Perhaps for the first time in thirty odd years I have lost most of the Christmas magic. However that does not mean I cannot wish all my devoted readers, both new and old a very Merry Christmas and a New Year!
Category: Christmas Day
Perhaps it will become a tradition at Christmas, much like Her Majesty’s Speech to the United Kingdom and Commonwealth promptly at 3pm. Last year I went to see Tom Cruise, in the action blockbuster, Mission:Impossible – Ghost Protocol, with my Dad at IMAX Waterloo. (I am sure I have mentioned before but just to underline again – the biggest screen in the country). My wife is not a fan of the Top Gun actor but puts up with my soft spot for him and his movies. However, I was hoping to catch Jack Reacher over the Twixmas period. (The days after Christmas but before the new year drops) my Dad had been my initial choice but he was busy and frankly not that interested after seeing what he called a rather moody trailer.
It was a true surprise when I opened a third Christmas gift which I had not been expecting and in all honestly had not noted under the tree in the lead up to the big day. Sure, I may be into my thirties now but that does not stop me snopping under the tree and doing a quick count on the number of my presents. I am really looking forward to our trip to the cinema on Thursday evening, which will of course begin with a trip around the sales in The Oracle, Reading.
A quick roundup before the festivities begin, although I bet if you will be reading this several days after the big day. I wanted to mention my shopping trip to Milton Keynes on Monday. It has become a tradition, to go Christmas shopping with my friend around the twenty something of December. We have been to various places but Milton Keynes the most. I say tradition but it only goes back as far as 2002. That year we went to Milton Keynes, then Oxford in 2003, Milton Keynes again in 2004 and Aylesbury in 2005 and back to Milton Keynes in the past two years. You will remember 2006 for the thick fog but I will remember for the Nightmare before Christmas. Overall MK has featured four out of our six previous Christmas shopping trips together. The town has everything (well practically everything) under one roof. Unlike previous years I did not have a lot to get and it was perhaps the first time we would not be venturing into the HMV store. The main reason for this is I had ordered my sister’s computer online last week and it arrived as scheduled yesterday. The rest of my gifts were minor in size, well almost.
My friend had just driven down from Derbyshire the previous night (Sunday 21st) so we had opted to head out later than my usual 8am start. I got over to his house around 11am and we left a little while later. The trip over to Milton Keynes was straight forward, and by sticking to cross-country route we made excellent time. We parked outside Xscape and walked across to grab some lunch in the Theatre District. We opted for The Slug & Lettuce, had a light lunch and drink and then headed into the cauldron. The town was very busy but somehow we made our way through from John Lewis down to Marks & Spencer and back again. We were looking for an Argos store but discovered it was not in the centre. We got all the bits we needed, included a trip into Woolworths for potentially the last time. It was a shame to see the shelves so bare but there is no time for nostalgia in business. We left around 3.30pm and headed back to the car and put in the postcode for the IKEA store. It was located a little drive away close to junction 14 of the M1. This was my first trip into an IKEA store and I did not really know what to expect. I realised it was very big from the drive down. It is based on an industrial estate, close to where they are currently building the new Arena:MK. I was hoping to pick up a chest of drawers for my flat, the one piece of furniture missing. We headed upstairs (two escalators) and then were in the show room. However, the design is very clever, you are taken on a journey through the store, with a clear bright blue walkway with arrows. This ensure you walk through all the departments before getting to the checkout. We found what we were looking for and eventually I settled on a particular design. We grabbed the ticket from the showroom piece and then headed to the self service area. I forgot to pick up a trolley, so had to come back to the start of the self service area to collect one and then we managed to both pick up the flat pack box and place it on the trolley and then queue at the till. It was quite busy but only three tills open (perhaps four at a push). Eventually we got served and then went through down the lift to place the bulky item into the car. (The back seat had to go down.) That was my first IKEA experience and I am glad to say I will not be back again for a while. Or perhaps I am tempting fate a little.
Afterwards, we headed across the roundabout to the Argos Xtra store, which was on a retail park with a Next store among others. It was rather small for an out of town change, I had been in bigger stores in city centres (Leicester for example). We headed for a catalogue and found what we needed and check the computer to see if the items were in stock. Both of my items were available but also reduced. Plus, I was going to use up all my Nectar points! Job done, a pretty much stress free shopping trip. Well I perhaps that thought popped into my head a little too soon. We were stuck in traffic for about fifteen minutes trying to get out of the car park. Eventually we got out and headed back to Oxfordshire.
