And there came a decree from Caesar Augustus … part 1 was published here yesterday.


It seems to me that there will be some sort of reckoning in the New Year and that local and national political figures will increasingly come under pressure, particularly with local elections on the horizon. Upsetting the plans of millions of people months before elections are due could well cause a political upheaval not seen before, certainly in living memory.

I wonder too how the tens of thousands of people who have not been supported by the chancellor and his mantra of ‘we are all in this together’, particularly if you work in the public services, will feel when council tax rises hit the mat, along with what looks like the inevitable tax rises on everything else, to pay for all this spending on the public sector, which does not, as is already evident, provide better services, but reduced spending and fewer services.  Tell me, they may well say, just how many people in the local council and the civil service are threatened with redundancy or have received pay cuts.

Maybe the often-smug middle-income earners who inhabit much of the civil service, local government and the administrative legions of the NHS (surely the world fastest growing religion these days) need to wake up and smell the coffee – or as the HRH Duke of Edinburgh was often reported as saying when younger – ‘pull your finger out’.  Ninety-nine years old, wheeled out of retirement apparently, to congratulate the teaching class for their efforts this year.  Good for him I say, but it might be nice if, just for once, somebody came out of retirement or anywhere else for that matter and thanked, say, the bread delivery driver whom I have seen every morning bar none throughout this year driving his truck to local supermarkets, or the courier drivers who without fail have delivered on time, along with supermarket delivery drivers, posties, refuse collectors and the always unmentioned retail workers and small business owners who have worked tirelessly to keep our towns going without acclaim.  These are the people who are eventually going to bring our towns and cities back to life.  In my view it’s about time they got some recognition for their efforts, and I don’t mean some politician mouthing platitudes or the award of some meaningless third-rate gong.

Certainly, Christmas is going to be different this year, although Granny doesn’t seem too bothered that her offspring and grandspring are out to kill her.  Despite not going out on a limb to be reckless, they are taking reasonable precautions.  One elderly lady was telling me as we stood in the street in the take-away coffee queue, that her eldest daughter and grandson arrive first from Wales where they live and the other son and daughter in law, complete with their two, fly in on Tuesday from Austria. Presumably following the latest Prime Ministerial announcement of restrictions that will all have to change as they now can only stay for the day.  Multiplied by the thousand across the country I wonder how that will play out.  I suggest that police ‘snitch lines’ may well be very busy over the next few days.

Odd in this multi-gender multi-whatsit world that the BBC and advertisers all tell us that we live in, it’s always Granny that we are going to visit and kill and not Grandad.  I’ve no idea why.  Perhaps grandads have some sort of immunity or have all been killed off or carted off to be incarcerated in care homes where, if they are lucky, they are able to smile and wave at relations through plate glass windows which in our topsy-turvy Christmas is all they can hope for this year.

Anyway, some sort of Christmas is under way, although to be honest it doesn’t feel much like it.  We, like many, have the usual Christmas tree, decorations and lights about the place, nothing too over the top, you understand.  This is, after all St. Mary on the Wold where thankfully most of the residents are restrained with their outdoor lights and decorations, although we do have one house sporting an inflatable 20-foot high Santa Claus and a reindeer covered in white lights, but from what I’ve seen in other areas that’s quite restrained.

This year blue lights seem not to be in vogue, all seem to be either white or red, which did actually cause old John, our resident character, to make a ribald comment as he passed by on the way to the local shop.  Fortunately, there was only me within ear-shot so no harm to anyone’s feelings was occasioned.  One has to be so careful before saying anything these days, doesn’t one?  Although some good news, it seems, following a court decision this week, a ‘landmark’ ruling has been made which actually states the right of freedom of speech must include the right of freedom to offend.  So, there you have it, you can offend somebody presumably so long as it’s not a racist or hate-based comment, but do you have to give or take offence? you may well muse, but either way it seems that ‘they’ can’t touch you for it.

At a loss to find a film to watch the other evening that was interesting, had some sort of plot and an ending and no over the top violence sexuality or anything else that may have caused Granny to blush, we found ourselves watching a film from the early 50s.  Following which Mrs Norman and I started reminiscing about Christmases past when, amongst other things, there was no great fuss about visiting Granny, you either visited or not, in our case we did, usually on Christmas Eve.  Older readers may remember there was no great hue and cry about going out to dinner somewhere.  Turkey or goose served at home in rooms festooned with homemade paper chains, paper balls all carefully folded after Christmas and kept safely and brought out the next year.  No designer colour coordinated Christmas trees in the 1950s!

There is a rumour at the moment that Father Christmas will be doing his usual drive through the village during the next few days.  This is a traditional ritual here and has raised money for local charities for many, many years. (Well, there was the unfortunate incident a few years back when the sleigh was stolen from the barn where it is kept during the rest of the year.  Happily it was found abandoned not far away and after some running repairs all was well.)  As of yet, the other local ritual of ‘let’s pull down and vandalise the communal Christmas tree on the green’ has not yet taken place – obviously a highlight of the year for some people as it also has taken place since time immemorial.


Will carol singing be held this year? Find out in part 3 of And there came a decree from Caesar Augustus … in tomorrow’s Independence Daily.

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