Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas lights

One of our college janitors always appears to me to be what we Scots would call “dour”. This is pronounced to rhyme with “poor” - unless you have the sort of accent that would pronounce that as “pore”. Imagine a full-bodied Scottish “ooo” in the middle. D-oooo-rr. Anyway, it means a sort of mixture between gloomy and grumpy, and it may be significant that we Scots seem to need such a word.

This chap has a very nice wife who works in the college office so I suspect he’s secretly also nice. He may simply have discovered that it’s more convenient in our establishment to send out unhelpful vibes. If you have the reputation of being helpful, people ask you to do things. Which is time-consuming (she said with feeling).

The other evidence against this janitor’s actually being dour is this amazing Christmas display (above) that he puts up every year. I blogged about this last December as well, if you care to be redazzled. It’s maybe not hugely tasteful, but you can’t help admiring the effort he puts in. Ladders are involved. So is a lot of global warming, I’d think.

As a comparison, this display at the top belongs to one of our neighbours (not in our street, Anna, if you’re trying to place it. Turn left at the top of our street and go up the hill. The green house. But you possibly never went in that direction). Sorry about the rubbishness of the photo. I don’t think my camera’s up to night photography. But you can see that his effects are less random than those achieved by the janitor, who seems to disagree with the “less is more” philosophy. In his world, more is definitely more. The neighbour goes for artistry. I suspect that the janitor has a nip of whisky before starting.

And then we have our house, where, at the moment, less is – well, nothing much at all, apart from the cushion cover. I do also have a poinsettia in the front window but I don’t think we’re in danger of winning a prize for the most original display at this stage. This weekend – are you reading this, Mr Life? – I hope to persuade my dear husband to put lights on the little tree in the tub outside the front door. He’s a good soul but tends to point out that struggling with lights and prickly trees is not one of his favourite things. And then the following weekend we’ll do the indoor tree – which has to be persuaded into its water-filled holder, further persuaded not to fall sideways like a stricken warrior and then strung with lights. At this stage, Mr Life tends to retire from the fight, all his Christmas preparations over apart from the wrapping of presents, which we usually share on Christmas Eve, grey with exhaustion.

But let’s end on a positive note. ‘Tis the season to be jolly. And I’m going to start my Christmas shopping this weekend. I’ll be up town at 9am and home, all problems solved, by 11.

You think?

(By the way, why did no one admire the splendid job that Mr Life did rewickering the back of the chair? I was very impressed myself by this hidden talent. He reckoned that if he were doing it for a living he'd have to charge about £250 per chair to make it worth while, but maybe he'd get quicker with practice. He's not taking orders, though.)


  1. Your front door is lovely! I like the color and the tree on it! I do, also love the potted tree. :) Here it is gray and gloomy. And bitterly frigid. Good luck with the shopping!

  2. Have fun shopping!! Our tree goes up this weekend - our little grandson wants to do an animated video movie of putting the tree up, his idea is that it appear the tree decorates itself, interesting:-)

  3. Oh Isabelle, I did admire that re-wickering, and should have said so sooner. I was immensely impressed. I have had fake Breuer dining chairs for umpty years, bought from an Ikea-style furniture chain, and it used to be possible to buy new backs and seats when the inevitable holes developed. In fact one year Stomper gave me a couple of seat pieces for Christmas and I was thrilled.
    You can't buy these any more so I have had to find someone who does it professionally. Such a person is hard to find, it costs a lot and it takes ages. My surplus chairs, when I moved, went to Stomper's sister, and all the seats fell to bits. Her man, while very useful in many many ways, did not know how to re-wicker, so they now have plywood seats, cut to shape and screwed on by her man and by Fixit, last Christmas, while Christmas dinner was a-cooking. So I think having a man who can do re-wickering is wonderful and he is worthy of great praise and applause.
    Where did he learn how to do it?

  4. OhMyGosh Isabelle! How very rude of us!!! I actually did admire that chair a GREAT deal and thought how beautiful and how amazing Mr. Life is -- 'cause that's a talent that's hard to find around here. Mom had to have a rocker re-wickered about a year ago and we had to search quite awhile to find someone an hour away to do it. I always have such a hard time with your posts because there are SO many things I want to comment on, but don't want to write something that will take forever for you to read -- I know how busy you are!

    You're right about the neighborhood -- we never turned left -- how shameful! (I did walk to the end of the street and admire that impeccably trimmed hedge on the corner!) I smiled at the picture of your door -- I took lots of door pictures in Scotland and your beautiful blue door is by far my favorite!

  5. I have surpassed myself this year by ordering Christmas online and having Amazon deliver. It has been surprisingly fun - like having two Christmases - as boxes arrive at my office and I get to open them to see what random collection Amazon has decided to put in one receptacle: Lego Indiana Jones, a microscope and and Alan Bennett book? But of course!

  6. I have got very lazy about sending letters or cards. The long queue at the Post Office is just one of the reasons!
    I do admire Mr Life's amazing restoration on the wickering. I have a real soft spot for wicker.
    The cushion is very festive too.

  7. Well, the lovely pillow hid a lot of the re-wickering. I'm duly impressed because I'd be far to lazy to do the job and would just ditch the chair at a charity shop.

  8. oops -- make that "too" lazy...

  9. I was impressed too. Did he go to a class?

  10. Oh no, I see, he bought a book. Now THAT's impressive...