It was a week before Christmas…

It’s madness in the cities on this little island. Madness, I tell you. People driving like crazed loons, minds anywhere but on the road, crowds in the supermarkets and stores and so on.

We went to the city for two days but then fled the angst as if it were a noxious fog.

I ask myself the same question every year – why does it become a madhouse, because we know every year that Christmas is on 25th December and surely we can build organisation into our lives?

Mind you, this year it’s just a little different. This year, there’s a commonly held opinion that the madness may be because our state borders have opened for the first time since March 2020. Our island population of about 600,000 is justifiably nervous as most of us have been lucky thus far. We have a vax-rate of nearly 90%, so we’re all hoping we’ll be okay, but maybe the madness is because folk are trying to get in and out of cities and shops before the incomers do indeed give us Omicron.

I’m fairly organised. We’re a small family and so I finished shopping and wrapping a few weeks ago. The Christmas cooking is all done. And from Open Borders Day, my family and I plan to keep a low profile – not mixing with anyone we know who has been interstate or overseas until their obligatory tests have been done and proved okay. We also don’t plan to mix in crowds. We’re lucky we can shut the gate on the world when we want and only visit isolated outdoors places. But that’s our way of protecting ourselves and our loved ones. Some might think we’re practising overkill. So be it!

For us, Christmas is all about our little grandson who at three and a half, now has a slightly more enlarged appreciation of Christmas trees, presents and fun. We want his memory-bank to be filled with such good and positive things to bolster him in life. If he can draw on those in the tough times, then it’s a nice insulation.

If I have any problem with my own pre-Christmas, it’s that the kitchen and kitchen garden take over my life. It’s summer, and the produce comes thick and fast and who wouldn’t want to take advantage of organic fresh best? But the preponderance of hunter-gatherer jobs means that I barely do any writing at all. The saviour is that I go to bed and after I turn out the light, I tell myself the next few pages, and the next and the next after that.

Before the light’s switched off though, currently I’m reading The Watchmaker of Dachau by Carly Schabowski on my Kindle. It’s such a poignant story but so well-rendered, conveying the horror without being gratuitous. The characters are overflowing with depth – my favourite kind of narrative.

In print, I’m reading 100 Chapters in the Life of Prince Phillip by Ian Lloyd.  Fascinating and gives an unusual reveal on the man who was the Queen’s ‘strength and stay’. I absolutely love that description – it’s filled with such love and respect.

And in audio, I’m listening to Bernard Cornwell’s Harlequin. I’m an enormous fan of his writing, and the narrator Andrew Cullum is wonderful. I’ve taken to carrying my phone all around the house while cleaning, ironing, whatever – so I can keep listening.

I was also privileged to listen to a fabulously narrated audition of my own novel, Tobias. But more on that in a future post. The narrator just got it! It was thrilling! Just between you and me, I felt a little bit as if I was listening to one of Bernard Cornwell’s beautifully narrated stories. Please don’t think I’m comparing my meagre output with Cornwell books. Not in a month of Sundays. Oh that I wish I could be such a writer! But I think it was just that my narrator gave Tobias that ‘sound’.

Anyway… in the spirit of Christmas and summer and gardens, I won’t be working on my WIP this week and may Brother Bruno, the lead character in Oak Gall and Gold forgive me. I’ll be trying to work on the production notes for Tobias if I can…

…but most likely I’ll be picking more broadbeans, more berries and helping OH trim the hedges which have ‘growed like Topsy’.