Tuesday, 30 December 2008

My Top Five

My top five people right now (in no particular order of greatness)

1. My genius hairdresser Simon
For the first time in ten years my phobia of hairdressers is beginning to fade. So much so that I can sit in the chair without getting into a state of stress induced 'rigor mortis'. I have complete faith in this scissor wielding saint.

2. My friend, housemate and pillar of strength - Eloise

She is always at the end of the phone, bed, sofa, kitchen bench... for tears, laughter, wisdom and counselling. She never complains, and is always patient and understanding. And as much as she would be justified in doing so, in the last four months she has never screamed at me 'for god's sake woman - grow a backbone and pull yourself together!' Surely any other normal human being would have done that weeks ago.

3. Courtney Love

Nothing makes you feel more empowered than walking through the tube station crowds to 'Miss World'. I need to steal a little bit of her attitude and spirit right now.

4. Toyin - my co-pilot at Engage

She is so filled with spirit and energy that if I could only have one tenth of her love for life then I would be a happy woman. And for someone who has to work with me she is amazingly happy. All the time. An absolute joy.

5. My pair of parents

For never telling me what I should do; where I should go; or how I should live my life. Ever. For standing back and always just wanting what makes me happy. Even if it means being on the other side of the world. I was truly blessed to be born to them.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The Christmas Bat

My family has a large number of odd Christmas traditions. From the bachelor button in the Christmas pudding which we would all fight over annually; to the 'fly candle' (don't ask, it's a bit gross, and Mum put a stop to it a few years ago); to us 'kids' still insisting on having pillow cases from Father Christmas. With our names pinned on them. Chris gets the one with the Wombles on it.

But of them all, my most favourite family tradition is that of the 'Christmas Bat'.

Every Christmas Day someone has to dress up in my sister Nicki's ballet pantomime bat costume from when she was about ten. The first year it was my Dad. Then Chris had a go. And more recently, since someone was daft enough to marry into the Bramwell clan, the honour has gone to Dave (as seen below).

The Christmas Bat is charged with the responsibility of handing out the presents on Christmas Day afternoon. They then must remain in the costume for the rest of the evening. Even when, after copious glasses of wine, the previously erect ears start to flop right over.

The honour of the Emerald Fairy (the bat's special helper) goes to whoever can fit into my sister's 'tasteful' 80's Ball dress from her last year at high school.

I hear there is a fresh unsuspecting person in line for bat this year. Oh if only I could see his face when he hears the news.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Bucket, string and some aspirin....

I'm alone in my lounge right now apart from a squat fir tree propped up in the corner of the room, encased in mesh like a bank robber with his face in a stocking. He has a wooden base next to him which will eventually support him, once we 'let him out of the bag'.

I carried him home on my shoulder this very cold winter's evening. My breath tumbled in front of my face, and my fingers stung with cold despite being wrapped in gloves.

When I was a kid Dad would go out onto the farm and find a festive looking pine tree branch to become our Christmas tree. More recently, Mum has gotten someone to deliver a suitable branch to the house. Usually it is enormous. As in about ten feet of 'enormousness'.

Our Christmas tree 'Herbert' will (hopefully) sit nicely on his wooden base.

Mum props the pine tree in a bucket, goes out into the paddock to get the appropriately sized rocks, then fills the bucket with water and aspirin to keep tree alive for the next two weeks. Then she will string it up in some elaborate fashion so it doesn't topple over on some unsuspecting relative.

Herbert au naturale

This week we will go out and buy decorations so Herbert feels suitably like a cross dresser whilst he sits in the corner of our room for the festive season.

Dressed up Herbert

Every year Mum will go to the hall cupboard and pull down the same cardboard box of Christmas decorations she has had since I can remember. She will pull out the toilet roll covered in crepe paper to look like a cracker; the angel cut out coloured in with crayon I did when I was five; and of course the string of Christmas lights she has had since she married my Dad. Over 40 years ago. Some of the bulbs have blown. But they still work.

The Bramwell Xmas Tree 2008

I remember once when I was about ten, sneaking into the lounge in the middle of the night and sitting underneath one of those big pine branches. I sat there amongst the piles of wrapped underwear from various aunties. All the lights were out except those persistent coloured tree lights. And even though by that time I knew there was no Father Christmas; and I knew the small, soft parcel from Auntie Colleen was underwear, Christmas was magical all the same.