The Remains of the Day

All over for another year. I have a house littered with crumpled wrapping paper, truly obscene amounts of chocolate, approximately 5 pounds of (slightly overdone) turkey, and a liberal scattering of plastic play-food. I am now in a position to inform you that a chunk of pretend cheddar taken hard in the sole of the foot is hard and bitter festive agony. I also have a broken laptop (I expect you heard my heartbroken wails from your house) and utterly non-performing email, so my Christmas has been singularly internet-free; I have just fought my way past towering heaps of malevolently sharp junk in order to locate the old and unreliable PC in the cold office.

Harry had a marvellous Christmas, and is highly delighted with both his kitchen and his playhouse. John also seemed to enjoy himself, and has spent several days scoffing and drinking inordinately.

 T.S. Eliot

Journey of the Magi

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wineskins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

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