Virginia Barton

26 December 2013: Boxing Day


26 December 2013


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It took at least ten minutes to explain to a young taxi driver the actual meaning of Boxing Day. He was intrigued to the point of wonder and likely expected his tip in a gaily wrapped one.


It’s been a gentle Christmastide here. (I nearly wrote Lake Wobegon.) All visitors, parties and extramurals had to be cancelled or postponed. One week ago, precisely, I happened to look across the breakfast table at BH:

“Are you pouching something in your cheek? A Clementine perhaps?” (Surely not.)

“No. I have a bit of a toothache.”

Oh my gollygosh, the swelling was down his neck as well. High drama and rapid action was called for. Actually, the dramatic rapidity took hours, but suffice it to say, by supper time BH was safely gowned, and tucked up in bed in a lovely room in the specialist surgery inpatient ward with pints of antibiotics coursing thru’ him. The next day the offending Hampsteads were removed.


(Puzzled by Hampsteads? The Cockney rhyming slang for teeth is “Hampstead Heath” usually abbreviated to Hampsteads. So you just might overhear in the Mile End Road:

“You ‘avin’ trouble wiv yer ‘ampsteads? Fought so, jus’ look at yer chevy chase!”)


He came home on the last Sunday of Advent, just in time for a very quiet and gentle Christmas.

NO ALCOHOL! Until 2014. He’s proving he isn’t an alcoholic. Fiercesome but magical antibios seem to be doing their stuff, so with luck all that remains is a long line of appointments at the dentist to fix the remaining Hampsteads.

It’s sad to see the old bear down; felled, if we’re honest, by neglect. BH sees no point in dentists unless something hurts. In fact men as a whole are rubbish at preventative medicine.


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Fortunately I had a really easy read on my Kindle. Pre-Christmas is the time to indulge in slops, so I downloaded for free (nice touch ginny), The Complete Forsyte Saga. I tried to read this years ago when the excellent TV version was shown every Sunday night on the BBC. Such was its popularity, church service times were altered so that people could get home to watch it – this is long before the era of catch-up or video.

Well, I couldn’t read the book then but find it just the ticket now. It’s chief virtue is length – it’ll last for ages. Other books arrived on Christmas Day including George Weigel’s Roman Pilgrimage and Debo Devonshire’s Nest Eggs. I refer familiarly to the Duchess of Devonshire — which is an outright porky, I never met her!!


We had a modest Vigil Supper, the softer items, and have not yet defrosted the bit of turkey now earmarked for New Year’s Eve. The family, cheery, colourful and ever-helpful, have streamed in on different days and at different times with possets, brownies and other soft treats for Granfer. Entirely clad in new clothes by the old trouble and strife, BH sits magisterially in his recliner receiving homage as is his due.

By the time we reach his birthday in January, he will be quite unbearable…





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