Saturday, December 24, 2005

One More Sleep!

It's Christmas eve, so we've been for our annual horribly early trip to M&S to get turkey and 'things' for the meat eaters. This year the M&S 7.30 opening time in Solihull was trumped by the 6am start at Sainsbury's Marshall Lake. So we set off just after 6 to get such things as carrots and olives, came home to put those away, and then joined the madding crowd in Poplar Way.

Now the house is filled with church members who have come for coffee and mince pies. So I'm hiding in the study, retreating into the safety of my blog.

Even with my bleary eyes, and the prospect of a long day (singing solos at the crib service at Solihull at 3, and the Shirley midnight communion), I'm still over excited because it's just one more sleep!!!

Friday, December 23, 2005


I've actually figured out how to make a post on this blog at home. I'm at a bit of a loose end because of my 'cleaner in the house' guilt. At college, I always go out on the morning when the bedder does our rooms, because I hate that lazy feeling of having someone tidy up for you.

Yesterday I made over 60 mince pies for the 'open house' tomorrow. That's where I put on my domestic goddess apron. Because I make my own (suet free) mincemeat and my own pastry. I could be quite smug about it if I wanted to. But I won't. Honest.

There are other things that I'm not entitled to be smug about. I wrote most of my novel for NaNoWriMo in November, but haven't been disciplined enough to finish off the final few chapters yet this month. I progressed a bit further yesterday, but I keep on distracting myself with the whole present wrapping and festive cheerfulness thing.

I even went out carol singing on Weds, with a group from Solihull Methodist church. We had NCH carol sheets, new this year, which had not been proofread. This meant that the inhabitants of the quiet suburban streets we visited learnt, for example, that Christ was 'Born himself a woman'. Hmmm. Adds a whole new aspect to the dual nature of Christ...

Friday, December 16, 2005

I *am* a princess

Well I had a princess moment in Borders this morning. I'd ordered a grande Earl Grey tea (with just one tea bag please: have you ever had two bags in a single cup bleurgh), and after paying, I asked for some soya milk to go in the tea. The girl behind the counter got it but proceeded to tell me that she would let me off from paying for it this time because she had already rung up the transaction.
Now I know that you don't have to pay for soya milk in tea; it only costs extra when it's the basis of the whole drink (as in a cappuccino or a latte). So I told her so. And she told me I was wrong. Which I wasn't. So I told her I wasn't. And it nearly turned into a contretemps.
It left me feeling a bit battered and bruised. I should know better than to enter into debate with shop assistants at this time of year: I've had Christmas jobs in shops and the last thing you want is for people to tell you that, actually, they know the rules of your organisation better than you do.
But I did know better and I can't bear being told that I'm wrong!

What is she trying to say?

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My Christmas present from Ruth...
(in case you can't read it, the words say 'I'm a princess')

Time passing

I posted the other day about the strange necessity of summing up a year in a Christmas card: how can we convey the ways in which time has changed us?
This morning I've been rereading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and found the following line, which expresses just what I have been feeling:
'A yere yernes ful yerne, and yeldes never lyke;
The forme to the fynisment foldes ful selden.' (SGGK 498-99)
The Everyman edition translates it thus: 'A year passes very quickly, and never gives back the same; the beginning is very seldom like the end.'
I couldn't (and didn't) say it better myself!

Thursday, December 15, 2005


I posted all my cards this morning, and two parcels to friends who live far away so I'm feeling extremely virtuous. Trouble is that all these Christmas preparations are making it hard to concentrate on Lee Paterson's "What Man Artow": Authorial Self-Definition in The Tale of Sir Thopas and The Tale of Melibee. I'd much rather plan out the presents I'm going to give to my family.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

525600 minutes

As the cast ask in Rent, how do you measure a year?
I haven't done one of those infamous round robin letters, but I am putting little notes in my cards as I write them. Most of the cards are quite small, forcing me to encapsulate an entire 12 months into a couple of sentences. Do I simply say what I'm doing now ("I've started an MPhil in Medieval Literature")? Should I mention my graduation? Or is it impossible that any such message could really convey the ups and downs of the past year: the friendships made and those that have slipped away; the anxieties and the excitements. There are highlights in books I've read, films I've watched and plays I have seen. In fact this Saturday's performance of Canterbury Tales will probably be something else that I'll remember as part of 2005.
I suppose it is inescapable that twelve months or 525600 seconds will change us, and that is something that can only be expressed in some form of contact more personal than a simple message in a Christmas card.

Christmas *is* coming

I bought a couple of cheap Christmas CDs this morning so I can write my cards now! Actual work will have to wait...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My Mini Christmas

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Christmas is coming...

So it's been months (again) since my last post. Now I'm sitting in a warm room in a very cold Cambridge, feeling vaguely Christmassy (due to the pile of Christmas cards next to me that I need to write) but not properly there yet. That's really because I'm still here, and still working. As an undergrad, I was able to go home at the very beginning of December, and get into the swing of yuletide merriment through little rituals like making my own mincemeat or listening to Christmas music.
I tried to write my cards last night. But couldn't. Not without a Christmas album on the CD player. And preferably the AES Tring/Royal Philharmonic Christmas album as well. I have no Christmas CDs here, and no DVDs to play while I write cards and wrap presents. So it just doesn't feel right.
Instead I'm filling my time with 'my' manuscript (SJC G.25), a coursework essay, a PhD proposal, a presentation on Melibee, a presentation on the Vernon manuscript and, as perfect procrastination, updating my website and writing this blog.
Oh. And I did do my laundry this morning as well...