The last day of April 2021.  First of May tomorrow.  Soon be Christmas!  Actually, that would curtail my necessary search for a tub of the size to house my beautiful golden reindeer and sleigh – which continues to adorn the table, along with the red candles which, too, shall go in the tub.  Reading back over that sentence, I can understand why some of my readers may question my sanity.  He/she in the Ukraine, for example, or those in Hong Kong or Germany.  Sadly,  both my reader in Uganda and that in Azerbaijan have abandoned ship, for now.  I couldn’t possibly have offended …  Family and friends?  Long familiar with my foibles – admittedly exaggerated with the passing years – few have the decency to read my ramblings; furthermore, some are more than happy to own such lack of loyalty!  Manny, of course?  My agent.

Shall I continue with my reindeer?  Suffice to say, it is one of my ‘must haves’, of which I have written before, and, without the existence of which, life would be incredibly more dull!  Rather fond of a shop by the name of Nordic Style – one of which used to be located on Wimbledon High Street – for some years, I have received their emails.  If unfamiliar and wishing to avoid penury, do not look!  Too late for me – or Ethel in that unforgettable 70s ditty, The Streak – I am the proud owner of a magnificent vintage green Gustavian settle (for now, adding a certain je ne sais quoi to one of our two storage containers) and, of course, my reindeer and sleigh.  I tried to resist, I promise, but I knew it had the potential to be a family heirloom, let alone a talking point, and so …  Having befriended Edward, in the Chelsea shop – among others – in the course of the negotiations, my now beloved reindeer was delivered on the Saturday before Christmas in an enormous box suitable for a body!  Yes, yes, it’s not tiny but. it is unique, positively majestic and I loved it/them instantly!  Look at it this way – my way – we couldn’t spend Christmas in Austria so, instead, the table looked amazing as I filled the sleigh with pine cones, baubles, holly and berries.  Fit for royalty and we shall have it always.

That’s the thing about ‘must haves’, each comes with a story.  In fact, as I type at this table – with my reindeer to my right, still awaiting a suitable tub – above me, on the wall, is a beautiful painting of Salzburg which we came across, again, on one of our first trips to Wimbledon.  The thing is, it has become our wont to travel down on the Tuesday of the second week, in time for the Mens’ Quarter Finals on the Wednesday.  Then, we give Thursday a miss – women’s day/Williams sisters – spending it, rather, shopping or going to exhibitions.  Friday?  Back to the AELTC for the Mens’ Semi-Finals.  The best tradition and how we have missed it!

Anyway, my painting …  There is a little antique shop on the High Street, just along from Nordic Style – before it wasn’t!  It must have been nine years ago, now, when we wandered in and I was drawn to the little room through the back.  Fate!  In front of me was a large canvas, unmistakably Salzburg, in hues of green.  Salzburg!  A ‘must have’.  However, I was rather more cautious in these days and, although my heart was dying to buy it, my head said ‘no’ and largely because we were flying home that year.  (Makes me laugh, now, to think what I have clambered onto the plane with, since, on returning from Austria.)  Staying strong, though, sensible head on, I walked out of that shop without my painting and … returning home, immediately phoned the shop – the lady remembered me, for some reason – and she couriered it up to me!  Not one regret.  It holds a special place in my heart, not only for the subject matter but for its story – now framed and in pride of place, I love it!

As ever, it’s the stories.  Funnily enough, it was my mother who told me, always, to bring home a little something as a momento of a special day …

The sun is shining belying the fact that it is, in fact, baltic out there!  Mind you, sunny and crisp – my favourite days.  Prizing myself from my chair, earlier, I thought it prudent to check my limbs with a ‘power walk’ to the top of the road to check the tide – the most stunning of views right across to the sea and St Andrews.  Well, my nose was frozen!  Why is it that my nose is my temperature guage?  It’s not unusually big …

Back to my writing and my notes: Marks?  Reference to my trip to Marks & Spencer on Wednesday.  Of a distinct character – as are all supermarkets, depending on the area – this one, situated in what I call the New Town attached to St Andrews, tends to be full of the older, would-be walking fraternity.  You know, those of the ‘hiking’ boots, North Face fleeces and grey hair?  The type who believes every other human being is a potential death threat preferring to climb in with the lettuces rather than walk past someone in the aisle – not forgetting the unfailing protection of the mask and the double dose of the ‘experimental’ vaccine.  Jolly!  Jolly!  Well, that is until I got to the checkout.  The checkout.  Time to arrange all unnecessary purchases on conveyor belt in very necessary order enabling ease of packing into particular bags ensuring military unpacking at home.  Phew!  Or not!  She just went for it, positively throwing everything down the slope into a rapidly growing pile as I endeavoured to bite my tongue, at least until my bags were packed in my order; in my time!  Is there no consistency of training in this place?  I shall enquire – or I would have enquired had there been someone to whom I could address my enquiry! Honestly.  It’s the simple things … but, then, there’s also the simple people.

As ever, I have several other headings on my list but they will keep.  For now, I must try and ascertain why my laptop has taken it upon itself to put a full stop, randomly, mid-sentence!  Just to annoy me?

Let me end with something of the ridiculous nature courtesy of Gyles Brandreth, this morning.  Apropos a school, deserving of closure henceforth, which proposed banning the use of the terminology boys and girls – and breathe – Gyles told of the erstwhile re-naming of a local pantomime, courtesy of the soon-to-be certified insane: Snow Green & the Seven Persons of Restricted Growth.  On the other hand, could it be that this crazy world has, finally, drained us of humour?  Don’t be ridiculous!  It’s the only thing that’s keeping me sane …

Laughter is the closest distance between two people.’ 

Victor Borge

No less than two metres, please!

This is Trish, signing off.