1) Buying a new Christmas tree ornament guarantees that you'll break one of the old ones while you're decorating the tree.
2) The unexpected sight of your mother's handwriting,
also while you're decorating the tree, can still bring tears to your eyes eight years after her death. (I expect this to go on indefinitely.) It says 'Pearly bells & icicles'. You can see a few of the icicles and one or two bells in the tree photo if you look hard enough.
3) Even if you don't put the tree up
till Christmas Eve, you'll still be really glad you did. Especially when you see that for the second year in a row, the presence of a non-organic stylised metal Christmas tree suggestive of Leunig's Mr Curly has excited no interest from the cats at all, and it is therefore still up and uninterfered-with.
4) If you are making custard from eggs and cream and have the heat up any hotter than a small candle while you stir and wait for it to thicken, you will end up with a suspension of scrambled eggs in cream. If you attempt to remedy this with a sieve, you will end up with a suspension of finely pulverised scrambled eggs in cream. I had already learned this and forgotten it several times. New Year's resolution: buy shares in Paul's.
5) I can still remember (as I learn from singing along with the carols from St Paul's on the teeve) the first two lines of Silent Night in German, from lessons at Adelaide Girls' High in 1966.
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht
Alles schläft; einsam wacht ...
6) No matter how much seafood sauce you make to dip the prawns into (homemade mayo + Beerenberg Hahndorf Tomato Sauce + Tabasco), it will be perceived as not enough.
7) In a family fight, presenting the assembled multitudes with a solution to the problem -- even if it is a solution that all of them accept -- is a waste of time. They don't want a solution to the problem. What they want is to go on fighting.
8) If a cat is given a special present by one of her servant's doting sisters,
there's a slim chance that she might accidentally play with it by mistake.
9) The alpha tortoiseshell is a mighty hunter before the lord.
She can manage with one swipe of an elegant yet powerful paw what it took the Australian people over eleven years to achieve: rodent extermination.
She didn't eat it; she is pictured here nudging the already quite dead varmint to try to make it get up and run around so she can chase it some more.
THE DAY AFTER BOXING DAY
10) Taking a week off is dangerous. Last week was the first week since Boxing Day last year that I did not read and review four novels, and now I'm having hell's own trouble getting up into fourth gear again.
11) One of the boys I was at school with 40 years ago (a category that includes former Senator Nick Bolkus and Greig Pickhaver aka HG Nelson, among others) has not lost his sense of humour.
I learn this while getting the email up to date and reading the December newsletter of my old school's Old Scholars Association. I've written on this blog and in various other places about the crucial importance to me when I was at school of being surrounded by European fellow-students, particularly my Greek mates, from whom I learned that there was a world beyond the Adelaide suburbs. The aforementioned newsletter contains the text of a speech given by Dr James Katsaros, in 1967 the Head Prefect of Adelaide (then Boys') High and now a distinguished plastic and reconstructive surgeon, and Patron of the Adelaide High School Old Scholars' Association. And I'm fairly sure he won't mind me quoting a bit of his speech to Adelaide's Lord Mayor and the assembled Table Captains at a planning gathering, in the Town Hall, for next April's Adelaide High School Centenary Dinner, at which I have already secured my seat:
"When I read ... that our old scholars hold positions of prominence in business and society in South Australia and Australia, I could not help thinking about the likes of Greig Pickhaver, better known as HG Nelson. I wondered how did he develop that passion for Greco-Roman wrestling which we enjoyed so much during the Sydney Olympics? And the answer is, of course, that he feasted daily on the sight of a seething, brawling mass of boys with names such as Koutsamanis, Kari, Finocchio, Zacharoyiannis and Zinghini."