Time has certainly moved on fast since my last blog. I cannot believe we only have 14 days to go before Christmas. Are you all ready for it? I certainly am. We have been buying the food and booze over the last few weeks so it won’t amount to one big expense had we bought it all in one go. I have put up my tree and decorations. I do love the seasonal festive feel in my house. I would love to put more fairy lights around but Bah Humbug who lives with me won’t allow it. Still, I have his black and white Bah Humbug hat on the ready for him to wear at the Christmas Day dinner table. He loves the food and drink aspect of the Christmas celebrations but not the rest of it. He disappears upstairs when I play Christmas music. He is rarely happy with what Santa brings for him. But then he always wants the most expensive items – plus things Santa would not deliver anyway. He only has four presents to open this time against my very many. That is only because he asked for a book costing well over £100. So instead of having a few less expensive gifts to open – he has to put up with just the one from myself and my family combined. I call it myself and my family. We usually have a Secret Santa system with my family but not this year, because we won’t be able to get together. I suggested for all of us to buy our partners an extra present to make up for it.
We will be alone for Christmas. We cannot run the risk of catching the virus if we mix with other family members. My sister works in a shop and my brother-in-law works as a postman. The children have been at school. Even though they have all been careful and have escaped catching the virus so far, you just never know when any luck runs out. We had last Christmas on our own. And we really enjoyed it. Of-course we love seeing the children rip open their presents in a few seconds flat with immense glee and all the excitement that goes with it. But it meant that my husband did not have an hour-long drive to South East London and an hour’s drive back home so we could see the family. He hates driving that far in the wintertime. Even if it is to a gun range. So we just pleased ourselves last year. Kevin could drink a few glasses of wine. I pulled his leg if he started to look miserable over the dinner table and I had to read out his cracker jokes for him because he didn’t have his glasses handy. We ate dinner when we wanted and were able to watch The Queen’s speech for once. I still dressed up though, as if I was going out rather than staying in. Well, Christmas Day is sacred. I imagine it will be a bit different this year now we have video meetings into play. Another reason to dress up! And I will call my friend in Chichester because she will be at home all alone as she is in no one else’s bubble.
I for one am pleased about the vaccination programme taking off. I cannot wait to be called to have mine done. Fortunately Kevin and I both belong to the same group – no 5. So we can go together. It will be fantastic to become immuned to the virus 28 days later and we can then look forward to some more freedom in the coming months. What joy it will be to start planning a few things again. Trips to visit friends and a holiday in the summer. I realise however we will have to carry on abiding by certain rules such as wearing face masks and keeping a social distance from other people. And I dare-say we will be back at the GP surgeries or vaccination centres being re-vaccinated up to a year later in order to keep the virus at bay. I am just hoping all the logistics will be sorted out so we can be inoculated at the times they predict for each group.
I believe the vaccines are perfectly safe. OK – it may not work with the odd one or two people but the ones we have heard of so far have been given between 90% and 95% effectiveness. I also believe with the Oxford vaccine that it has been worked on for many years so far for a predicted pandemic for a disease called “X”. And it was found that Covid fits the bill. With the millions of pounds that Matt Hancock threw at the project back in April meant the scientists could give their all. And so they did, 24/7 and sacrificing weekends, days off and holidays. And they succeeded. They don’t inject the virus into our systems. They use a component that triggers our immune system into preventing infection. I also think it is our duty to be vaccinated in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones and everyone else around us. The only worry is for us elder ones, if the regulators will approve the Oxford jab for use for the over 55s. The last write up that I read indicates that it should be approved for everyone. So we will have to wait and see. They say there should be an announcement of its approval for use this side of Christmas so it can be rolled out from then on. But again, we will have to wait and see. It would be great if it happens since Pfizer may halt their manufacturing for a while which means there would be a wait for however long it will be for future supplies to reach the UK. And it would be great if the Oxford one could be used in the meantime. My family is unlucky to have lost a member through the virus. She was my Dad’s first cousin who I knew well, even though I didn’t see her very often. It was sad to hear she spent the last three weeks of her life in hospital with no visitors allowed. And there was no funeral. Her husband did not see the point under the circumstances.
