Week before Christmas

It was the week before Christmas and all through the house, there was a frantic search for spare christmas light bulbs, unravelling of garlands, the smell of spicy Christmas biscuits being made. Yes, I've finally got there, took me a while to get into the swing of it, but I got there. There is a kind of momentum that carries you along, part of which is the whole going round the shops, Christmas music thing, which I don't do. Lots of homemade things and ordering online but I do not do the annual slog round the shops. I thought I'd go for an alternative to the Christmas tree this year, let my, not so inner, stylist loose with some branches and some white paint. A big pot to stick them in, some fairy lights for a bit uplighting, a few of my favourite baubles and, hey presto, a very chic looking little arrangement. Which does not drop needles all over the floor. And the paper snowflakes, oh, the floors were covered in a confetti of paper from cutting all of these, but god, how addictive it proved to be! Once I'd started I couldn't stop. Not that I made anything that fancy I just loved doing it. And very effective all strung upin the living room. I blame Pinterest myself. So now I am going to spend the rest of the week doing some cooking and baking, my daughter comes home at the weekend when she and her dad will cover the kitchen in icing sugar and flour making mince pies together, as they have done every year since she was little. I will be back in the New Year. Hope you can join me then, in the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and wishing you all the best for the coming year!

Smut by Alan Bennett

A few months ago my book club read and loved The Uncommon Reader, so we decided to read this new volume of two novellas. Both of the stories have the themes of characters who are keeping up appearances of normality while the smutty little secrets they think they hold are in fact known to everyone. The first, The Greening of Mrs Donaldson, tells the story of Mrs Donaldson who, recently widowed, had taken to being an actor at the medical department of the nearby university, and has taken two university students, as lodgers. The students, a couple, often have trouble paying their rent and come up with a plan of what they can 'do' for Mrs Donaldson, 'in lieu' of the rent they owe. The second, The Shielding of Mrs Forbes tells the tale of one highly dysfunctional family and a policeman, all doing highly inappropriate things. I can't say that I enjoyed this as much as I liked The Uncommon Reader. The first story has the advantage of a very likeable character who learns to go on with her bad self. The second, while it does contain some very amusing lines and the kind of wit I expect of Alan Bennett, its farce never really seems to come to a point. This is another very quick read if you're looking for something witty and hilarious, but I didn't enjoy it as much as The Uncommon Reader.