Thursday 27 December 2007

Off the Willie Wonka on St. Stephen's day

So I spent today visiting cats who are spending Christmas alone. Most of them are very large cats, massive purring machines that move slowly. The routine goes like this: as I'm putting the key in the lock, I hear the purring already on the other side of the door. Then I open the door, and immediately, it's THUNK as a large furry cat hits the deck, rolls over to expose its belly and purrs effusively. For those of you who don't know what effusively means, and couldn't be arsed googling it, think PURR PURR PURR kind of intensely, with meaning. Aggressive purring, the kind that says, "Rub me, rub me, make me want to bite you on the wrist the way I love to".

And so I have spent today giving a lot of belly rubs, and getting sat on. And I think this is my first Christmas working, and I sort of realise today that, however much I have loathed the arse out of it in the past, the Christmas rhythm is laid down in my DNA as a family time, a stretched out time, a kind of saturated fat of a time of year. And it's actually a bit unexpectedly sad to be away from Ireland right now. It's fleeting, but significant. Something about the way that everything in the whole of Ireland except the frenzied sale-shoppers, shuts down for the whole week from Christmas day to New Year's day. You send out your last batch of Christmas emails on Christmas eve and you get those automated officey bounced back emails, telling you they're out of the office, on the jar, the willie wonka and the selection box, for a good two weeks, so feck off and don't be expecting a reply before January 5th, AT THE EARLIEST.

Christmas day for me lasts a full week, AT LEAST. I turn into a slow moving, fat storing, hibernating creature who has a few chats with the family, a bath every day, and the odd phone call and that's about it. And I can feel how good it is for me.

Not this year. Rush hour on the train was rush hour on the train today, the day after Christmas or not. Rough. Millions of people all playing musical chairs and all of them a constantly renewing batch of fresh strangers. Feckin raining, too.

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