Here I am in Kent living under Tier 3 restrictions. The case rates are creeping up fast day by day. It is frightening. I cannot understand it after a four-week lockdown and tighter restrictions ever since. There must be a lot of people who are breaking the rules and causing many others who are careful to be infected. Dec was one who was extremely careful all the way along. He often nagged us (in a nice way) at Zoom meetings, advising us to wear masks and keep washing our hands and following the rules. And he caught it. It did upset and scare him as it would me and many others. But thank goodness he looked after himself well and he recovered. It was so good to see him back on top form at the Zoom meeting this Sunday just gone. It just goes to show how easy it is to catch even if you follow the rules. I expect Kent will remain in tier 3 for a few more months. I for one will not be going out anywhere far unless I really have to.
Con and Dec shared videos at the Zoom meeting of the previous Christmas seasons taken from their monthly reviews. They are looking forward to Christmas. Con said he will be spending Christmas Day with his son Michael and his wife and son. So he will be sure to have a great time. He said in a previous Zoom meeting that his wife Kay was never keen on Christmas and she wanted all the decorations taken down on Boxing Day. Now that his daughter lives with him and loves Christmas, she puts up decorations and lights in a few rooms and leaves then there until Twelfth Night. So Con will be able to enjoy the festivities for that much longer. I assume Dec may spend Christmas with his daughters as 3 households can mix. I only hope with the general mixing of families up and down the land that it won’t cause us to have a severe third wave of the virus in January. There are bound to be a few stupid people who will hold big parties – but here is hoping that most will remain sensible and careful.
I was digging through my stack of newsletters I wrote over the last 21 years and I found a feature about the boys Christmases in the December 1998 issue. Of-course their Christmases changed over the following years when their grandchildren were born. But here is the write up:-
Being that this is the Christmas edition, we asked Con and Dec about their childhood Christmases from the war and post war years. Ireland, as you know, remained neutral during the Second World War and was virtually unaffected by disruption and food shortages. Dec said that only sweets were rationed in Ireland but he and Con didn’t mind that too much for they were compensated by the abundance of toys they received from their Aunt each year. She worked at Easons department store in O’Connell Street in Dublin then and managed to buy the said items at less than cost value. The boys found out why, as vital parts were missing. Such as keys for the wind-up variety!!! Owing to the fact that food was not rationed in Ireland, the Cluskey family was able to eat turkey for their main Christmas meal, where-as their English, Scottish and Welsh counterparts had to suffice with whatever they could get according to wealth. With Con and Dec growing up in the Roman Catholic faith, they had to attend Mass on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The remainder of their time on Christmas Eve was spent at the house of their father’s relatives where they sang carols. It was in 1958 when their family had their first TV set and by then Con and Dec were young adults embarking upon their show business career.
Con and Dec are Christmas people. They love the festive season. Like many of us they are big kids at heart and love giving and receiving gifts. They enjoy the quality time spent with their families.
In recent years Dec told us about his Christmas Eve tradition that he has taken from the age of 2, which he still follows now. He likes to go into the town and buy a fresh cream cake and walking along the high street or shopping centre eating it and getting cream everywhere. All over his face and down his front. He shared that tradition with his father and now with his daughter Victoria and maybe other family members. So if any of you happen to be doing last minute Christmas shopping in Eastbourne, you may be lucky enough to catch them with that deed which they enjoy very much. Con said his Christmas Eve tradition of old used to be trips to Woolworths with his mother. She used to like going there on that day to see what last minute Christmas bargains she could pick up.
Anyway – that ends my blog. I hope all my readers will have a lovely Christmas although it will be different. And I wish you all a Happy New Year in the hope that 2021 will be a much better time for us all. The writes ups state that the rest of the 2020’s will be “Party Time” making up for lost time in 2020 which was a non-year really. It will be history repeating itself as the 1920s were called the “Roaring Twenties” when people held huge parties lasting long through the night and into the next morning. Making up for the lack of jollies during the First World War and The Spanish Flu Pandemic straight afterwards when people had to wear masks and practice social distancing. So let the good times begin with parties galore to enjoy.