Saturday, December 19, 2020


What is to become of us? Christmas has effectively been cancelled, including cross-border traffic between Scotland and England. Apart from misery to many thousands of others, that strands Helen and David’s son Mungo in London; and James and Cathy’s son Alistair in Falkirk. I think David had already decided not to come back from Thessaloniki for Christmas. I’m feeling rather pleased with myself for having chosen a solitary Christmas a fortnight ago. At least no disappointment today.


There are hints in today’s papers that we should just forget the whole thing and have it at Easter. I had long ago realised that Christmas is no longer a Christian festival, rather a celebration of light returning. Perhaps that’s all it ever was. Even so, the idea of moving it horrifies.


And Archie has just phoned to say he doesn’t think he ought to come in my house any more, although he still could come to supervise my morning walk.


Rachel already has elaborate plans to entertain all of her family, in stages, on Christmas day, in the garden – including, I think, Christmas dinner itself. She and Ed live in the top half of a terraced house, so it will be inconvenient. They have bought a pop-up pagoda (if I’ve got that right) to provide at least some shelter.


And we are planning, again like many thousands of others, a family Zoom quiz. I’ve got to think of three questions. I’ve got two.




I made a good start on the hap last night – 60 rows. It starts with one stitch, and increases by one every row. Obviously, things will slow down. I did a few more rows this morning, while recovering from my Italian lesson, and mean to do some more this evening. Some of you wrote, most kindly, to congratulate me on the colours of the Evendoon (pic yesterday) – I deserve no credit. They’re Kate Davies’ colours (and they are, indeed, good). I’ve just been painting by numbers.


Here are the colours of the hap:


Elaine wrote to me last night and told me what to do about my Apple storage problem: namely, go into iPad settings and delete the apps I never use. And it worked. I am inseparable from my iPad, and feel stressed and anxious when we are in separate rooms. Even so, I was surprised at how many of its apps I actually use. Nevertheless, there were enough others, some with mega-bytes attached, that it made a difference, doing away with them.




There is a good appreciation of John Le Carre in today’s Financial Times. If I understand it rightly, it suggests that “The Honourable Schoolboy” is his masterpiece, and then doesn’t list it in a box on the page giving his five best. Again, “The Little Drummer Girl” doesn’t get much space. It’s the only one with a female protagonist, and the author of the appreciative article doesn’t think that she’s very convincing. She convinces me. But what a compliment to the author to have there be such doubt.


I’m nearly finished with “The Honourable Schoolboy”. I hope the worst of the violence is over.


  1. Like you we had already decided not to do family Christmas this year. The first time ever with just the two of us. I'm quite looking forward to it; a change from the mega scheduling of many a previous year.
    I'm adding my compliments to all the others for your jumper.. so cheerful!

  2. I live in the US and I have been gobsmacked to hear that there were going to be 4-5 days of allowing families to congregate. What were they thinking?! It would have reversed any progress toward slowing this virus. The trouble with politicians is they want to be re-elected and, therefore, do what is popular.
    Stay home, stay safe, wear a mask, be sensible. Enjoy the lights from the comfort of your own chair and drink a cup of cheer. Don’t we all want to be here for next Christmas?

    1. Anonymous4:03 PM

      I agree completely. If we can emerge in spring, like bears blinking in the sunlight, that will be reward enough.
      -- Gretchen (aka stashdragon)

  3. I'd like to hear more about the quiz.

  4. =Tamar5:36 PM

    The family quiz sounds like fun. Perhaps it will spread and become a new custom.

    The whole thing of celebrating the new year has a complex history. The Winter Solstice (northern hemisphere) was a celebration of the return of light. For some centuries the official new year began in March, with the Spring Equinox. I think I like the potential symbolism of equality and a new start. The celebration of the Birth is said to have been moved anciently from Autumn to the Solstice. Who is to say that one can't hold a religious celebration in one's heart, anyway, like saints and hermits in their solitary cells. The celebration of the Family is an ongoing thing, isn't it?

    Merry Solstice to all!

  5. I just don't understand why and how the expression "canceling Christmas" got started. You can never cancel X-mas. Anyone who has ever read or seen Dr. Seuss's The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (the original Chuck Jones adaptation) would know that, but perhaps his work is not as widely known in the UK.