Cheltenham
The Cheltonian > Articles

The Pigeon

A little bird tells me...

There’s no doubt it’s coming. There’s no argument about it. It will be with us soon and all of us will be affected by it. Short of donning a fez, and catching the first Ryanair flight to Mecca Land we have no escape route.

In approximately 12 weeks, or if it sounds further away, 90 days, the commercial dread of Christmas will be upon us. Writing cards, sorting budgets, worrying over presents –will be very much part of the season of goodwill and kind thoughts.

“Are we spending too much, on gin sodden Aunt Nelly? -What did she give us last year? Oh that book on knitting jumpers, I think it was called ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’.” Simple then, send her that Indian book, ‘Karma Sutra’ I think it’s full of curry recipes – she loves cooking “

Her – “What shall we get for the Xmas Day meal, Chicken? Goose? Duck? Beef? Lamb? Pork? Pheasant? Pigeon? (Heaven Forbid) Swan? Salmon? Tuna? Shark?”

Him – “Well Darling what do our African brothers have for their Christmas Treat?

Her – “Ground Cassia plant with a rich gravy of crushed beetle juice”

Him – “Well Darling, let’s have that for a change – save making all those bloody sauces and leaves more time for the Champers -What Ho!”

Her – “Well we’d better get in a hand of pork, a side of beef plus a bucket of Gloucester Old Spot sausages and two dozen pork pies in case we have unexpected guests on Christmas or Boxing Day”

No one has unexpected guests calling those two days, everybody is tucked away in smothering domestic bliss, seated TV agog, knee deep in multi-coloured gift wrappings, stuffing their faces like ‘Little Jack Horner’, with exotic dates, weight adding chocolates and dishes of peeled walnuts, greedily awaiting dinner, all oblivious to the outside world. Just try strolling out on Christmas or Boxing Day the world is dead. Maybe a scurrying dog walker, the odd tramp in the park, or a sad atheist looking for somewhere open - at best a child flying his first kite.

Yet Christmas could be so simple. Do we need to give greeting cards to colleagues, next door neighbours, folk and friends we see daily? Just yell ‘Happy Christmas’- think of the money you save on postage with stamps nearly half a quid, cheaper to email- and you know it’s got there!

Avoid offers to meet for festive Drinky Poo’s. They are boring and financially crippling. The flamboyant bar-side offer of ‘What Will You Have’? can add up to the deposit on a Lamborghini.

Better to buy your own bottle from Slurp and Save, and stay home with cosy Radio Four – end up with money in your pocket and a clear head next morning. Much more sensible, plus you'll have avoided entanglement with the normally demure typing pool lady - who never says boo-to-a-goose – but after two sherry’s and a pint of Scrumpy - could take on the female role in, ‘Play Misty For Me’. Oh Dear, where have the Christmases I knew as a young pigeon gone, when roast chicken was an annual treat. My Christmas stocking filled with a Mars bar, apple, orange and with luck a Beano comic. The Front Room fire lit, (special treat) with greeting cards draped over lengths of string. The dining room sideboard bedecked with bottles of Sherry, Egg Flip, and Sparking Cider. Chestnuts ready to roast in the hearth, the wireless tuned to ‘Dick Barton Special Agent, or ‘Wilfred Pickles or Tommy Handley. My father’s brother, a snoozing uncle in the sofa. That was Christmas.

To relive the flavour of such festive seasons of long gone, try listening to a reading of Dylan Thomas’s ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ – it brings everything back to earth. Do Have a Very Pleasant Christmas and Happy New Year, Yours, The Pigeon.

Pigeon Footnote. A few years ago as a young Pigeon, I tried to escape from Christmas commercial, so flew off to the Muslim Land of Morocco. Lovely sunshine, different culture, pleasant natives, delightful oriental menus. No sign of Christmas. Making a journey to Agadir beach, my heart sank as I set eyes on an image in a café window – a crude cardboard cut out of Santa Claus, followed by other images depicting streamers, Christmas crackers and Christmas puddings. All aimed to pull in trade for – Christmas Lunch – Moroccan style – but the warm sun, sand and sea did little to excite the appetite for Roast Dindi –Moroccan for TURKEY.