It’s that grey time of year, that stay under the duvet time between autumn with its romantic golden leaves and winter with its Bing Crosby snow. There’s nothing to like about this time of year – and this year, blimey.
Every time you open the front door it’s like some outtake from a post-apocalyptic “Day After Tomorrow” type film. Turn on the telly and there’s David Attenborough looking at a forlorn polar bear standing on a lump of ice, a lump of ice which was once a block of ice but which would now find employment in a large vodka and tonic.
Turn on the news and somewhere else is under water. Last night on the news there was a story about a town on a small Italian island that had been swept away by a tidal wave of mud created by the most rain since whenever it was that records began. No one knows when records actually began, but it was a long time ago. There’s the cost of living crisis. Recession. Inflation. More rain than there’s rain, all that.
Back in the old days I’d say to My Fine Wife “Come on, let’s just get away” and a couple of hours later we’d be at Gatwick holding a ticket that said “Somewhere sunny”. And in truth there’s a part of me where that impulse still lives. When friends say “Oh we’re off to Morocco”… there’s a part of me that reaches for my new post-Brexit blue passport (which has still got blimmin foreign writing on it – really, was Brexit for nothing?) because here it’s dark and cold and it’s wetter than ever since records began – I mean really, how much rain? – and Morocco’s nice, but I don’t know, you can’t really do that anymore, can you? Can you? No you can’t. Not when there are small Italian towns being swept away.
But it’s tempting, isn’t it. When you’re living in difficult times, what you need is something to cheer you up, something to make you smile, something to fill you with joy, with wonder, with awe. Something that would make you feel life was just better.
That was the train of thought when I turned round and looked at Pickle. Pickle is our new puppy dog, our new 12-year-old rescue, and without wanting to cast doubt on his previous owners, safe to say Pickle’s life has taken a turn for the better.
There are small clues. For example, we take him for walks. To you this may be a small thing, being taken for a walk. But to Pickle, this is a revelation. Similarly, playing with a ball. Not sure Pickle had ever seen a ball before. He still doesn’t quite know what to do with it, but Mum and Dad say it’s fun and that’s good enough for Pickle.
As antidotes to the grey go, Pickle is perfect. How can we sprinkle a bit of Pickle’s joy over the grey? Not by going to Gatwick. Not when there are small Italian towns getting swept away.
But why are we talking about this? We should be talking about Christmas and with due respect to Sam’s column on page 7, we like Christmas. Drinks, chocolates, that song by The Waitresses… Baileys on your cornflakes. Another bottle of Old Spice. Eat, drink and be merry. Or eat, drink and fall asleep. Maybe play charades or that one where you stick a piece of paper on your head and people have to guess who you are. Whatever you do, be more Pickle and have a ball. And remember, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.