To start off with, a very Happy Christmas to all Battleaxe readers. It strikes me that these posts have been a bit gloomy for the past few weeks… not surprising, but let’s move on. This is a very quick effort, on Christmas Eve, before the festivities begin. Battleaxe has had a quiet-ish week – some nice times spent with friends and neighbours, a little burst of therapeutic writing, and a quick Google search to find some jolly vintage Christmas images.
Given the small size, geographically scattered and exceptionally deracinated nature of our family, Battleaxe and Philosopher have had to become accustomed to quiet Christmasses. This year we have friends Jan and Tom coming for Christmas Day lunch, and Shaun coming down for a few days. We’ve also had visits from various friends, been out and about etc. This has necessitated blitz of house tidying, putting up decorations etc etc.
What writing have I been doing? Well, when Battleaxe feels low, she finds it helps to get fired up about something. This time, I was happily distracted by some of the Downing Street party nonsense – in particular, the infamous Guardian photo that showed some sort of unsuitable garden gathering. There was endless speculation and the usual lying prevarication from our Deah Leaders. Was it a party, was it a work meeting or was it an after-work staff meeting? Who was there, why was Carrie present, was she holding a baby, a cat or was it a dog? There seemed to have been remarkably little attempt, it seemed to me, to set out the essential issues. If it was an after work social gathering, it was contrary to Covid regulations at the time. If it was a work meeting, what on earth were they doing drinking wine? Have they no Alcohol at Work policy?
Battleaxe spent some years back in the 80s working for Aquarius, a drug and alcohol treatment agency in Birmingham. Sounds crazy, but I tell you, working with those drinkers was one of the most enjoyable jobs I ever had. Eventually, and sadly, I was promoted away from working with clients to be their Education Officer, which apart from training counsellors, involved selling services to outside organisations, mostly around alcohol and the workplace. When I left Aquarius I worked for Birmingham City Council, and my first tasks were around drawing up, and implementing, an alcohol policy for all the staff. Oh, the feeling of power it gave one to send a note to all 12,000 of them, saying they couldn’t have an alcoholic drink at Christmas in their workplaces any more! Oh, the stick I got, outed as a ‘killjoy’ in the Birmingham Evening Mail! Given that background, it was the work of a moment to rattle off a letter to the Guardian. To my surprise, they published it.
I have also been busy writing, and then polishing, an entry for a competition – The Sunday Times AA Gill Award for Emerging Food Critics. No, I don’t want to be a food critic, emerging or otherwise. It beats me how they can go out for all those meals and not get hugely fat. Presumably, they only eat a few bites of each course. If it was me, I’d scoff my way through everything and then feel thoroughly ill. Anyway, my piece is all about enjoying fish and chips in Hastings. In the New Year I vow to spend much more time writing, with a real focus on poetry. No longer being a WI Trustee, I will have more time. I was able to get over the horrible unpleasantness of my last meeting a bit quicker because everyone I’ve told about it has just dissolved into hoots of laughter.
Here are a few more vintage 1950s Christmas card pictures. I do like these pin-up ones – these unfortunate young women who get their clothes inconveniently caught on this and that…
But then, in complete contrast, here is an early Victorian card. How creepy is this? What is it about? Anyway, Happy Christmas!