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December 2005 - Red Fluffy Slippers

That family along the road from us, of whom I complained in my seasonal outburst almost exactly a year ago, have put their huge, light-up, blow-up Santa out in their front garden again, so I suppose it must be time to sit down and write the 2005 Christmas edition of Comment.

We had a tiny little flurry of snow the other evening, even if it was completely gone by the following lunchtime, so I suppose I ought to be starting to think a little seriously about getting a tiny bit festive.

I couldn't do any shopping in the town centre last Friday because most of the place was closed off for some stupid festival to promote town centre Christmas shopping, so it looks like no presents from Nick to anybody this year.

Bah, humbug and welcome to December's epic ramble from somebody who simply isn't ready for the, ho, ho, ho, Yuletide festivities!

We have a system going on this afternoon, you see.  I'm sat sitting here in one room trying desperately to write some wonderfully witty prose to entertain all you dear viewers out there, while 'er indoors is sat sitting there in the other room, trying desperately to write some witty prose in goodness knows how many hundreds of Christmas cards.

I really think it's time to take an axe to the Christmas card list, you know.  Why do we keep sending the things to all these people we haven't spoken to in real life for over a decade?

Oh yes, madam, you're dead right there, Nick Harvey's in a bad mood.  You've got it in one!

It's just that I'm still trying to be a normal person and do normal things at the moment, you see.  I know everyone else has been complaining for months that Christmas now starts on the day after August Bank Holiday, but I really do have reason to join this particular bandwagon.

I was trying to buy shoes last week, you know.  Ordinary, common or garden shoes, to walk about in, nothing special at all.

Oh no, nothing in my size, in my style, in my colour.  The shoe shop people are just not interested at the moment.   "Come back in the spring, Sir, after we've sold our quota of six hundred pairs of red fluffy slippers decorated with a stuffed Santa who sings Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer every time you insert your big toe into them."

A fat lot of use the red fluffy slippers will be in January, when you need to trudge three miles through the eight foot snow drift to the battery shop because poor old Rudolph's sounding a bit flat.

Or, even worse, when you need to trudge the five miles back from the last remaining, local, corner-shop grocer, with enough supplies to keep you alive until the Sainsburys at Home delivery van restarts its service after the lengthy inclement spell.

I'm almost tempted to the view that, perhaps, we should encourage shops to have Christmas ALL the year round; then they might just realise that they need to provide goods and services OTHER than the festive ones for the people who really DO want sturdy shoes and not fluffy slippers.

So there we are, dear viewers.   I reckon, by now, you might just have picked up a tiny idea of what's going under the Nick Harvey Acme microscope in this month's enthralling edition of Comment.

Sprouts!  Yes, that's exactly what I said, sprouts.  Sprouts have to be the epitome of the removal of normality in the lead up to the festive season, do they not?

Will that lady in the pink cardigan, in the third row, please stop scratching her head and looking totally puzzled.

All will become clear, madam, I guarantee it.  When has Nick Harvey ever let you down and left you still in a state of confusion at the bottom of the page?

I might just leave you in a state of confusion UNTIL the bottom of the page, but that's just my crafty little wheeze to keep you reading right to the bottom, you see.

The longer you stay on this page, the longer clocks up on my viewing figures meter and the more popular I can say I am in my future publicity.  It's like on the front of those free newspapers, I'm looking forward to putting on my front page "Average monthly readership through 2005, twenty-two".

No, now where was I?  Oh, yes, sprouts, wasn't it?  Fancy ending the year with a little digression.  How terribly unusual!

Walk along the vegetable aisle of your local Sainsburys, Tesco, Waitrose or Somerfield and you'll see what I mean.   Mind you, I wouldn't bother with Morrisons.  I don't think those northerners even know the meaning of the phrase "fresh vegetables", that's except when they're talking about their own management.

In any normal week of the year, in any normal vegetable aisle, you'll find carrots, leeks, broccoli, cabbages, onions, parsnips, cauliflower, peas, beans, swedes, spinach and the odd sprout, hidden away at the end of the shelf.

Not at this time of the year, however!  Not in the build up to sprout-tide!

Oh no, wander along that particular aisle this week and you'll find sprouts, sprouts, sprouts, sprouts, sprouts, brussels sprouts, sprouts, sprouts, sprouts and sprouts.

So, if you're perverted enough to want to eat a carrot or some cabbage with your Christmas dinner, you have to buy the bloomin' things back in soddin' September and find some way of keeping them fresh till the day.

It's a bit like the shoes, I suppose.  If you want a really tough pair of yomping shoes, to get you through the worst of the winter's snow drifts, make sure you buy them in the middle of August, when there will be plenty in the shops and plenty of really cheerful assistants to help you choose them and try them on.

Trouble is, you don't remember these things at the right time, do you?  In the middle of August your mind's much more focussed on buying sandals and swimming trunks, not hefty great pairs of shoes.

The Australians have got the right idea, you know.  Move Christmas to the summer.  If we were to do that as well, I'll bet it'd solve all of our problems.

After all, who needs sprouts for Christmas dinner when all you need to do is throw another prawn on the barbecue?  And you'd remember to buy those shoes in August, right in the middle of the freezing winter, wouldn't you?

Someone who might possibly be reading this, a Mr D-S of Queensland, has recently moved half way up the right hand side of Australia, just on that bit that looks out over Great Keppel Island.

I'll have to ask him about the differences between a winter Christmas and a summer one; and whether the entire fish counter over there gets taken over with bloomin' prawns, to the total exclusion of all other water dwelling creatures.

I suppose I could always send him a Christmas card and enclose my question within, couldn't I?  No, a bad idea, that; 'er indoors was only a third of the way through the list, when I politely enquired a little while ago, so I don't think I dare add another name on the end.

I reckon I might just have won this afternoon's match, and almost got to the end of this Comment writing lark for another year, though.

It just leaves me with the necessary tasks of thanking you all for viewing throughout 2005; and wishing you all, dear friends, an incredibly festive Yuletide, and, as I'm sure you'll not be sober enough to read the next one on its actual publication day, January the first, a very happy new year.

Make sure you don't leave it too far into 2006 before you do read the next one, however.  I shall slip off now and assist with that very important task of stamp attachment.  Right, I'm off, where's me slippers?

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