Tonight went into town with my sister, Samantha, her friend Kirsty and Dipesh. I wanted to check out the new pub that had replaced the Hog’s Head. Although at the time I could not remember the name. The new name is William Robert Loosely. The last time I had been in this pub it had been the evening of my 18th birthday, so late November 1998. Ten years had past and I felt very much older, particularly with so many people that looked around seventeen to nineteen. The place was packed but we found a table upstairs. It was just for a quick Christmas Eve drink but even with my Santa hat, most other people in the pub had not made an effort. Afterwards we headed further into town, I had recommended The Falcon (another from the Wetherspoons chain) after seeing the long queue at The Litten Tree. Dipesh was not impressed with the clientelle leaving the pub and considering how busy it was, we headed across the road to The Antelope. Once again, a first for me. Many of my old school friends now frequent this establishment (many whom have then posted photographs onto Facebook for it to appear on my news feed). It was not really my type of place but fair enough, I was happy to stick around for a while. We headed outside and found a table free. The people here looked generally older and I felt a bit better to be with my own peer group. Plus they had made a much better effort in terms of Christmas. After our drinks we headed back to the car parked in Eden and drove home. Parking had been free (as Kirsty had pointed out the moment we had driven into the town centre). When I got home, it was time for a cup of tea before catching a bit of television before then finally going to bed.
Merry Christmas to all my visitors, both new and old. All the best for 2009 and may it bring you both success and happiness.
Last year I broke with tradition. Strange concept for me, tradition. However, this blog has been running for over four years, so there is a small footprint in the form of a legacy. From 2002 until 2004, I have posted an entry on Christmas Day. This has varied from a few lines with seasons greetings to all, to in more recent years a full blown account of the build up to the big day and a few lines about what I got up to. I thought about foregoing an entry this year, to make a change. However looking back on the day, I thought it only fair to cover some of the magical moments.
I got up late, or rather my whole family got up late for Christmas morning. Usually we would be up and opening presents around 9am but it was well after 11am for us to get around to it this year. The most heart warming scene was my second cousin, celebrating his 3rd Christmas (but first one with us) opening his presents and being a complete bundle of joy (well most of the time).
I got him the Disney Pixar DVD Box set featuring all the animated movies. I had seen some but not all and decided to watch Cars. I had not seen the movie in the summer, even though I had wanted to go to a screening. In the end I am glad I decided against the big screen and opted for the small screen and my cosy sofa. It was not very funny to me, but having spent a bit of time reading up about the movie (as I always do) it would have meant more to an American audience aware of NASCAR. Nevertheless it was extremely entertaining and did have a few moments. Well worth watching. While I prefer Luke Wilson, rather than his brother Owen, he does pull off the voice to Lightning McQueen with the large ego and style you would come to expect. There are nice touches too, a minor love story (of parts) and some cameos from famous people from within the motor sport world. Good clean family fun is my verdict. Now, what else is left off the Disney/Pixar list?
In th evening I retired to my room and made an impulse buy. I suppose I better start from the beginning. My sister asked for an mp3 player for Christmas. Originally I was going to be a scrooge and not get it for her, but being the lovely big brother I am, I decided to get her one. Now, as you know I purchased a pink iPod Mini for my other sisters, back in September last year. This time around I wanted to go for something better, but more suitable for a 13 year old girl. I chose the Creative Zen Plus ahead of the iPod Shuffle for various reasons, the main being the screen which enabled both photographs and video to be watched. Plus there was double the flash memory and the incredibly small size.
It was not just the size that impressed me, but installing all the software on the family computer (I am the only user with full admin rights) I was impressed by the software. Right click and send to the player. Amazing, just as simple as sending photos to FlickR (well exactly the same method). I just had to get myself one. Hussein was online and we were had discussed the present earlier. He too, gave the full thumbs up to firstly my purchase of the gift and then when I started I was going to buy one, it was toss between iPod Video or the Creative Zen Vision M. Having just spend most of the afternoon playing around with one of the entry level devices in the family I chose the latter. I needed little convincing. However, just in case, Hussein threw at me over MSN, not one, not two, but three reviews plus a blog entry from someone on installing Linux on the player! It was just a case of tracking down the device and making the purchase. For many years people have asked me, “Teg do you have an iPod?” A few years ago my Dad was going to buy me a Nano but could not get to the Regent Street store in time. It has taken me several years to finally get around to buying one. I feel if I had continued to work in London, in 2004, I would have eventually bought something but my day to day existence does not require mobile music on the go. So, why the hell have I spent all this money? Well I want to have something that can keep me company on match days. Not just the trips across to Noth London, but potential days on the road now I have joined the travel club (no official confirmation yet). Plus, as a diehard fan of music television I will be able to travel across my entire mp3 singles collection, video collection and album collection and still have some space left on the side for more. Quite crazy when you think of the numbers. Particularly when I have spent over 7 years amassing this world famous audio collection. The purchase alone would have been criminal, I had to get some accessories. So I have ordered alternative ear phones, a docking station and of course the leather case.
