Mustard coloured turtle necks and haircuts that owe a lot to the nearest mixing bowl, the fuzz and fade of decades in the album, closed and out of mind, can’t dim the smiles or hide those who are there amongst the wrapping paper drifts
It’s about now that my brother, like some atomic clock for childhood illness, gets the annual razor blade throat of tonsillitis. As much as it’s a pain for him, has he no consideration for me? Who’ll be better than me at playing with my toys now? Dad? Pfffft.
There have been other years when the gross ache of being apart was caused by the spiral growth of life, but it was ours, easily fixed by a Boxing Day trip or a warm January shindig. This year’s exponential spiral stifles all but the cold binary of a zoom call and fans smouldered ire at the avoidable
At 6 A.M. the day started with an obscure Eastern Bloc animation of sad animals finding the spirit of the season through solidarity, then by running fingers down the listed joys of the Radio Times I found it perfectly possible to navigate a day from a hole in the sofa, subsisting on nuts, as familiar celebrities made Christmas **** of themselves
Head resting on the cold glass, the bus streams a show of tired towns and spent countryside, my oh-so-worldly heart beats through paper thin sophistication anticipating mum and dad with all the missing love that for a forgotten moment makes the *****, vaulted ceiling of the station resound
Morning comes with a narcotic buzz as I eschew my uniform for a He-Man T-Shirt and joggers. A fraught quarter hour is spent selecting which toy to take in (the collective judgment can be harsh) then off into the riotous grin of the last day of term.
In the midst of the tinsel scrum with most calendar doors feathered open sometimes a melancholy still calls. The fevered peaks of nativity plays or the constant electric anticipation of just what is in that box can give way to a sudden sigh in Christmas blue.
Never more distraught than when parents dared to have a night out near Christmas. Complete desolation at their betrayal was quickly assuaged by nana, babysitting like a boss, with a steady stream of treats and staying up late to watch Dempsey and Makepeace
Have we got enough batteries? Because what I’m hoping for from Santa requires at least four of the fat ones plus four of the thin ones for the remote? And remember last year when he forgot? And I cried? For hours? So, have we got enough? Mum’s face suggests that more than batteries are drained.