You know, this week I was looking at the news web sites and discovered something which made my blood boil.
It was this; reports that 90 year old acting legend Mickey Rooney has been granted a temporary(?) restraining order against his step-son Christopher Alber, who’s mother is Rooney’s wife of 33 years, Jan (nee Chamberlin). 54 year old Alber has allegedly been “withholding food and medicine and interfering with his finances” and even, I quote;
“Mr. Alber is verbally abusive. He yells and screams at Mickey. Mickey is effectively a prisoner in his own home.”
A similar report from the New York Daily News added that,
“He threatens, intimidates, bullies and harasses Mickey. Mickey is extremely fearful that Chris will become physically threatening against Mickey and may even attempt to kidnap Mickey from his home.”
It’s also alleged that Aber confiscated Rooney’s passport and other identification cards. It’s difficult to surmise the whys and wherefores of this… but it makes my blood boil nonetheless.
“On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me
a partridge in a pear tree.”
So goes the first verse from one of England’s most well-known carols, the Twelve Days of Christmas. The twelve days of Christmas begin on St. Stephen’s Day (26th December) and continue until Twelfth Night; the evening of the 5th January and the night before Epiphany. Epiphany (6th January) celebrates the coming of the Magi and marks the end of the Christmas season, a tradition dating from medieval times.
You may be surprised to learn that the Twelve Days of Christmas was first written down in 1780. It was included in a children’s book named Mirth Without Mischief, and probably intended as a memory forfeit game to be played on Twelfth Night. The players would each recite a verse from memory and the first to make a mistake would be subject to a forfeit.
Picture the scene. It’s the week before Christmas and today is bitterly cold. Even though it’s not yet evening, darkness has well and truly fallen. If you braved the wintry weather tonight, you would soon see the stone walls of a church by the sea. Warm lights shine out invitingly from the windows and make patterns of the churchyard trees on the new-fallen snow.
Then, suddenly, the lights go out. If you went inside right now, you would see people of all ages lining the walls of the church, each holding an orange with a lit candle. The tiny lights show little else but the face of each bearer. And they all begin to sing.
A note in scrawly handwriting, found tucked into the pages of a very battered old copy of Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook:
Igorth are renowned for the thpeed and accurathy of their thurgical operathionth, and even more tho for the exthellent rethulth (and thould we thay, thurvival rateth). Patht patienth thing their praitheth, for an Igor’th accurate thtitching and attentionth to detail hath many a time been the differenth between life, death and thevere dithfigurementh.
There ith no prethent an Igor liketh more than any thpare organth or parth you may have lying around, but if you are looking for thomething extra thpecial for your Igor thith Hogthwatch, look no further than Igor’th caketh. A theathonal delicathy from Überwald, jutht like the Igorth it ith quick, flexthible and therveth up a treat!
I have returned from the frosty south; from the glitter, homemade pork pies and unrestrained quacking which could only be Hogswatch in the Year of the Happy Goose. I wish I could go back and do it all again. Having spent a long weekend in the company of some* of the Roundworld’s most wonderfully kind and warm-hearted people, a family who welcomed me with open arms… could you blame me?
In his post-celebratory address to the masses, Bernard Pearson spoke about being a member of the Discworld family, saying, “when winter comes you know what trees are evergreen”. This distinguished gentleman is famous for his way with words, but this is perhaps the most inspired thing he’s ever said.