Having been so selfish I decided to turn my attention to someone else and become a giver of gifts. There are many millions blogs out there and perhaps just a few hundred that focus on my football team. Of course I have only been reading the Arse Blog on a daily basis but have discovered another blog. The Cannon. What stroke me about this blog was the fantastic photographs from matches throughout the last season to date. The author, who also had a FlickR account, under the fantastic name of lasagnechef. I thought as a kind gesture I would purchase him a pro account. A token gift none the less but an opportunity to push the user into uploading more great photos of the Red Army. Not sure if he will get around to writing anything about this on his blog, but you never know.
Tradition, the foundation for this time of year. Sown into the very fabric of this country, our way of life, our way of doing things, dare I be political to utter the word, ‘culture’. If there are two groups of people that roam this earth, one set embrace tradition, convention, the establishment. While the rest reject it, to take their own path. I could never be anything but a creature of habit, routine and ultimate dependence. I have my reasons but then I am sure there are quire valid reasons for you dreading your path. Each to their own.
Yet, I find myself still longer to aspire to greater tradition than the reasonable standard that I have already set. One such aspect would be a seasonal visit to the cinema. Sure, I venture to the multiplex at the wrong time of year. With the summer heat striking down upon us, I am quite keen to catch the summer’s biggest blockbuster, rather than anything else. Last year, there was one film that I had to see. In my eagerness to I asked a close friend if they wanted to go with me. Their response was that it was not worth the visit to the cinema. Disheartened, I allowed the opinion of another to overpower my strong will, knowing also, that there was not much time left to catch a screening locally or even more closer to the actual setting. My only excuse is that there is never the time to fit in a trip to the cinema, even with the FilmWorks a stepping stone away. Too many other things going on and movies are much lower down the list of priorities. Particularly when there are so many things to organize and errands to run.
This year, in mid November I discovered that Sky Movies would be making the digital premiere of that very movie on Christmas Day. Joy filled my heart, hoping that this would be an opportunity for the entire family to sit down, in the evening and spend a few enjoyable hours with sugary entertainment. Did it happen? Well I am happen to report it did, actually. (Yes a very poor pun, but in the circumstances and considering the date, I hope you will be kind enough to forgive me.) Firstly, let me state that I can fully understand why people do not like this movie. Several months ago, Clive Bull had this discussion on his late night talk show on LBC and the negative feeling regarding the Curtis production was clearly evident. However, let me give my personal response. At this time of year, we seem to cocoon ourselves into our own little lives, surrounded by our family, friends and loved ones. We seem to forget how this can be the most difficult time of year for many others. The film tries to get this message across, and also establish the fact that not all love stories have a happy ending. Although, anything shot under the banner of the festive season has some poetic licence. Yes, this film does showcase the brilliance of London at this time of year and does this extremely well, proving that Britain can match some of the more traditional Christmas locations, such as New York, or exotic as Sydney. Sometimes we go to the cinema to be frightened, just like we jump onto a roller coaster to be pushed to the edges of our physical boundaries. I believe deep down inside all of us, there is a beating heart that wants to be warmed. This evening, my heart was gracefully warmed by the eight intertwined storylines of this movie. There is little need for substance, particularly when the image portrayed tells us so much about the human soul. Can feel good cinema get any better? Not really, but do you know the reason why? Christmas is the most magical time of year and sometimes, just sometimes dreams can come true.
I just wanted to wish all visitors to my site, both old and new, a very Merry Christmas.
Just wanted to wish all visitors to my site, a Merry Christmas.
By the way, has Pete Waterman committed suicide, now that the Boy band, sorry Vocal Harmony Group, “One True Voice”, didn’t make it to the Christmas Number One spot? How the world must be weeping at this loss(!)