About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Friday 16 December 2011

WEEK 50--Buying a Christmas Tree

Well, fancy getting to the age of 50 without ever buying a Christmas tree.  I mention my age quite unashamedly, in an attempt to lure you into saying 'You never are!'  That is the correct liturgical response whenever a lady mentions how old she is.  Be careful not to overdo it though chaps, or it becomes patronising.   I was hailed thus by a youth selling programmes at the theatre last night: 'Evening, gorgeous!'.  Later my older son suggested I respond: 'Evening, smarmy!'  But the moment was long gone.

The buying of Christmas trees is an area of modern life that is still subject to the unwritten rules of patriarchy.  Like the vulcanising of meat on a barbecue, it is something men do.  My father always bought our tree while I was growing up, and so, I realise, the chancellor is the chief tree-buyer in our household.  I go merely go along in an advisory position, and tell him which tree to buy.

This year, in keeping with my New Year's resolution, I decided to go it alone.  I am 50 years old (Why, thank you, you old flatterer!) and I can surely buy my own Christmas tree without male help.  But then at the last minute I decided to take my older son along to handle the manual labour side of things.  He's good company and I've missed him while he's been up at university.  We drove to the cheap Christmas tree outlet at a Farm Shop in Walsall.  This is only cheap if you forget to factor in the petrol.  And if--here's the thing--they haven't sold out of trees.  Apparently there was a rush.  Loads of people have all suddenly decided to buy a tree in mid-December to decorate their house.  It's some sort of festive custom in the UK, it emerges.

So back to Lichfield and off to the Plant Plot.  'We'll just buy one and pretend we don't care how much it costs,' I said.  But flip! (as we say when the chancellor is listening)  SEVENTY QUID?!  'I'll go and do a strip tease for the woman, and you sneak out with the tree,' suggested my son.  'That way we'll probably make money, because she'll pay me.'  But then we noticed that it was only these new-fangled non-shedding blue spruces that are so expensive.  Your old-fashioned traditional Norway spruces were less than half the price.  So that's what we got.  £24 well spent.  And so long as nobody touches it or sneezes within three yards of it, the needles will probably stay attached till the twelfth day of Christmas.  And then it's next year's kindling.


  1. Very tasteful!
    Sending The Man to get ours tomorrow. I belong to the "Bah! Humbuggery" school of Christmas, me, and if he want the house decorated he jolly well does it...(but I sneak in new decorations each year...this year its orange and cinnamon stick thingys which smell gorgeous and really seasonal...)

  2. Now that you have the tree it is safe to wish you and family a very Happy Christmas. Christine assembled our 4' artificial tree this week. The size was a shock as the 200 lights and 50 or so baubles had led me to think that it would be at least 10'.

  3. It's always been my job to buy the tree but this year a friend invited us to go and chose a tree from the hundred or so she has in her field. It was a firm 'over to you' and a spade handed to my husband.