Thursday, December 6, 2012

The weather outside is frightful...

Today I walked up High Street in the rain whistling Let It Snow, while I dodged awnings to ensure maximum exposure. As soon as the rain became torrential, I came alive (no mean feat after an interrupted night's sleep and hayfever that has developed into a sinus infection, plus an early visit from Aunt Flo because, in last week's distraction, I accidentally started on the sugar pills six days early), and went racing out into Freyberg Square to be one with the elements and bask (in both the rain and, subsequently, bewildered looks of the pedestrians huddled against shops on the other side of the street, waiting for a reprieve so they could carry on, and wondering where my minder was). There is something so festive about proper December rain; when the air is hot and humid, and the rain cool and fresh. It's like confetti, and I don't mind looking a few bottles short of a crate while enjoying it. However, I probably could have thought about the consequences of a rain-dance when one still has two hours of work to get through in sodden clothes and hair so wet it drips onto the counter while one wraps presents and tries to distract people by telling funny stories, except that sleep deprivation means the stories don't exactly make sense. The consequences are spending the evening on the couch with body-aches, blocked sinuses, and a slight fever. Although who is to say those things wouldn't have happened anyway; I did already have the sinus infection.

At work I have been gorging on Christmas cake, made by my loving boss and packed full of cranberries, and nuts, and candied orange, and ginger. Growing up, Mum always made what looked like about ten Christmas cakes every year, both for us and to give away as presents. I can remember the square tins - always square, or rectangular, with butter-paper sticking up the sides, and the spicy smell, and how stiff and ivory the mixture looked. It was always late at night; my mother does everything late at night. I was never particularly interested in Christmas cake - maraschino cherries are one of childhood's disappointments, except for one Christmas as my aunt's house when no-one had noticed how full of port the cake was, nor how much brandy (or sherry?) had been put in the custard, nor how much my cousin and I were putting away in the little basement apartment. It was Diana and the raspberry cordial all over again... I doubt we got drunk, but I do know neither Christmas cake nor custard have ever tasted that good.

My first memory of drinking alcohol was Christmas day, when I was about six or seven. I don't remember where everybody had gone, but the dining table was set - I don't remember whether or not we had eaten, and nobody was in the room. The plates were white, and so was the tablecloth. The adults' places had little glasses of port which I had been eyeing up; they looked like the wine version of a child's tea-set, and when everyone was gone, I went around the table knocking back what was in the glasses. I don't remember if they were full, or half-full, or barely full at all, but I do remember the indescribable, sweet taste, and how wonderful it was. From such innocent beginnings...

I don't think anyone marries Let It Snow to drinking better than Dean Martin. So listen here, while you marvel at these socks...

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