I love my bed!  Thing is, nightly, I have this aversion to getting into it.  Why is that?  Why is it that one is either a morning person or a night owl?  I think it is inherent; one’s body clock is programmed in the womb, perhaps, logically, by that of one’s mother.  For me, that would make total sense as my mother was always the last to retire.  Not that she wasn’t up early, more that she seemed to relish the peace offered when everyone else had gone to bed.  It was her time to think and reflect.  I am exactly the same, as are Becca and Manny.  Never one for early mornings, once my feet hit the floor, I am absolutely fine.  However, to this day, I still remember how much I hated waking the children from a deep sleep on a dark, winter’s morning – to go to school!  Not natural.  Back to the bears …

As the years go by, my bedtime has got later and later but the evening begins at six o’clock, my cue to ‘relax and breathe’.  A renowned yardarm for that glass of wine or gin and tonic, over the past seven years, to me, it represents the close of play for the day guaranteeing no more left-of-field emails or phonecalls from lawyers or accountants!  Thank Godfor that – and how sad is that?  Anyway, not one to eat early, I suppose it pushes the whole evening back.  Often, by 10pm, I might doze off on the couch convinced that I shall have an early night but … I never do.  I always have a second wind and where, once, my cut-off time was 11.30pm, now it has crept up to 1.30am!  As Manny said to me, today, he craves/needs ‘me’ time and going to bed just brings tomorrow more quickly.  Exactly!  That being said, the minute I climb into that cosy bed, head back on the pillows and book open, I am in heaven and every night I question why I stayed up so late.

I was born a ‘head on the pillow and out’ kind of girl!  I never had any problem getting to sleep.  Secure and happy, I was lucky and I had no reason to believe that would ever change.  Children of my own, however – well, Becca – ensured that I would never sleep soundly again and that was before Wilbur – my third ‘child’ impersonating a Clumber Spaniel!  He suffered from Colitis and, throughout his life, would often need out in the middle of the night.  Intelligent and proud, he never had an accident, and would pad upstairs and put his head round the door to beckon me if I hadn’t already heard him moving about.  I didn’t mind.  Many a night I spent up and down every ten minutes, outside in my dressing gown with a wet sponge – don’t ask!  So, no more ‘head on the pillow’ for me.  Instead, 2am is my new cut-off time as I lose myself in my book for half an hour, escaping daily woes in the pursuit of sweet dreams.  My batteries may be running on empty with no mention of beauty sleep but I think the term is ‘lost cause’.

If it were possible to demand a refund for the week that has just gone, that receipt would definitely be forthcoming!  It really is winter but that shouldn’t be a surprise.  Long dark days and horrendous weather, most tired and miserable facing the enforced jollity – and panic – of the festive season.  As ever, I feel as though I am in one of those old westerns standing by the side of the rail track watching the train go by, rooted to the spot – complete with chaps, cowboy hat and horse, obviously!  Is that a weird analogy?  I mean, I know Christmas is coming.  Who wouldn’t?  The shops have been full of it since September but even a deep-rooted reluctance to be buried beneath the blanket of tacky commercialism is not reason enough to renege on tradition.  Cards must still be hand-written and sent but how to choose?

At the start of the last paragraph, I had every intention of recounting the woes of my beloved car and my continued, costly, attempts to inject life into the rapidly corroding embers of a sixteen year-old jeep.  Yes, emotional rather than practical, it may be – I prefer to call it loyal, myself – but the traumas of my week, apropos said jeep, have been superseded by the topical subject matter of the Christmas card.  Truly revealing, one’s choice of card must not/should not be made frivolously.  Firstly, afford one’s friends/recipients some respect.  The words Tesco or Marks & Spencer on the back smack of disregard – as does the address label!  Time and effort cost but so, too, does postage and why boost the coffers of these bastions of commercialism when there is the opportunity to support a chosen charity and validate the expense?  There is no excuse.  The first thing I do – and have always done – on opening our cards, is check the source.  A charity chosen is personal to the sender.  So, too, is the mark of a large supermarket …

I still smile when I think of Christmas at Lyndhurst.  There were traditions forever adhered to and one such tradition was the inspecting of the sitting room mantlepiece and the positioning of the cards!  My mother never waivered.  Afforded pride of place in the centre was always that of Aunty Molly, her sister.  Usually a National Trust card, there was no negotiating.  Next, was that of my sister – the eldest and, forever, a ‘wannabe’ Aunty Molly!  Frequently in support of an equine charity, sometimes this could be religious reflecting new-found acclaim in ‘the village’ church.  Regardless, it was next in line.  That of my brother?  Sometimes not large enough or sufficiently country but …  Ours?  In support of the Born Free Foundation, it was deserving of the mantlepiece, at least.  Suffice to say, that mantlepiece was always my first port of call on arrival – pre-wine! – and the card display suitably doctored.  Expected, always executed and forever remembered …

Back to now.  A week of revelations, one learnt that Jeremy Corbyn is oblivious to the Queen’s Speech!  Called out by Julia Etchingham, he muttered something about the television being on in the morning to the embarrassment of the Nation, let alone himself.  Ignorant in the extreme, whether or not he chooses to watch it, general knowledge demands that one is aware of the sacrosanct 3pm time slot of the Monarch’s annual appraisal.  Future Prime Minister?  In his dreams.

Then there was the astonishing revelation that not all contestants in I’m a Celebrity knew where they were!  Where is Australia on the world map?  Canada?  South America?  Proving, once more, that education is no prerequisite in the pursuit of millions …  Very confusing for those little green men!

What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.’

Phyllis Diller

Somewhere, the true meaning of Christmas and tradition prevails … I think I might just know where.

This is Trish, signing off.