The spirit of Christmas

Don’t know about you, but all the commercial nonsense that accompanies the season (from about September onwards!) does seem to get in the way of whatever true spiritual meaning the event is supposed to hold. So much so, that you can’t see one for the other at times…

Until we speak again, have a good one… whatever it looks like.

[Acknowledgements to Jamie Charteris for the image on my favourite Christmas card this year].

Feline felicitations

Juno and Bella were always partial to an event where tasty morsels would appear in abundance. So I’m sure they would be more than happy for those of you who are cat lovers to use the season of joy and giving as a time for sharing some of the plump bird with furry friends (even a dog or two if you have to!).

As a mark of the occasion, Cardiff presents its decorative side with a message of good will to all who stumble across this site. It seems we are home to some lost and confused reindeer…

castle

We even have some alien visitors who are more than likely lost in their search for intelligent life (particularly in the city centre during party season)…

duke-street

If you’re looking for a wooden shed as a gift to the man in your life, we have a surplus of the things left on the doorstep of the old library…

old-library

And if it’s rain you’re looking for, we are the UK capital of the wet stuff…

st-mary-street

Until we speak again, Juno and Bella will forever do their impression of an old Smith & Jones sketch (older UK readers may get that reference)…

cats-banner

 

The Battle of Christmas

What's that?It’s the time of year when families get together and try desperately not to beat the crap out of each other, or so I’m told; as mine is brimful of decorum.

‘In-house numpty’s’ Junior 2.0  has just left after a visit across xmas, so now we can return to drawing our usual battle lines… they don’t share enough of the good food, and I might just miss the litter tray on the odd occasion!

Must remember not to go so far as to make it look like some serious disease-thing though; otherwise I might be dragged off to the vet in that strange cage thing left out in the passageway as some kind of humanoid threat. Is that the best they can do?

Anyway, I digress with these deliciously wicked thoughts and future plans of retribution. “Tis the season to be jolly” they keep saying on the talking box in the corner of the room. What was more interesting on my recent visit to the local mega cultural centre (aka the Millennium Centre) was a true recognition of the challenge this time of year presents for so many people. It seems that one of the key messages in Cardiff this year reflects a sense of reality… seasons greetings are reserved ‘Only for the Brave’!

Brave xmasUntil we speak again this Bella is puzzling over what the overhead spectre in the Millennium Centre in Cardiff is meant to represent. Any suggestions welcomed on the back of a postcard.

Nadolig Llawen

It’s the time of year when Cardiff has to look deep inside itself… to find three wise men. But, if its wisdom you’re in search of just look up (no great discoveries emerged from looking on the floor all day, except unsolicited gifts from the rear end of dogs that is). Star Wars might be the ‘in thing’ at the cinema, but who would have thought that Cardiff will find a unique way of reminding you!

No 3 wise men!

It has become all the rage in recent years for German Christmas Markets. At least it provides something to do with all of those surplus sheds since the downturn in the economy; or is it a sign that the modern re-constructed man spends more time in the kitchen and in front of the bathroom mirror, and less time in the shed? The monotonous selection of wood winds its way around many parts of The Hayes, but try to find anything of use in any of them?

Festive Quarter [2]

 

The presence of a windmill does little to celebrate the German origin of the whole tradition…

Festive Quarter [1]

But fear not, when hunger bites the German sausage can be relied on to come to the rescue (or is this a convenient location to offload your badly behaved children?)…

Festive Quarter [3]Having dumped the minor irritants in the vicinity of a sausage making machine it’s time to catch up on some of that much-needed liquid refreshment. Why not try the Moose Head Bierkeller? Provided you can navigate the Canada and Germany cultural collision you might be surprised to find a full range of non-Canadian and non-German fayre. The ubiquitous Welsh flag and Union Jack are on hand to resolve any geographical cognitive dissonance at this point!

Festive Quater [4]So all that’s left to do is stagger home by the light of the understated seasonal illuminations…

The Hayes [1]

St Mary Street

Xmas is about?Which just leaves this home-based Bella time to reflect on the true meaning of this time of year. Is it something to do with the fairy tales that emerge from the dark tower at the heart of the pious city? Or should I just practice my look of utter surprise as Santa comes down the non-existent chimney?

X-ray eyes

 

 

 

 

Until we speak again have a merry christmas, or Nadolig Llawen as a few of the locals around here are occasionally heard to say.

A christmas message for QE2

Dear smile-free zone, the President and Vice-President of my fan club were delighted with your card on the occasion of their 60th wedding anniversary, but I am reliably informed by my resident ‘Welsh Republican‘ that the photograph looks a bit formal and poker-faced. So, I thought I would cheer you up a bit on this festive occasion with a couple of pictures of my compatriots… some might tolerate this nonsense but your ‘local detractor‘ tried to get me into one of these poses and can now be contacted at the local hospital in the vicious lacerations department for their efforts.

