Tag Archives: HHFH

Let Nothing You Dismay

Radio channel Christmas FM rebranded itself, just for this week, as Kissmas FM….  


Mike put his hands over his ears. Here it comes, he thought.

Slade had just started their final rendition of the chorus “So here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun,” and Noddy Holder was about to bawl out “It’s Chrisss-musss!!!” just as he did everyday.

Every. Day.

In a world of year-round Christmas shops, year-round Christmas movie channels and year-round Christmas adverts (“only three-hundred and sixty-four days to go!”) it was inevitable that somebody would come up with a year-round Christmas radio station, catering to Yuletide obsessives, to people who like to make-believe, even in mid-June, that the bells are ringin’ out for Christmas Day.

Mike had been a DJ at Christmas FM for four years now. Four years of playing Frosty the Snowman. Four years of playing Jingle Bell Rock. Four years of playing Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.

Lucky Grandma, thought Mike. Noddy’s yelling finished, the song came to its slow, harmonic end, and Mike turned to his microphone.

“That was Slade with Merry Christmas Everybody,” he said, “and next up-” he looked down at his playlist, and sighed inwardly – “we have Cliff Richard’s Mistletoe and Wine.”

He stared gloomily out of the window as Cliff blathered away about logs on the fire and gifts on the tree (seriously, Cliff, thought Mike, you can’t put a PlayStation on a tree). The job was getting to him. He couldn’t hear somebody mention a list without mentally adding ‘checking it twice’. He would describe the traffic on his commute as ‘top-to-toe in tailbacks’. He was starting to pronounce ‘sleigh-bells’, like in White Christmas, with four syllables.

Roy Wood had once sung that he wished it could be Christmas everyday. Trust me, Roy, thought Mike, you really don’t.

Just as Cliff’s song ended Mike’s producer came into the small studio. Mike looked at him in surprise, but carried on with his job. “Wasn’t that wonderful?” he said into his microphone. “Now we have -” (he could feel a small piece of his soul die) “- Elton John with Step Into Christmas. Stay tuned right here to Christmas FM, where the weather outside is always frightful.”

He saw his producer frown but looked placidly at him. “Hi,” said Mike. “What’s up?”

“Well,” said his producer, “listenership figures are down a bit” (Mike kept his expression carefully neutral) “so we’ve come up with an idea.”

“Really?” said Mike.

“Yes,” said his producer. “Since it’s Valentine’s Day this week, we’re going to rebrand ourself, just for seven days, as Kissmas FM.”

Mike’s heart soared. He could play Someone Like You. He could play Unchained Melody. He could play Angie.

“This is a great idea -” he began, then realised, too late, that the producer had eyes full of tinsel and fire.

“Yes,” said the producer. “You’re to play I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus on a continuous loop.”





Things Go Better

This advert is on a billboard near where we live:

The Original taste? I never knew that…


…. the Third Wise Man approached. “I bring you Coke,” he said.

The other two stared at him. “I thought you were bringing myrrh,” said the First Wise Man.

“Couldn’t get it,” said the Third Wise Man. “None of the shops had ever heard of it.”

Joseph took the bottle from him. “What are we supposed to do with it?” he asked.

“If he needs to be winded,” said the Third Wise Man, “give him some of this first. You have no idea how loudly it will make him burp.”


…. Mary put her hands over her ears. “Please make him stop,” she said.

The Little Drummer Boy sat on a stool, his drum in front of him. Arranged around it were two upturned earthenware pots, the cow’s milking-bucket and, serving as the world’s first cymbals, the hub-caps from a chariot parked ouside the inn.

The Little Drummer Boy had drunk fourteen Cokes, and was now enthusiastically beating out the drum solo from Led Zeppelin’s Moby Dick.


…. Samson, stripped to the waist, pushed against the pillars, biceps bulging. After a while he stopped, and took a drink of Coke.

One of the onlooking Philistine women turned to another. “See you tomorrow?”

Her friend nodded. “Eleven Thirty,” she said.


— the shepherds were awe-struck.

A long convoy of ox-and-carts was snaking slowly along the winding road at the bottom of their hill, each cart laden with crates. A heavenly choir had begun to sing “holidays are comin'”, over and over again. An Angel of the Lord had appeared unto them.

“I bring glad tidings of great joy,” said the Angel, “and also this.”

He put a crate of Coke in front of them.

“This is great,” said the First Shepherd. “we’ll be rightly sloshed after drinking all that.”

