Apologies for the delay in transmission during the festive period, which we will return to presently. First of all, however, I trust that we all had a very merry Christmas and did much eating, drinking and being... well... merry. Also, a belated Happy Birthday to The Soapbox for 23rd. I don't mind that I didn't get invited to the party (not that I would've gone, of course, being in a state of ill-health, but it's always nice to be invited. As a matter of point, in fact, if you're ever having a party and you want to be seen to be generous with invites, but you can't really be bothered entertaining everyone, invite me - I never come).
But to get back to the business in hand, you'll all be wondering how Christmas was here at WhyNotSmile, and in all honesty, the answer is that it was pretty much the same as most Christmases that you or I have ever had. Mum decided to have turkey for dinner, and my dad had got these things called crackers that had bits of plastic and crap jokes in them. Great-Auntie Isobel asked whether Mum had steeped her ham (despite having no idea of the potential consequences, I live in anticipation that the answer to this question will one year be 'yes') and then we pondered why it is that people always say that turkey's dry. My sister got overexcited about the whole thing (one of these years I'm going to hit her with a turkey drummer in the middle of The Snowman), we went for a walk on the beach and then came back in time for The Queen, who spoke of how she was thinking of the troops and how it would be nice if we were all nice to each other a bit more. Then we played 'Matching Pairs' with Great-Auntie Isobel (we like our games, but you can't have anything with overly complex rules).
Then of course there was the religious aspect. I failed to make it to church this year (all that 'oh look how much you've grown, are you married yet?' from old Sunday School teachers just could not be faced), and was left at home in charge of putting the oven on, cutting X's in the Brussels sprouts and sorting the presents (the latter at my sister's behest - she really does get overexcited). But of course, there is always TV, and on Christmas Day it offers something for everyone. On one side we had the atheists scoffing at how they are dead clever and they know things that Christians don't know, because Jesus wasn't really born on 25th December and anyway Christmas is a pagan thing. On the other we had the Archbishops saying that it would be really nice if everyone was a bit nicer to each other and that what with the credit crunch and Christmas, it is a good time for spiritual reflection and maybe people should go to church more.
Incidentally, someone, somewhere has worked out that Jesus was, in fact, born on 17th June (something to do with Mars and Venus, or something), which is pleasing because it means He has the same birthday as me, but would be a bit crap if they moved Christmas to then because then I'd only get one set of presents. I already share my birthday with John Wesley, founder of Methodism, so it's clearly the day to be born.
I should also mention that I got the biggest present of all, although this was mainly because it was saucepans, which are an awkward shape to wrap, so my mum put it in a big box.
So that, basically, was Christmas, and very nice it was too.
Anyway, the festive season was dulled slightly by lack of internet access, the tale of which you will be wanting to know. It started like this: on Monday I was sitting in Belfast and trying to finish off some work and wondering whether the scary kids would come back and getting a bit nervous, when I realised I'd run out of milk. I couldn't really be bothered going and getting more, since I was due to be going to The Parents on Tuesday anyway, so I thought, 'Sod it, I'll go to them today'.
So packed up all my things and drove down, got myself unpacked, and thought 'I'll just go online and finish off that bit of work'. Fired the laptop up and it wouldn't connect to the network, cos I didn't have the password. So I thought, I'll use mum's computer. But all the files are on my laptop. So I came up with a (in hindsight, ill-advised) plan to use her modem/router cable in my laptop, which went well until Windows told me there was a problem and to reset the router. Held in the reset button, tried again - nothing. Held in the reset button again, this time for a bit longer - nothing. And now mum's computer isn't working either. Dig around, find user guide for router thing, it says 'Pressing the reset button resets the router. Holding it in for more than 4 seconds will wipe all your settings and banjaxx everything.' Damn.
Anyway, it's working now. Well, my laptop is. Mum's computer not so much.
A second festive disaster involved the jardinaire (don't know how to spell that - kind of a fancy plant pot) which sat at the bottom of the stairs and which we have now all agreed we weren't that keen on and didn't really match the decor anyway. I'm still not entirely clear how this happened: one moment I was at the top of the stairs holding a sofa cushion, next moment it was bouncing down the stairs, gaining speed despite my desperate attempts to wrench it back with the force of my anguished stare, and then the jardinaire and plant and cushion were all in a little muddled heap in the hall.
So that was Christmas 2008, and frankly I'm more than a little relieved it's all over.