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A Potter's Moll: Be Always At War With Your Vices And At Peace With Your Neighbours

…This year my friend Lesley sent a card that was in the shape of a triangular Christmas tree with phrases and mottoes that got longer as the triangle got wider. So it began with JOY at the top, and the last line was: ‘Be always at war with your vices and at peace with your neighbours.’ – a good rule for the new year …

Liz Robison
looks back with pleasure on Christmas, 2006.

Liz’s husband Jim is an internationally-renowned potter. Please do visit his Web site http://www.jimrobison.co.uk/

Happy New Year! It does not seem two minutes since the millennium and already you hear people referring to the twentieth century as if it was ancient history. Tempus fugit.

There has been much hyped discussion recently over how to express greetings at this time of year. Obviously Christians wish you a Happy or Merry Christmas, but for those of us with a more agnostic tendency, I like Season’s Greetings because it is inclusive and you can use it right up to the New Year. As a supporter of Amnesty International, of Welsh descent, with friends in many different parts of the world, I find their Christmas cards are just right as they have Season’s Greetings in nine languages.

Our best cards each year are always the homemade ones or ones with photographs on them. There’s always one from a 92 year old friend in Michigan who has been making cards since 1969 out of the brown paper sacks you get your groceries in at American supermarkets. This year my friend Lesley sent a card that was in the shape of a triangular Christmas tree with phrases and mottoes that got longer as the triangle got wider. So it began with JOY at the top, and the last line was: ‘Be always at war with your vices and at peace with your neighbours.’ – a good rule for the new year. It also bore the wish: ‘May all your troubles last as long as your new year’s resolutions.’

I also liked the Christmas cracker-style joke: Which of Santa’s reindeers has bad manners? Everyone goes through the names they can remember – Donner, Blitzen, Dasher etc, but of course the answer is Rude-olph!

On the potting scene, January and February are quiet months, though as I write this husband Jim is working away in his studio on a commission for a lady in Glossop who wants a landscape panel for her conservatory. Then we hope to go to Wales for a few days.

One of the great pleasures of our Christmas this year was playing card and board games with our 5 year old grand-daughter. It is fascinating to see her learn the ‘rules’ and trying to learn that it is the enjoyment that counts, not the winning. It also made me realise how much my grandfather must have indulged me all those years ago when we played draughts.

I am thoroughly enjoying Alan Titchmarsh’s volume of memoir about his childhood in Ilkley, Nobbut a Lad. He has such a way with words, although he does remember his English teacher sometimes writing: ‘Too much imagination, Titchmarsh’ in the margin in red biro. I can remember being pleased with the following sentence in a piece of writing when I was at school: ‘Now he has reached the top of the ladder, he can reap the harvest of his success.’ The teacher’s red remark in the margin was: ‘What were they? Hollyhocks?’

One of my pet hates about our modern life is packaging. I bought a ruler the other day, which was shrink-wrapped and the assistant then went to put it in a paper bag. The mountains of waste we create was brought home after Christmas by a cartoon which in the first frame showed a Christmas tree with all the wrapped presents underneath. The next frame showed the same tree dwarfed by a huge pile of wrapping and packaging from the presents.

I hate plastic bags and now always take my own fabric ones when I go shopping – a shame for the Scouts, raising funds by packing folk’s purchases into endless plastic bags.

I also hate fashion photography but will save that rant for another column. I love winter walks in weak sunshine so I’m off on one now. More in a fortnight.

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