“Oh, it’s not alcoholic,” said the Angel, and vanished.

The shepherds gazed at one another. The First Shepherd shrugged.

“We’ll use it to wash the sheep,” he said.


…. he spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings, then jumped back with a jerk,
for the bottle of Coke he had placed in each sock
had compelled them to crash to the ground like a rock.
The floor was all covered with glass and with bubbles
and the air smelled like diesel, to add to my troubles.
And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,
“I’d clean it up quick, that stuff’s sticky as shite.”





What To My Wondering Eyes Should Appear

‘Twas the night before Easter.

Mamma and I were just settling our brains for a long Spring nap, she in her kerchief and I in my cap. This was because it was, as I’ve said, Spring, when Mamma refuses to put the central heating on, despite the fact that Spring in Ireland is just Winter with longer evenings.

Then, from out on the lawn, there arose a clatter. I got out of bed, opened the front door and looked out, but could see nothing. But as I drew in my head (I’m an architect, and was thinking about a project I was working on) and was turning around, down the chimney came a rabbit, not with a bound, but with part of a pizza box stuck to his fur.

“What sort of gobshite,” he said, “leaves his bins in the dark at the side of his house?”

I stared at him. He was a normal sized rabbit, and between his front paws he carried three Easter eggs, the middle one pinned between the other two, making it look as if he was playing a chocolate accordion.

“You’re … the Easter Bunny?” I stammered.

He nodded, and smiled slightly.

“I thought there was no such thing,” I said, before I could stop myself.

The smile died. “I see,” he said, icily. “And where did you think your kids’ Easter eggs came from?”

“I never really thought about it,” I said. “I just wake up on Easter Sunday and they’re there. I always assumed Mamma had bought them and left them out.” (I later discovered that Mamma thought that I’d been doing it).

The Easter Bunny’s eyes narrowed. “Your wife’s name is Mamma?” he said.

I blushed. “Her name’s Mia,” I said, “and she loves Abba.”

It’s hard to describe how small you feel when a rabbit gives you a look of scorn. He dumped the eggs onto the hearth and turned back towards the chimney.

“Look,” I said, “I’m sorry I didn’t believe in you before.”

He turned back quickly.

“No,” he snapped, “but you believe in him, don’t you?”

“Him?” I asked.

“You know who I mean,” said the Easter Bunny. “Everyone believes in him. Everyone thinks he’s great.”

“Well, he is,” I said. “He delivers toys to all the children, all in one night.”

“Indeed he does,” said the Easter Bunny. “On his magic sleigh, pulled by reindeer. I deliver eggs to all the children, also all in one night, but on foot.”

“How do you manage that?” I asked, impressed.

“I’m a very fast runner,” he said. “That’s what we’re famous for, us rabbits.”

“I thought that was hares,” I said.

“Oh, our slowcoach cousins,” he said witheringly. “Tell me, have you ever heard the tale of the rabbit being beaten by the tortoise?”

“Er, no,” I replied.

“Exactly,” he said.

“Do you have elves like him, working all year to make all the eggs?”

“The wife and kids help me,” he said. “We started last Tuesday.”

“Wow,” I said. “That’s incredible.”

“Not really,” he said. “I have forty-two thousand three hundred and ninety-two kids.” I stared at him. “That’s the other thing we’re famous for,” he admitted.

“So you get the whole thing done in a week?”

“Yes” he said. “And yet I get no recognition for it. No-one writes songs about me coming to town. No-one leaves out a glass of sherry and a lettuce leaf for me. No-one writes me letters, telling me what they want for Easter.”

“Not much point,” I said. “They’d all just say “Eggs”.”

“True,” he admitted. He sighed, long and deep, the sigh of someone who has been toiling for a very, very long time. I felt sorry for him.

“If it makes you feel any better,” I said, “I think you’re doing a great job.”

He gave a small smile, then turned towards the hearth. Yet again, though, he paused, and turned. He held another Easter Egg in his paw. I have no idea where it came from, and have resolved never to think too deeply about it. He handed it to me.

“Here,” he said. “This one is for you.”

“Thanks,” I said, touched.

He laid a paw alongside his nose and, giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

“Happy Easter to all,” I said softly, “and to all a Good Night.”

His head appeared back into view, upside down.

“Ho, ho, bloody ho,” he said.






How I Wonder What You Are

They called it the Star in the East.

Every year, at the same time of the year, it became visible in the sky above Xjrui.

