1 Nov


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Griselda was sulking.
It happened every November. Everything – the weather, the length of the day, the temperature – suggested that the year was nearing its end. She didn’t mind that, of course. The year nearing its end was something that simply had to happen, or there would never be a new year with its new seasons and sparkling days, which she always looked forward to. No: she was quite happy with years ending.
What she hated with a fury that depressed her was Christmas. If she could have her own way she’d abolish Christmas and replace it with a nice, honest celebration. Maybe she’d have bonfires and toffee apples and roast potatoes and laughter and happy songs about joyous things, like young love and so on, in her celebration, not that she’d had much to do with young love when she’d been young.
“They were different times, they were,” she muttered. “I wasn’t allowed much love when I was young. Times were hard back then and love was for the rich and famous, those in films and the like. And they were silent back then. You couldn’t hear the love in their voices when they sang!”
As a child she’d known her position in the order of things. There were kids who had nice things for Christmas and those who had an apple and a few nuts. She was in the latter group, and her parents had never been able to get it into their thick heads that she had a nut allergy. So back then something in her head had put down roots about Christmas. It was the one holiday season that proved year after year that she was the child of a pauper, and she simply couldn’t see the point of it.
As she grew older she accumulated new reasons to detest Christmas.
Little when choirs of angelic children knocked her door and tried to sing carols to her, and she hated carols. Of course she did! They were about silly, unreal, impossible things – and it wasn’t until she learned a bit of magic of her own and got her hands on a few powerful spells that she realised just how impossible they were. And to her, stories of impossible deeds were invariably lies.
“Virgin births!” she chortled to herself on more than one occasion. “We all know what goes to make a baby and it needs something less intact than virginity! No, I’ve got enough of an idea about human weakness to be able to guess what happened back then when the Mary woman – or child – got pregnant! And it doesn’t mean the girl who said she was a virgin was a harlot or anything like that. She was an innocent child most likely raped by someone too powerful to point a finger at, and back then, I seem to remember being taught, there were soldiers on every street corner, Roman soldiers with their nasty ways. She was raped all right, and she called the rapist an angel. She had to do that because if she’d said anything else they’d have known it was a man that raped her, and stoned her to death for being involved!”
She snorted. But it wasn’t just the fact that other kids had always had better presents than her and that she’d worked out long ago that the whole festivity was based on lies, it was also to do with what she suspected those lies had replaced. If nothing else, she was a student of human nature and in her mind human nature liked parties – and December the something-or-other was a fine time to have a party.
“I’ll bet there some rare parties back before they got the idea of calling it Christmas,” she thought, “with wine and ale and sparking fires and dancing, shining faces, cuddles and kisses … hey! I’m getting preoccupied with cuddles and kisses, me who never has anything like that to lighten my life! But there will have been lots of love and sex, celebrating the end of one year and the promise of a new one! And if they prayed to gods it would have been to sensible gods, like the sun and the moon and the birth of new seasons!”
What had first made her grumpy this year was the way the Swanspottle council had put signs up. “Swanspottle Welcomes Santa!” was on every road leading into the village. That meant it was on two, but to Griselda that was two too many.
So she decided it was time to make her opinion known.
She used her very best broomstick and flew straight to the Crown and Anchor where she strode into the main bar.
Thomas the Greek was busy polishing clean glasses with the rag he usually used for wiping the toilet clean. The regulars were all there, pretending to get drunk on the diluted beer that was the best the pub offered. Tom Coppley was vomiting in his corner and Janine Stretchmark was weeping silently to herself in hers.
“Bah humbug!” screeched Griselda.
The room became instantly silent.
“About time,” grumbled Thomas the Greek, “you’re a week late this year, Griselda!”
She fixed him with her eyes, both of them, and then crossed them.
“Christmas is cancelled this year…” he mumbled, and collapsed behind the bar.
Griselda grinned crookedly. “Drinks all round. On the house!” she cackled.
© Peter Rogerson 01.11.14


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