Friday, 25 December 2015

Pizzas, bells and smells

I couldn't sleep last night and spent a few hours in the wee smalls curled up in a corner of Sam's sitting room writing music. I tend to think there's no point in tossing and turning on these occasions... Knuckle down and get on with something worthwhile instead.

We drove in convoy to a Pizza Hut on the edge of Chester this morning. Because we celebrated Christmas yesterday, today has felt like Boxing Day, so when we arrived in the city to find everyone bustling about and all the shops open, we were briefly confused.

Eating in Pizza Hut on Christmas Eve is a Gaitch family tradition and today we all opted for the eat-all-you-can buffet. The vegetarian pizzas arrived rather sporadically on the buffet table, so we ended up eating copious bowls of salad whilst waiting for more to arrive. A very fat family seemed to move in like hippopotamuses in a swamp every time a new pizza arrived. You could see them piling their plates high with as many slices of pizza as their huge gobs could chow down on.

I can't talk. I've systematically over-eaten every day for the past week and today was no exception. As Nathan's niece Jenny succinctly put it "every day is so yummy..."

We entertained other diners at the cafe with carols and Christmas songs sung in multi-part harmony. I guess there are few families baring the Von Trapps who could claim to be so vocally adept!

We drove the 212 miles from Chester to Thaxted through remarkably beautiful skies which brought us both rain showers and bright sunlight.

We picked Tina up from Bishop's Stortford and drove her back to Thaxted through the dark country lanes behind Stansted Airport. There's a little house in those parts which gets very big at this time of year. We call it the Christmas House and its increasingly gaudy, somewhat ludicrous Christmas lights have been part of my Yuletime experience for the past twenty years.

We stopped the car outside this evening and got out to have a look around. The proud owner of the house opens the front driveway for visitors and collects money for animal charities.

It may be tacky, somewhat over the top and a bit naff but it made the three of us feel proper Christmassy! There were lots of children milling about who were loving the experience. There are scores of singing Santas, dancing dogs and flashing reindeer. If it's garish, shiny, luminous or multi-coloured it's in. Several times! I think my favourite ornament was a nativity scene with fibrotic pulsing straw in the manger!

I accompanied Tina and my Mum to midnight mass tonight, which proved, if ever proof were necessary, exactly why it is that traditional religion in this country is dying. We sat through litany and liturgy, lengthy prayers delivered by a flat-voiced vicar. There was a raggedy "choir" who insisted on singing the most dirge-like, endless, tuneless chants incredibly badly. It was ghastly and boring. The only time the congregation perked up was when they got to light candles and walk around the beautiful church in a procession behind some kind of 19th century smoke machine. That sort of religion should be about mysticism and theatrics, not boring people half to death. I would be ashamed to be a vicar of a church whose congregation looked quite so passive and uninspired as I spoke. Frankly I'd start by sacking the choir master and increasing ten-fold the number of congregational hymns, telling the flock that if they didn't sing louder and with more joy Jesus wouldn't want them for a sunbeam!

Still, walking through the silent streets of Thaxted as the bells drew us to the church was rather magical, as was the almost full moon, surrounded by a corona, which glowed like a spotlight in the sky.

The vicar, in his dull sermon, told us not to use the word magical. "Magic means trickery and fakery..." We're apparently to use the word mystical instead. What a load of baloney!

We came home and watched News 24, pulling apart a newsreader who appeared to be acting the news, which was odd. She had a funny mouth, a speech impediment and you could see her nipples through her top. Not sure the person who hired her could see much beyond her blonde hair.

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