," he said harshly, "when you give someone a present, there's supposed to be something inside! You wasted an entire roll of wrapping paper on nothing!!" With that he angrily threw the empty box on the floor.

Milly picked up the present from the floor, looked up at him with fat tears rolling from her eyes and whispered: "But Daddy, it's not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was all full."

The father was crushed. He fell on his knees, tear welling up in his eyes and put his arms around his precious little girl. He apologised and begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.

From that day forward, the father keeps this little gold box by his bed, and whenever he is discouraged or faces difficult problems, or even when he is just feeling sad, he opens the box, takes out an imaginary kiss, and is thankful of the love of his beautiful little girl who had put it there.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

It IS cold out there!


Then put your little hand in mine,
There ain't no hill or mountain we can't climb


I got you babe I got you babe . . .

"Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today."

"It's coooold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach?"

"Not hardly. And you know, you can expect hazardous travel later today, what with that, you know, that, uh, that blizzard thing."

"That blizzard . . . thing? Yeah, that blizzard . . . thing. Oh, well, here's the report! The National Weather Service is calling for a 'big blizzard thing!'"

"Yessss, they are. But you know, there's another reason why today is especially exciting."

"Especially cold!"

"Especially cold, okay, but the big question on everybody's lips..."

"On their chapped lips... "

"On their chapped lips, right: Do ya think Phil is gonna come out and see his shadow?

"Punxsutawney Phil!?"

"That's right, woodchuck-chuckers - it's..."

"[in unison] GROUNDHOG DAY!"

Ok . . . so it's not actually Groundhog Day. Ha! Can you imagine repeating a dreary old, run of the mill (Just for you fact fans out there. The mill in question was a weaving mill and the articles first called 'run of the mill' were acutally clothes. An early citation of that comes from an advert by Cook, Taylor & Co. of Lowell, Massachusetts in The Lowell Daily Sun, December 1895, which said: "Seconds and the run of the mill, but for all wearing purposes just the same as firsts at twice the price. Fleeced Jersey Vests in white or Ecru, 2 for 25c." You're welcome Fact Fans) Thursday every day for at least a week. No don't! Don't risk it! The wind might change and it could happen! As we all know Groundhog Day is not until February the 2nd. (hehehe sounds like a King from days of old, 'Yes yes there was William the 1st and then February the 2nd) Sorry! It's just that it IS cold out there today, and for some reason I can't say that phrase without thinking of Groundhog Day.

Hmmm maybe I should of just said it is a bit brisk, fresh, crisp or frigid instead? Would of saved myself a lot of typing! Ahh well wrap up warm and cosy campers!

Monday, 2 December 2013

'The Tuesday' cometh

Good morning to you all my scrumptious purveyors of pleasure, and indeed my sublime strumpets of magnanimity. Sadly I'm afraid 'The Tuesday' has once again doffed it's dusty stovepipe hat towards us, curled it's waxed moustache, then managed to achieve a sinister sneer and an oily smile at the same time. Oh yes, it has arrived, and a little earlier than normal as well. Still I can report it's six-thirty and all's well so far. Plus it is suspiciously mild out there again this morning, you probably won't even need a coat this morning! Trust me! You know the CTTV weather has never let you down before.

I say suspiciously mild cos we all know that come the weekend it's going to be ball shrinkingly cold out there and will probably include what the news people like to call 'An Icy Blast.' It's not an 'Icy Blast' or a 'Siberian Snap' it's called winter. We have it every year! So why does it still come as a shock to all those newsreaders and newspaper editors? Every year, when the temperatures suddenly drop, which they will, they all seem to treat it like it's a really rare occurrence that has never happened before in living memory. Quick, quick, they think, let's hit the panic button and get everyone dreading the next snowflake. Let's stir up the crazy people into a frenzy and convince them it's an approaching Ice Age!

STOP IT! . . . Just . . . stop it. What you are doing is scaremongering and not reporting the news. Let the weather man or weather woman report the weather and you report the news. The weather is NOT the news. Unless there's a tidal wave, hurricane or twister heading to Britain, shush! It's winter, it does get cold, it may well snow a bit at some point. It does seem to happen every year recently, unlike when were little. Then snow hardly ever turned up. A very rare happening, and even when it did there was little more than a couple of inches which only lasted a day or two.

Still, as I said today is suspiciously mild so let's make the most of it even if it is a 'The Tuesday'. Such a lot to do today, Christmas is coming and that does send clients into a panic about getting things done beforehand. Do look after yourselves. Especially you! Yes you! I know what you're like.