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.

11 Responses

  1. Jolly well done. All survived. Excellent. And to finish it all off with a spot of T.S. Eliot at his best and gloomiest, fabulous. I still want to run away to Gretna Green with you. Shall we decorate the cake with lichen?

    Does plastic cheddar hurt as much as lego? Because lego can draw blood, if stepped on smartly enough on a tiled floor with no carpet to absorb some of the hideous pointy impact.

    And off to sacrifice some time and effort on the altar of my own In-Laws. Hurrah.

  2. Ouch, on both the cheese and laptop front. I cam back from holiday to discover my beloved macbook sulking from me not taking it with me. It took a whole evening of coaxing to persuade the internet browser to launch, and the battery has bitten the dust well and truly.

  3. sorry to hear about the various trials and tribulations, but rejoiced in the poetry, thank you.

  4. Ooooh, the TS gloom hit just the right note for my own private pity party regarding my current lack of perambulation skills. Thanks. *Quickly smacks self around ears*

    And, all the way across the world, MY laptop has carked it in sympathy with yours, clearly.

  5. PS. I wouldn’t mind a silken girl bringing me sherbet right about now.

  6. My internet is on the fritz in solidarity.

    Have geriatric carrier pigeon doing it’s very best instead.

    Le sigh…


  7. Ah it’s geohde.

    Long story about two wordpress accounts and slack poster….

  8. Boy do I lurve me some Eliot… Not bad for a sci-fi nerd!

  9. What happened to the laptop?!

  10. And here’s to a 2009 with many more hairy farmer family tales. I to would like the sherbert girl…and re the plastic cheddar, are you sure it wasn’t one of those Baby Cheeses?

  11. I have been so bad at keeping up with everyone but wanted to jump on and wish you a Super Christmas and even better New Year. I hope 2009 brings you all you want and much more!


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