Talking of ill-fitting circumstances, I was wondering how the Greeko-Germanic axis was functioning in your marriage these days? I get the distinct impression from various news sources that this type of relationship usually takes the form of German supremacy with a sprinkling of unorthodox Greek political incorrectness… does this sound familiar? Not difficult to see who wears the headscarf of power in central London, and who risks a beheading if he steps out of line:

 v 

Your ancestry seem to have cornered the xmas market; in fact German christmas markets are the rage everywhere, even here in Cardiff:

Xmas [3]

As for the perplexing question of what you buy the monarch who has everything for christmas, it seems that the good people of Cardiff have wrapped a castle (as if you didn’t have enough already!):

Xmas [4]

Royal arcade xmas [2]

They have a Royal Arcade in these parts and seem to have found a setting to use up a number of spare light bulbs…

But, also in honour of your historically dis-functional family there is an icy scene to greet you on the Hayes:

Hayes xmas [3]

 

 

 

All-in-all it seems like christmas in Cardiff this year is struggling to find any wise men (particularly at the local football club, with the exception of the local messiah Malky Mackay), but there is no shortage of stars to guide late night revellers down ‘inebriation walk’:

Xmas [5]

 

And in keeping with the Dr Who 50th year celebrations there even seem to be a few ethereal stars floating around the city centre in search of a TV christmas special to participate in:

XMAS [1]

 

I have been Juno, and before we speak again I wish you seasonal greetings; but I intend being busy at 3.00pm on christmas day away from any TV, so send your reply in the form of a New Year honour for me to graciously decline.

A Dumbfuckistan Christmas

With rotting thanksgiving turkey drumsticks littering the yard a whole three weeks after they had been discarded Clint Junior III knew it was time to get in his demands for christmas before the younger competition cottoned on to the annual ritual. After all, his younger siblings Earl, Cheyenne, Savannah and Walt still seemed distracted by the imminent arrival of the triplets (already named Sky, Harper and Brett II even before the gender of each is known). Seems like one more local dude from the neighbourhood bars has unwittingly gone out for a few Buds on a March night only to become the unsuspecting star of a Father Christmas Horror Show nine months later. But Clint Jnr. was nothing if not resourceful, and knew it probably meant one more sucker to roll, down on his luck in guilt city. The local cats are busy welcoming the festive season in with traditional style:

        

But on one of his rare sojourns into school, in search of a pack of Lucky Strikes, Clint Jnr. had recently lucked upon a strange tale about christmas, something about wise-asses and a star opening up the door to loads of gifts. He may not have been the largest wing in the bucket but he had a sixth sense when it came to personal gain for minimal effort. If he could spell out this story to all the family, as they gather around the daily delivery of a grease mountain from the Colonel’s Giblet Shack, he would be in the driving seat… he gets first dibs when it comes to staking a claim on the spending of the welfare check down at the local mart.

  Aunt Ruby and Aunt Krystal were always first to arrive at the smell of the chicken and fries, and always had their own unique ways of interrupting a story with their own interpretation. Clint Jnr. only has to make the merest suggestion that three wise men are on the scene when Ruby shrieks “I remember them… it’s George, Don and Dick.” To which Krystal can’t help but spit a few fries across the table trying to remember which Dick… “There were so many…”.

Who needs a horse’s ass for a manger when you have Dumbfuckistan’s finest on hand? Clint Jnr. remembered the story had a star and a hill or something that the wise men were trying to get back to, but was more distracted by the idea that the kid in the house gets all the presents. Ruby downs another Rolling Rock, belches for attention-seeking effect, and announces that she has solved the puzzle… without any thought of irony she says “Jesus, that star must be Obama; how did he become a messiah? I heard that Washington joint is a bit of a stable. Come back Dick and George and Don… grant Clint Jnr. all his christmas wishes.”

Clint Jnr. licked the grease from his fingers, and lead the crescendo of praise around the table and worn out armchairs for their place in the land of the brave and the free… “This christmas I think I would like a personally monogrammed drone.” he said, as he grew ever more comfortable into a vision of yet another all-American defender of the constitution. He was rapidly outgrowing the Remington 12 gauge shotgun and Smith & Wesson handgun he received last christmas. As the warmth of christmas spirit filled the land, all in the National Riffle Association could raise a glass to their latest convert. Meanwhile every self-respecting parent should be thinking more seriously about personal home tuition for the kids, instead of enrolling into the local state sponsored target range (aka school).

Personally, I have been Juno, and until we meet again I am glad I live where I do.