Some said it was just the sun reflecting off another planet in their Solar System. Some said that it was a comet, admittedly one with an especially accurate internal timepiece. Some said it was just one of their own radio satellites, long since de-commissioned but still broadcasting the Xjruian equivalent of Celine Dion out into the vastness of space.

Others claimed that it was aliens watching them, the government watching them, or aliens and the government watching them.

Some believed that it stood directly above a place where something special had once happened.

Whatever it was, it guided sailors to safety, helped travellers across vast expanses of desert, boosted the sales of telescopes. All in all it was a good thing.

So Xjruians began to celebrate its coming. They made little star designs and hung them in their houses. Others made bigger star designs and hung them outside their houses. And, because the Xjruians are just as dumbly competitive as we are, neighbours set out to out-do neighbours until huge expanses of the planet were lit up every year, at the same time of the year, as brightly as this:


On the planet Zemejs, they called it the Star in the East….

But Inside It’s Quite Delightful

Sidey‘s Weekend Theme is “decorate”….


The Christmas tree had arrived tightly tied and even more tightly shrink-wrapped so getting it in had been no problem. It was now two weeks later and, just as the clothes that you bring on holiday expand until they will not fit into the suitcase for the trip home, the tree had stretched its limbs and was now far too wide for them to get it back out. They couldn’t get it up the spiral steps and in any case it would never fit through the hatch at the top.

There was no way of getting the tree out of the submarine.

The idea of having a Christmas tree on the USS Regardless (there’s been a documentary, Carry On Regardless, made about it) came from Seaman Webb, a new and young recruit whose love of the sea was bettered only by his love of all things Christmas. If’d he’d had his way, snorted Petty Officer Crowe, he’d have had lights all over the outside of the hull and Santa climbing the conning tower on a ladder. The word Petty described Officer Crowe fairly well.

Commander Craig, always anxious to improve crew morale, had agreed to Webb’s request, and so for a fortnight there had been tinsel draped over every computer, fake snow in the galley and some badly placed holly in the toilet.

Craig had drawn the line at mistletoe. Sailors get enough slagging as it is.

All in all the decorations had been a success, apart from the time that the submarine had banked sideways to avoid an outcrop of rock causing a load of balls, in the polite sense of that phrase, to fall from the tree and bounce noisily about the floors, and the time that Webb, in an attempt to keep the pine needles moist, had sprayed the tree lightly with water from an after-shave bottle while the lights were plugged in and give a short electric shock to every crew member standing on the metal floor, as well as causing a glitch on every screen which made them seem to show that the sub was about to be attacked by a giant mackerel.

But now Christmas was over, the decorations had come down and all that remained was the indisposable tree. There may be those of you thinking that all they had to do was saw it up, but they did not in fact have a saw, since in a small tin tube made entirely of metal there is surprisingly little use for one. The tree remained for a week after the rest of the decorations, getting in the way and causing the crunch of underfoot pine-needles to echo eerily around the enclosed space. Eventually Craig sighed.

“Put in into a torpedo-tube,” he said.

The tree was loaded base first into the tube in a spray of needles and snapping twigs. It needed to be forced right to the end of the tube and Commander Craig was horrified to find Webb doing this with an actual torpedo. Eventually the tube was loaded, the button was pressed and the tree sped through the sea. With no target there was nothing stop it and eventually it bounced at speed up a beach, causing a flock to cormorants to flee in a flurry of wings and involuntary guano. It hit and demolished a statue (leaving just two vast and trunkless legs of stone) and eventually slammed into another statue against which it propped itself, its base sinking into the soil.

Mother Nature intends all things to grow, so roots eventually snaked from the bottom of the tree, the pine needles returned and the tree once again stood proud and alive.

And that is why there is a Christmas Tree on Easter Island.

Tis The Night Before..

… well, the morning before, anyway.

As a child born in mid-December it always irritated me when well-meaning but dim adults asking me what Santy was bringing me when I hadn’t even had my birthday presents yet.

What I thought whenever I was given one present to cover both involved words that a child my age really shouldn’t have known.

Anyway, with two November-born children as well as myself in the Tinhouse I have made it a rule (I wear the trousers in this house) that Christmas is not to be mentioned until after the three birthdays have past, and there are to be no decorations until after the final one, my own birthday on the 13th.

I came home from work on the 14th to find all of the decorations up. I suspect that they started when I went to bed the night before.

