It’s probably a personal thing, and perhaps it was ever thus, but there doesn’t appear to be much happening this Christmas. Okay, there’s a lot of rain falling – or threatened – in Cumbria, some elderly gentleman has accidentally put his car through a Costas coffee house window in Westerham causing a fatality and multiple injuries and there’s a lot of speculation about the potential fates of various soccer managers and teams at the midway point of the Premier League season, but that’s about it – or so it seems – until the holiday sporting programme begins in earnest tomorrow (Boxing Day).
The newspaper websites have barely changed day-to-day this week.
As ever the television schedules are stuffed-full with popular light entertainment programmes featuring a festive theme, most of them probably pre-recorded many months ago, and a surfeit of much-loved classic movies but even the latter lose their lustre in their frequency.
Surveying the world from my study with the television on in the background I welcomed the commencement of BBC1’s post-lunch Indiana Jones season earlier this week and watched the bulk of the first offering. However, by Wednesday (and the third in the series), whilst still admiring the production values and invention of Spielberg’s superbly-crafted movies, I was beginning to tire of Indiana’s relentless adventure action in avoiding ancient spells, falling rocks, spiders’ webs, cardboard cut-out Nazi archaeological trophy-hunters and endless cartoon-style violence, all accompanied by the ubiquitous Raider’s March theme composed by legendary movie composer John Williams. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that, for best effect, one Indy movie per week is quite sufficient.
Yesterday in similar vein, as I was leaving late morning to attend a family lunch in Oxford, Gone With The Wind (1939) was about an hour and a half in, playing on the box in the corner of my front room; then, as I staggered back in through the door at about 4.45pm, Richard Todd (as Wing Commander Guy Gibson) and his resolutely brave men of 617 Squadron were also turning for home after dropping their bouncing bombs in The Dam Busters (1954).
Having removed my glad-rags, donned my play-clothes uniform of black jeans, loafers T-shirt and windcheater and relaxed into the evening with my share of a bottle of Follador Prosecco Superiore [Waitrose, £14.95], a puff of a Henry Winterman Café Crème Finos small cigar and a plate-load of dates, hazelnuts & pumpkin seeded ‘toast for cheese’ [The Fine Cheese Co, price unknown] and Pont L’Évéque soft cheese, I settled back in my armchair to watch the evening television fare.
I thereby inadvertently caught the last half hour of Harry Hill In Professor Branestawm Returns (unexpectedly enjoyable and with a star-studded cast featuring Diana Rigg), the BBC’s national and local news bulletins, Celebrity Mastermind, Pointless Celebrities Christmas Special (a certain irony or Freudian slip there [‘Pointless Celebrities’ indeed!], I felt – perhaps it might better have been called Pointless’s Celebrity Christmas Special), Would I Lie To You? At Christmas and finally, at 8.30pm, Eastenders.
Absolute tat, the lot of it.
The clincher was Eastenders, the BBC soap opera which I normally only ever watch parts of whilst waiting for something else to come on. Tired, clichéd, devoid of interesting characters and full of depressingly negative and/or incomprehensible storylines you would naturally expect, of course, but last night – in a nod to the time of year – it was also overlaid with festive connotations.
I had been intending to hang on to watch the start of Peter Kay: 20 Years Of Funny at 9.00pm – Kay is one of my favourite stand-up comedians/comic actors – but halfway through Eastenders I saw no option but to lift the zapper in order to ‘record’ it instead … and then gratefully waddled along the corridor to bed.
The only novelty of yesterday arose in the presence of a rather handsome tabby cat, gender as yet unconfirmed, who seems to have adopted us. For the past two or three weeks he has materialised occasionally out of the blue by walking in through the terrace door to the garden.
Yesterday upon my return from Oxford I was updated about his latest appearance which had caused my concerned other half to try and contain him within a cardboard box in order to rush him to the vets that operates from the back of the Sainsburys supermarket before it closed for the day at 5.00pm – the intention being to have established whether he had been ‘tagged’ with a microchip so that his true owners could be identified. He wasn’t having it and immediately escaped from the back of the box, out into the garden and away.
Ten minutes later, during Professor Branestawm, I was flicking through the television guide in a quest to find something to watch when I looked up … and said feline was sitting, smugly, between two pillows on the sofa to my left and staring at me as if he was the owner of the gaff and I was just an unwanted, or unintroduced, guest.
The lady of the house immediately went into motherly pet-lover mode, opening a tin of tuna and providing a tiny bowl of water, billing and cooing over him and asking if we could adopt him. I like animals generally, but I am a dog – not a cat – man.
Thereafter the three of us sat and watched the aforementioned television fare together, that is, until at about 7.15pm, when Herbert (the provisional name we had given him) made it known that he wished to go out … and did so, never to return.
My hunch is he knew his owner was going to be serving his evening meal at 8.00pm (as usual) and he had merely popped round to our place to kill time before going home for supper.