Thursday, 25 December 2014


It appears to be Christmas Eve, and we're all sitting in Celia and Ron's sitting room watching Julie Walters doing wonderful things on the television. Isn't it time she became a dame?

We were in Shrewsbury this afternoon. I was on a mission to find a wine glass with a "pretty" on it in honour of Billie Whitelaw. They're not the most fashionable things these days, but I managed to find a cocktail glass with a nice gold rim, which I decided was good enough. It's just something to remember her by.

We met Meriel in the car park down by the river. It took us an age to pay for her pay and display ticket by phone. First the voice-activated system refused to acknowledge Meriel's voice and then it registered the wrong number plate and we had to send a text message with all the correct information attached. Desperate, really.

Still, the town looked stunning in the orange wintery sunlight. There were a pair of weeping willows hanging over the river which were glowing positively orange just before it started to get dark. Shrewsbury is such a pretty town, and such a charming place to wander around in on a Christmas Eve.

The shops were mostly closed by about 4pm, so we drove in tandem to the Pizza Hut in Wrecsam where Nathan's family traditionally gather for a Christmas Eve meal. It was Christmas hats and meal deals all round, and an obscene amount of food passed our lips including trips to the ice cream factory where long spiralling dollops of white ice cream dropped out of the machine and onto our bowls like giant dog turds from the 1970s!

It's been so nice to have Meriel with us all day. She's entirely entered into the spirit and wore a cardigan earlier on adorned with tinsel and sparkly things.

Celia has taught me how to make a trifle today. What we've created is no doubt something I'll be stuffing into my mouth with great alacrity tomorrow...

We went to midnight mass in a church in the middle of the Shropshire countryside. It was one of the clearest nights I've known in years. The church was floodlight against the blackened sky with no other buildings for miles around. The stars were astonishingly bright. Londoners forget how black a night sky can actually be. It's a pleasure to look into a sky which isn't tinged with a sickening halogen glow.

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