​Is it just me or has a blanket of gloom descended?  Darkness is all around – sounds like the intro to Thriller – as winter tightens its ominous grip.  Dark in the morning, the sun struggles to emit a semblance of daylight as the hours advance, accepting defeat as early as 3.30pm or thereabouts!  Personally, I’d rather be a bear and hibernate for the months which lie ahead.  I could catch up on my sleep and lose weight in one fell swoop and then there’s the money I would save … win, win!  Once more, the animal kingdom, in tune with nature, proves supreme –  know any bears suffering from SAD?  Even the wild geese bugger off! 
Here we are, though, once more afoot, as I used to say for some reason.  From whom did I pick that up?  No idea.  Anyway, another plus about being a bear – happily in the land of nod underground, I would be spared another year of Edinburgh’s monstrous ‘Christmas’ decorations!  Seriously?  Yes, the silver twigs are back once more but what can be said about that garish, tacky attempt at a Disney castle at the west end of George Street?  Nothing good!  It is gaudy and cheap-looking belying the huge cost in real terms; totally one-end heavy, there is nothing remotely Christmassy about it, not even the colours.  Perhaps more at home amongst the Blackpool illuminations, it demeans a street once proud of its architecture which would have been far more deserving of tasteful, simple fairy lights strung the width and breadth from one end to the other.  Cost, minimum; effect?  Stunning!  In keeping with a city whose historic beauty has been cast aside in favour of a fast buck.  All hail the drinking culture and the bus loads of hen and stag parties which descend every weekend continuing  Edinburgh’s downward spiral.  Forget Neverland, now there is a suitably trashy ‘castle’  heralding the entrance to Tiger Lily where last year there was that blue spaceship!  If only there was a correlation between money and taste, what a different world this would be …
Christmas.  I suppose these tacky decorations sum it up perfectly.  Effectively, it began before Halloween and I have no doubt that, in the not too distant future, the cards and merchandise will be in the shops before the longest day.  Apparently Christmas Day, itself, is the only designated retail holiday now; just one day to celebrate the birth of Jesus as most stuff themselves courtesy of poor, unsuspecting turkeys and drink themselves into oblivion before heading back to the shops!  Family?  What’s that?  A word consigned to the dictionary.  Enough!  Now, brace oneself for the sales …
Thank God for St Wolfgang, that little village in Austria nestled beneath the snow-covered mountains on the edge of the lake where time has effectively stood still; where traditional fairy lights and decorations abound and little wooden stalls line the market square offering mugs of gluwein and local delicacies and a chance to browse real Christmas gifts to the accompaniment of the brass band dressed, as all locals, in beautiful Austrian attire.  It is what fairytales are made of.  Another world which has remained steadfast to that which is important.  The 11th century church with its beloved steeple is the focal point of Christmas in St Wolfgang which is celebrated on Christmas Eve.  The locals attend Midnight Mass and then congregate in the square listening to the strains of Silent Night, courtesy of the brass band, before dispersing to open gifts with their families.  It is as though we have gate-crashed a private party.  Aware of our presence, however, we are welcome, privileged in the extreme to witness the true meaning of Christmas.  A time for love and family, it is deserving of tradition and respect something, I am confident, St Wolfgang – and Austria – will forever acknowledge.
Closer to home, it’s back to the tacky run-up to Christmas and I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!  Once again, I had no intention of watching it but I was sucked in by the lure of Noel Edmonds and curiosity as to Ant’s stand-in, Holly Willoughby.  What is it about her?  Seemingly possessing of the Midas touch, she is offered millions wherever she goes but … she really annoys me!  I can’t help it.  By all accounts, she is a really nice person but there is just something about her and, quite honestly, she has ensured my viewing of said programme is torturous!  Well, of course, most would say the programme, itself, is torturous but it is so easily addictive and I justify it as a study in human nature.  No?  Whatever. 
It started with the outfits.  Holly appeared with Dec, dressed casually as ever, as though she were going for a night out somewhere very hot i.e. requiring of little material!  Welcome to The Holly Show in which I will endeavour to show as much leg as possible ensuring all attention is focused on me regardless of the fact that the programme is about 12 other people who have volunteered to slum it in the jungle for renewed airtime and a huge fee – oh, and the real star is Dec who is naturally funny and merely highlights that I am not!  Perhaps a little harsh.  She did improve but she was most definitely fixated on her appearance and if she stuck that leg forward one more time …  Suffice to say, her stylist should have been shot!  Holly had no need for these ridiculous outfits, for which she will be remembered, but rather should have been wearing something appropriate for the jungle – safari-style.  If only she had asked, I would gladly have leant her my wardrobe from Kenya, 2000 when I was pretty much her age – and size?! 
One last thought on the subject of Holly and her legs – sorry, clothes!  In this climate fixated on the Me Too movement, one could be forgiven for assuming that she would rather utilize a public platform of this nature to showcase her talent rather than her attributes.  Bit of an own goal for the independent woman of today who is supposedly striving for an equal footing with her counterpart.
What of Noel Edmonds?  I thought he was superb outshining his campmates in every sense.  Intelligent and humorous, he was a calming influence who saw it for what it was and refused to take any of it too seriously.  Primetime television has missed him but it all came flooding back, Swap Shop, Noel’s House Party and, latterly the inimitable Mr Blobby.  A talented guy and certainly not deserving of being first out!  Ironically, the blame must lie at Harry Redknapp’s door as he, strategically, omitted to choose Noel for his team in the Immunity Games.  Those he chose instead would almost certainly have been the first to go had Harry done the decent and selected his friend.  Strangely, nobody has stated the obvious and Noel continues to sing Harry’s praises.  At the end of the day, I suppose the jungle camp is no more than a microcosm of life on the outside full of people playing the game; outwardly one’s friends but most content to sell one down the river for their own gain. 
Gosh, I feel better for that!  Time for bed as the rain teems against the windows and darkness is all around …  Isn’t that where I came in?  Tomorrow I am off to meet a web designer with a view to expanding my domain.  Keep an eye out for the merchandise – who wouldn’t want to own a t-shirt emblazoned with the words ‘I’ve been trashed by Trish!’?
In need of a quote on which to end, I picked up the first book to hand and Chapter Thirty-Four opens with the following:
‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’
Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan.
Not one out there!  Typical.
This is Trish, signing off.