Groundhog Day feeling to Christmas presents

IT is the same every year. I should just have a standing order in with the shops, to be collected on December 24.

1 box Turkish Delight (rose and lemon flavour)

1 pair slippers (pref fluffy)

1 pair silver earrings (dangly)

1 scarf (long)


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1 bottle perfume (not too floral)

And that, dear reader, is Small But Fierce of Ipswich’s festive treat. Very, very occasionally something a bit left-field will slip in - I seem to remember an orang-utan one year - but usually that’s that.

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I blame Christmas list syndrome; each year begins with the promise of fresh ideas and thoughts but ends up the same.

In my family many years ago we had a standing joke whereby we’d all suggest ideas for gifts to help others out and my dear old dad would put things like ‘cheese’ or ‘fruit knife’ or ‘blotter’ on his. Should have got them for him; that woulda larned ‘im, as Norfolkers would say.

Trouble is, SBF is a woman of simple pleasures and needs. A bottle of something red and cheerfully cheap, a handful of Maltesers or a couple of Terry’s Chocolate Orange segments and she’s as happy as you like.

Actually, having thought about it, she is getting a spanking new kitchen this Christmas. (Never mind any sexual stereotyping - this is her space. She told me.)

It is all coming along nicely, thanks to Phil and his chum Steve. Cabinets are assembled, as I write the ceremonial plumbing in of the sink is under way and worktops are laid in place. SBF is getting excited by the progress and I am getting excited about the prospect of being able to eat properly again.

The other great excitement in our corner of the ghetto is that we have a real fire now. The builder johnnies have created a fireproof cavern, which would have been awesome had it been square, but you can’t have everything and if you ignore that it looks well fine.

We’ve managed a couple of small conflagrations which, even in the current stone-crackingly bitter cold weather, have managed to make the lounge stupefyingly hot. But there are moments when life seems all the better for the simple pleasure of sitting companionably on the old sofa with a whisky mac in hand, gazing into the sputtering embers.

The hound has yet again betrayed his race, this time by ignoring the chance to lie inches from the flames and hog all the heat, preferring to look suspiciously at it from a far corner. I mean what dog does that?

All his predecessors spent at least part of their winters smouldering or indeed slightly on fire, thanks to excessive proximity to the coals. Perhaps he’ll twig on soon.

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