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Smallville: Two More Days To Christmas

“...We’re bringing the Turkey and Tinsel program forward; party games, our own singers and dancers. It’ll be just like Christmas...” But Peter B Farrell was looking forwards to a Big Band Week.

A few months ago we met up with some regulars at Mahler’s the local restaurant; a popular haunt for people of a certain generation, namely those who remember ration books and the winter of ‘47.

“Anyway, Roy had a dizzy spell in Iceland, we had to phone for a doctor.” The startling news that our friends had ventured so far North distracted me from my usual witty repartee with the young waitress.

“You were on your usual cruise?” I asked. I thought they normally floated around the Mediterranean. Blank looks all around the table.

“Iceland, the freezer-shop next door to Superdrug.“ My wife sounded exasperated and I quickly led the conversation back to Roy‘s recovery.

I had never been able to keep up with Roy and Joan. Years before they had informed us of their holiday plans.

“Turkey and tinsel.”

It wasn’t until after the festive season was over that I discovered that their destination was a four-day visit to York and not the exotic land of mosques and minarets that I had envisaged.

All was made clear when we took a short holiday last September on the East Coast. The resort catered for the retired only; cheap, with chalet accommodation and live entertainment from a resident team of dancers, singers and comedians. The weather was exceptionally good and we were in the habit of finishing off the daily round of archery, bowls and outdoor chess with a cooling drink in the Bar.

“Good King Wencelas last looked out...” On the final day we were startled to see the staff in the ballroom in the throes of a rehearsal for a Christmas Show. Carols sung by a quartet, dancers tapping out the rhythm, clad in ermine, Snow white without the vertically challenged whilst everyone else was putting up Christmas decorations.

“It’s still September.” Or is it?

Out of curiosity I sought out the following week’s program; Christmas Eve, Christmas day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve:
The restaurant, ballroom and bar area will be decorated with holly, mistletoe, streamers and balloons.

We’d seen that.

Enjoy a glass of mulled wine and meet the entertainments team.

We had met them already, an enthusiastic crowd of young people just out of stage school.

Party games with the resident comedian, Santa Claus will appear, ho, ho, ho. Traditional fare will be served in the restaurant including mince pies, Christmas pudding...

A Cholesterol time bomb.

A Pantomime will be performed...

Oh no it wouldn’t!

Oh yes it would.

As well as carol singing and variety shows, the whole event will climax on New Years Eve with the singing of “Auld lang syne”

I preferred New York, New York.

My sympathies lay with the staff. it baffled me that they carry on the same round of dancing, singing, and joking for almost three months without losing their enthusiasm. As for the kitchen staff...

The end of the school holidays is the time for the retired to head off in all directions and we were no exception. Our friends Ken and Sheila were travelling by motor coach for a fortnight in Spain, the tortuous itinerary included sleeping in the coach all the way to the Costa del Sol.

“Eighteen hours there, same coming back.” Ken sounded positively enthusiastic.

Ruth and Brian had booked a cruise round the Scottish lochs. “Get to the airport for 3 a.m. Fly to Edinburgh on the 4 o‘clock, then coach to the West coast to catch the early morning ferry, breakfast onboard.”

Our destination was a mere 40 miles away, a leisurely drive to the East Coast around midday. We had booked a midweek break at the holiday complex featuring “The Battle of the Bands”, an annual event that we regularly attended. Four days of swing and dance music of the 1950s to look forward to.

With only two days to go I produced the checklist.

“Must take the training shoes; perhaps a bit of jogging or an early morning session in the gym.” This was an opportunity to tone up.

“Swimming gear, have you got that down?“ My wife’s preference was swimming and we fully intended to make use of all the activities available.

“Mainly salads I think, we can always eat plenty of fruit .“ We would be careful when choosing from the lunch menu. We could always indulge slightly in the evening.

Sunglasses, umbrella, camera, hairdryer, mobile phone...

“Don’t forget your tablets.” My wife had been prescribed several to keep her blood pressure and cholesterol level down.

The Post brought bad news. The Holiday Company had changed the program, which according to the small print they were quite entitled to do.

“Why the change, It’s always been Big Band week. We booked months ago?” I was instantly on the telephone.

“Not enough interest or support, we had to cancel. To make it more attractive we are having a Party break; there will be a band and entertainment every evening...“ The young lady sounded reassuring.

“...We’re bringing the Turkey and Tinsel program forward; party games, our own singers and dancers. It’ll be just like Christmas...”

Should we send Christmas cards?

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