It’s all part of the joy of the build-up to Christmas
In her weekly column, Maddie Grigg shares tales from her life in rural Dorset . . .
IT’S twilight in Lush Places and, with my new-to-me Dr Marten boots squeaking as I amble across the village square, I wonder to myself if I can train them to sing a few Christmas carols.
If I managed that feat, it clearly would not be “Silent Night”. The racket they’re making is incredible, considering I’ve been trying to wear them in for several weeks.
I walk up the steps to the village green where I see the large fir tree shaking for all it’s worth.
I rub my eyes in astonishment. I’m thinking perhaps the tree has come to life and is just about to give me a good talking to about my noisy boots when I hear the low and muffled sound of men’s voices.
“Can you pass that around here a bit, Nobby?” It’s Mr Grigg from the depths of the tree’s branches.
Nobby Odd-job emerges from behind the tree and reaches up high with a string of lights.
A hand appears from the centre of the tree and grasps the lights. It goes on like this for the next 15 minutes or so, until the tree is draped with cord and Mr Grigg finally emerges from his lofty perch.
“There,” he says, gazing at his handiwork. “That looks better.”
“Better than what?” I ask. Nobby Odd-job shuffles his feet and looks down at the ground without making eye contact.
“It looks better than last year,” he says to me. “Your delightful husband told me off for how I decorated it. It’s his fault for not being here when we were meant to be putting them up.”
“Well,” I say, “the main thing is that you’ve tested them first, before going to all the trouble of putting them around the tree.”
I eye the tree up and down. We’re lucky to have it on the Lush Places green. It’s a beautiful tree, especially at Christmas.
“Tested them?” Nobby Odd-job asks, his voice a little thin.
“They’ll be fine,” Mr Grigg says, climbing down the ladder.
Nobby Odd-job glares at my husband.
“I told him he needed to test them first. He wouldn’t listen.”
So they decide to plug in the lights before the official “switch on” by DJ Landlord and Mrs Plum later this evening.
Nobby Odd-job takes the plug and puts it into the secret socket. Only Christmas lights organisers know where this goes and where the power comes from. As far as I’m concerned, it’s magic.
“Ta-da!” he says as the lights come on. And then promptly go off again.
“Blooming things,” Mr Grigg says. “I told you we should have tested them.”
Nobby Odd-job lets out a sigh of exasperation bigger than Devon.
This happens every year, so you think we would have learned by now. Still, it’s all part of the joy of the buildup to Christmas, as we get out the festive decorations, dust them off and decorate our village.
As Mr Grigg and Nobby Odd-job go back to the drawing board, I squeak down the village green in my DMS and watch as Champagne Charlie is up a ladder while his wife, Bubbles, barks instructions on how the tree lights need to be evenly distributed.
“Yes, dear,” he says, oblivious.
Across the road, Mrs Bancroft is waiting patiently for Nobby Odd-job and Mr Grigg to put up three trees in front of her house.
“You could be there for some time,” I say, pointing to the kerfuffle going on up on the green. The tree is shaking more than ever and, strangely, appears to be cursing.
“By the way,” I say to Mrs Bancroft, throwing a metaphorical pebble into a pond and watching for the ripples to appear, “I’ve bought myself a set of coloured lights. I’m fed up to the back teeth with the white ones we have every year.”
Mrs Bancroft, the gatekeeper of good taste, lets out a sigh of exasperation bigger than Yorkshire. ■
It’s time to dust off the decorations.