Christmas is all about the tree, isn’t it? I mean, there’s religion and Jesus and stuff, but essentially, it’s all about the tree. Once the lights are up and the baubles are gaily coruscating, it’s officially Christmas. Just like the first sense of Slade or the first perception of Wham. So, our Christmas ended today, six days short of Twelfth Night. The cards are still up, and there’s Christmas cake aplenty, but the tree has expired. It was shedding needles like a frightened porcupine and just had to go.
Now, when you’re lugging your tree home up the high street in a fit of seasonal euphoria, you don’t reflect on disposal. The reason you don’t do this is because, if you did, you wouldn’t have bought it in the first place. I say plastic next year, but I’ll doubtless be shouted down closer to the time.
So, I trussed the thing up, causing the remaining needles to evacuate the tree and covering myself in them at the same time. Once bound and gagged, it was reasonably manageable, and Mrs Disappointed suggested I carry it down the stairs. Now, I could have done that, and we could have duly hoovered up the trail of needles, but sometimes, you just get an idea in your head. Being a man is all about discreetly spicing one’s bland and quotidien reality with vain and vapid fantasies drawn from the life we’d like to have led.
So, I decided to fetch the parachute cord I had in my tool cave and lower the tree out of the window. (Yes, I do have parachute cord in my tool cave. And a WW2 khukri. There was also once a rolled up Saddam Hussein carpet, but that’s now gone…I still have the SAS respirator.) Anyway, the plan was simple, and if executed correctly, I wouldn’t land on the decking two floors below, impaled on a Nordic pine. I don’t agree with decking, incidentally, but it was there when we bought the house.
So, I tied the cord to the tree and lowered it gingerly out of the sash window. It had descended smoothly a good eight or nine feet with little to enter into the log book of concern. Mrs D gazed on with, I shall venture, a feint look of admiration. ‘Cometh the hour’, I thought… It was at that moment I noticed the wind seemed to be getting up a bit. I also noticed Mr Scumbag had followed his enormous, drooling status dog out onto his patio, whither he commenced his twice-daily crap – the dog, I mean. Though… Anyway, Mr Scumbag was just having one of his regular fag breaks. ‘Breaking’ from what, I couldn’t say. Jeremy Kyle, I’d guess.
In the time it’d taken me to log the above scenes, fortune and coastal meteorology had intervened to thwart my scheme to rather dramatic effect. I was nolonger casually playing out parachute cord, but wrestling a great, verdant pendulum, which was swinging violently from pole to pole. Mr Scumbag looked on aghast, very much in the manner in which I normally regard his augean garden. As he tossed his empty fag packet into the bath which served as water butt and general repository of detritus, things took a turn as Mrs D intervened.
“Haul it back in!”
Now, as the sage reader knows, such circumstance is the natural remit of man. This is his element, so to speak. The intervention of a lady is neither appropriate nor required. I had it, as they say, ‘covered’. As the drama played out, gently I bade Mrs D retire to the wings.
“Look, leave this to me, I know what I’m bloody well doing!”
That was a slight exaggeration, because, as with most masculine endeavours, I was making it up as I went along. Still, even in the midst of melodrama, it did occur to me, somewhat pleasingly, that the renowned strength of the parachute cord was proving its worth. Proof positive that the unbowed Home Counties buccanneer can apply surplus military consumables to more than a mere airborne assault… Ha!
I began, gingerly, to lower my writhing and twisting burden, eager to set it down with aplomb and dignity – and to avoid falling out of a second floor window. In fact, both objectives were somewhat interwoven. I glanced over with malicious curiosity toward Mr Scumbag, who was doubtless enjoying my travails all the more thanks to my recent abortive attempt to enlist the council in my crusade against his despicable patio. I wished I hadn’t looked away.
I refocussed upon the pendulous tree, just in time to see it skittle over my wife’s beloved fig tree and smash to infinity a number of terracotta pots. I knew Mr Scumbag would be enjoying this, but now knew better than to take my eye off the ball, and wrenched hard on the cord just in time to avert further destruction. Except, it didn’t. Avert further destruction, that is. The cord held alright, but my knot didn’t. Down came the tree, trunk first, denting the lid of the barbeque, knocking over a patio chair and coming to rest with its upper third jammed into the spokes of my bicycle. Clinging vainly to the now fluttering cord, I looked over just in time to see Mr Scumbag giving me the thumbs up as he pulled shut his patio door, mouthing, ‘Merry Christmas’ as he vanished.
Mrs D left the room, pointedly.
Sometimes we’re brought back brutally to earth… Still, it was good stuff, that parachute cord. I looked out of the window and then plodded somewhat despondently downstairs to disengage my bicycle from the Christmas tree. I stopped into the tool cave on the way. I knew that khukri would come in handy…