We have had a lovely, though fake, tree for many years. Tingirl’s wish for a real one was always satisfied by putting a tiny one, with its own little lights on the table outside her bedroom door. This year, however, she wanted a proper, full-sized real one and was backed in this by Tinson2. Mrs Tin stayed out of the discussion while Tinson1 and I firmly insisted on using the fake one.

So this is a photo of our real tree:

I wear the trousers in this house, but my family decide what colour they will be.

We also have a real, shop-bought crib

With a small statue of another God beside it to prove that a multi-denominational, or perhaps mixed-up, family we are.

But these are not important. A far better, and more loved, crib is this one:

And our favourite ornaments are these:

and this:

and our Christmas Tree fairy:

and finally this, which I love because I have no idea what it’s supposed to be:

We can’t remember which child made which decoration, but it doesn’t matter. They are part of each Christmas now, just as is the tradition that this evening we will all gather in Tingirl’s bedroom, that I will read “the Night Before Christmas” and that all of us will join in for the final “Happy Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night”.

And Happy Christmas to all of you. Thank you all for coming here and reading, and caring, and supporting. I think of you all as my friends and I wish all the best for the coming days to you all.


Tin x

Free At Last

I’m on holiday!!!!

My week of 13-hour days is over. I didn’t mind doing it because of the circumstances that caused it, indeed sometimes I even felt a great buzz while I was doing it, but there is no doubt that something like that does take its toll.

This was most clearly evident in the morning that I got up at 4.20 because I couldn’t sleep. I then, of course, wrote a post that I hope that you found enjoyable, or at least coherent. I genuinely cannot remember one word of what I wrote and have decided never to read it, I am going to leave it there as an example of what happens when some idiot gets out of a warm bed (even if he can’t sleep, the important word there is ‘warm’) in the middle of the night to sit in a freezing kitchen and spout gibberish at the universe.

Anyway, I’m off now until January 2nd. There will be blogging, there will be reading, there will be TV watching. Or there may just be ten days of coma-like sleeping, which will be just as good.

My only remaining problem is present shopping, which I have done very little. I did do some of it online, and it was while I was doing this that I looked at the City Deals website of which I am a member, which daily offers large discounts, for one day only, on a wide and unrelated range of products and services.

So, for just fourteen euro and ninety-five cent (at current rates about a nickel, or two pence) I bought two 25kg bags of rock salt for keeping my driveway clear of ice.

As the teenage daughter of a friend of ours said recently (and we have all taken to saying ever since), “what the festive f**k?”.

I didn’t really picture just how much 50kg of salt was going to be. I could now de-ice the main runway at Heathrow and still have enough salt over to put on a bag of chips on the way home.

If not only Lot’s wife but his family, his household pets and the entire football team that he supported (Sodom United, you don’t want to let them get in behind your defence) had been turned into pillars he still wouldn’t have had as much salt as I have now.

It is worth it, though, if only on the principle that if you bring an umbrella to work it will not rain.

I reckon we’re in for mild winters here for a least the next fifty years.

He’s Leaving Home

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “A Christmas Story”. I do a story each Christmas Day (and am currently struggling my way through this year’s), but here is a short one…

He had never seen his Dad so nervous, fussing over him as he prepared to leave.
“Make sure to wrap up warm,” said Dad.
“Dad, it’s near the equator down there,” he said, “I won’t even need a coat.”
“No, I suppose not,” said Dad. “It’s just because it’s December, I wasn’t really thinking. What are you going to do for money?”
“Oh, I’ll find a job,” he said. “Some sort of trade, perhaps.”
“And, er, about girls…” began Dad.
He smiled. His Dad knew pretty well everything about everything, except women. He was not alone among Dads in this. “Are you seriously going to give me the “birds and the bees” speech?”
Dad grinned too, his old, old face wrinkling as he did so. “I suppose you reckon you know it all. The younger generation always do.”
“Don’t worry, Dad,” he said. “I’ll behave myself.”
Dad smiled again. “That’s my boy,” he said.
They heard a blaring sound, like a fanfare of trumpets, or a taxi with a really tacky car-horn. “Guess I’d better be off, then,” he said.
They hugged, in the awkward way that men have.
“Look after your mother,” said Dad.
“Of course I will,” said Jesus. He shrunk to the size of a tiny baby, yet with a look of infinite wisdom in his eyes, then vanished.
“Goodbye, Son,” said God softly. “Christmas won’t be the same here without you.”