[Here is Paddy's sixth article for the Newsletter. It appeared in issue number eleven (Christmas 1981).]
It's December again, and how do you find me this chilly month? Well, I'm surrounded by my recent musical instrument projects: bagpipes, Indonesian mouth-harps, and a few ancient Egyptian temple instruments. There are little heaps of crumpled paper scattered over the whole of the floor, they are Christmas lists for Kate. What am I going to get her? I hear some of you shout something like Chocolate Elephants--come now, wouldn't that be a bit predictable? What a dilemma!
I could give her something really, really weird, like a reproduction of a sixteenth-century royal Viennese court tartold, but believe me, even something as crazy as that is still predictable for me. It's not as if it's easy. Kate as you know is a vegetarian so any presents like leather coats, pork chops, etc., are out. I can just see it now...rustle rustle "Ooh look! It's a..." rustle... "cabbage...Oh, thank you." You just can't give vegetarians vegetables for Christmas. The hours tick by, the piles of paper accumulate--maybe a vegetable rack, no she's got one, a carrot knife, a leek mulcher, or why not a turnip-condensing unit? Maybe a computer-aided marrow-stuffer, that might take a little too long to come from Switzerland, and it would sit around unused for months until marrows came back into season.
Hard, isn't it?
What about something to do with dancing? Some shoes, maybe... right...she doesn't wear them--says it doesn't feel natural. Maybe some mirrors--how can I get them down her chimney? Anyway, she's got mirrors when she dances with Gary and Stewart. Did you know that Gary and Stewart have their own dance group now--you must look out for them, they're called The Dance Theatre of London, and are doing shows all over the country and are getting lots of mentions in the press.
Did you see Kate on Desmond Morris's Friday Night and Saturday Morning? Wasn't she great? I could buy her a collection of his books, but as you can guess, she's already read them all. [Morris is a zoologist, and has written numerous books about the behaviour of cats, dogs and other animals.] I know you all think I'm joking, and I'm just making all this up, and what I'm really going to do is go out and buy some sophisticated electronic musical gadgetry like a Digital Real-Time Quantum On-Line H.A.R.P. Ballistic Sequential Processor, but like all these things, there is such a long waiting-list, and of course--she's already got one!
The hands on the clock creep round. I try playing the bagpipes for inspiration--soon the sound of broom handles and other heavy blunt household objects can be heard on the ceiling, floor and walls. I can hear voices crying things like "Are you strangling a cat or something?" and "I can't stand it...argh!" Ah me, it's tough trying to write Christmas lists. So this December the 25th, when you unwrap Santa's parcels to find that he has left you a new dumper-truck or a snake-charming kit, think of me as I try and wrap this giraffe in paper with "Noel Noel" written all over it--Kate likes giraffes and it fits down the chimney a real treat--well, almost. I tried earlier when she was out. Desmond said try the head first, but it isn't quite as easy as he said it would be. Nevertheless I think I have solved my problem of a Christmas surprise for her--just picture her face when she unwraps my lumpy, long, soot-covered parcel...
Well, with this joyous seasonal image in mind, I'll take the opportunity to wish you all the Christmas of a lifetime and a New Year full of geng-gongs and sistrums. And also may I say thanks for reading this very important and serious article. I know some of you study my writings very deeply, looking for cleverly hidden meanings of great relevance and extreme significance, so I hope this little excursion into the pros and cons of ethnic intergenerational corporate celebratory exchange as personified by Quasi-post-Deluvian Romano-Christian followings has been of some interest to you. Hopefully the hardback edition should be available in the coming year, providing our Alaskan publishers aren't snowed under with advance orders.
©1990 Andy Marvick