Gary Strachan – "Write" Said Fred

Off The Wall Essays From Deep Within A Capricious Mind

Advent

On opening the Strachan advent calendar’s first door this morning I was startled be confronted by a creaking noise. Unsure of it’s source, I concluded the sound had either emanated from my yet to warm up middle aged limbs, or as a consequence of rust on the calendar door hinges.

With the festive adornments composition being cardboard, though, I concluded the piercing screech to be the former; meaning there’s no requirement for me to WD40 the remaining doors…….. That being said, I should probably start upping my daily glucosamine intake to negate against ever crepitate joints.

The chocolate filled advent calendar sits on an occasional table in a small corner of our dining area. I refer to it as an occasional table as occasionally, for instance when my mum wants to vacuum under my feet, I use it as a seat.

These days I’ve no need to display vigilance around chocolate advent calendars which was required at the marital home during my kids fledgling years.

Back in the halcyon Christmas advents of the 1990’s it wasn’t unusual to witness my young children’s advent calendar doors being opened to fresh air where chocolate had previously lain. My wife and I not requiring the services of Hercule Poirot to concur the absent candy was consequential of our offspring’s impatience and clandestine pilfering.

That being said, though, I could be doing my kids Jonathon and Rachel a disservice; the paucity of chocolate behind the cardboard flaps may’ve been a consequence of confectioner Cadburys venturing into the fresh air advent calendar market….. Unlikely, but as our wondrous judicial system advocates “Innocent until proved guilty.”

A shrewd green yuletide pitch to boost customer oxygen levels and the companies coffers. Again, unlikely, but as our wondrous judicial system advocates “Innocent until proved guilty.”

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I’d submit, though, our suspicions of clandestine offspring chocolate theft weren’t without basis in fact. An observation born from witnessing evidence of chocolate around Jonny and Rach’s mouths shortly after placing the festive countdown product on my marital home’s occasional table.

At the time, I also concluded consumer gullibility isn’t yet at a level where that they’d pay for fresh air…. Give it a few years, and a Conservative victory in the upcoming general election, though!

I don’t recall there being chocolate advent calendars when my siblings and me were kids. Living in a Amish community in the north east of England meant our parents made them out of any spare paper and cardboard at hand.

Consequently, the 1970’s saw no festive snowy scenes of yuletides yore in the Strachan home. There weren’t pictures of robins, holly wreaths, wise men and shepherds. Instead our Ian, Helen and my advent calendar views a collage of clippings from the Radio Times, Daily Express, cornflake packets and the gas bill……. Thankfully, if one of us opened the advent calendar door to be greeted by the gas bill our parents spared us from paying it. Some say we were spoil, However I like to think our mother and father were embracing the festive spirit.

It wasn’t uncommon for one of us to open the door on the 24th December and instead of the nativity scene find a grainy monochrome picture of Tory leader Ted Heath’s yacht, or a disparaging comment about Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer Denis Healy’s bushy eyebrows.

Heavily influenced by our advent calendars, Yuletide in our home was about the 1973 miners strike, power cuts and that our parents owed £2.57 on the phone bill.

Don’t get me wrong we didn’t live in poverty, my dad was a factory manager and although by no means rich, we never did without anything. However, we may’ve become  more affluent if dad’s market research had been more thorough. His company then maybe realising there wasn’t much call for luminous hat rims in 1970’s Gateshead……. Or even now coming to think of it!

Some people say my late dad’s innovative ideas were ‘before his time’. However, I prefer to think of it as him having bloody ridiculous millinery epiphany’s!

Anyway, I need to make tracks now as there’s a few things to complete on my ‘To Do’ list. One of which is to ask my mum where she procured all the chocolate she’s been troughing while I’ve been writing.

Categories: Blogs, family, fiction, humour, memories

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