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A Potter's Moll: A Three-Foot Column Of Flame

...A couple of weeks ago I got up at 6 am to go to the loo and as I crossed the landing I heard an insistent noise which it eventually dawned on me was the smoke alarm in the kitchen. When I opened the living room door, I was confronted by a three-foot column of flame rising from the coffee table....

Liz Robison’s festive season was certainly not lacking in home-grown drama.

Do visit the Web site of Liz’s potter husband Jim Robison http://www.jimrobison.co.uk/


Season’s Greetings. What a useful phrase for me to use when my pre-Christmas column is being written the day after Boxing Day. Rushing around trying to get everything done and to see as many people as possible has resulted in this being the first day for weeks that I seem to have seen daylight.

A couple of weeks ago I got up at 6am to go to the loo and as I crossed the landing I heard an insistent noise which it eventually dawned on me was the smoke alarm in the kitchen. When I opened the living room door, I was confronted by a three-foot column of flame rising from the coffee table. Fortunately, I was able to douse it, and the source was an imperfectly blown out candle, in a (now shattered) glass bowl, surrounded by ‘gold’ stars, which turned out to be very flammable plastic.

My husband appeared saying he had heard the noise for a while but had thought it was a car alarm outside. We left doors and windows open till the smoke cleared, but then we realised the extent of the greasy sooty residue that was everywhere in our open plan living room/kitchen/study. Every pot and every book was covered as well as furniture and floors, and we are still finding the odd deposit weeks later

However – could be worse, as they say, and thank goodness for smoke alarms. It was only the next day I remembered that I should have been reading the first lesson at 10 am that morning at the U3A Carol Service in Huddersfield Parish Church.

A lovely experience in December was the last day of sailing before the boats come in for the winter at Huddersfield Sailing Club. Husband Jim was Race Officer for the day so I decided to go with him and spent the afternoon in the tower overlooking a local reservoir called Bowshaw Whams.

Once I had conquered my vertigo to climb up two ladders into the tower, the view was magical across the water with small clouds reflected in it and moorhens, ducks and a heron doing their thing. The surrounding hilly countryside looked striking with its irregular patterns of dry stone walls snaking around and it was funny to see only the roofs of cars along the lanes as I looked down.

The one of two elements sailors require though was sadly missing – wind, and the few hardy souls out sailing took ages to complete the course.

As a matter of interest the tower is made from the top two sections of the original Emley ITV mast which collapsed under the weight of ice in the 1960’s.

I visited, with hundreds of others, Castle Howard, near York to see it decorated for Christmas. There were the most beautiful Christmas trees I have ever seen, including an eighteen-foot high one under the dome in the entrance hall. Looked down upon from the stairs above, the hall looked splendid with its huge open fire and banks of poinsettias.

I was tickled to hear from one of the room stewards that the present owner has seven year old twins splendidly named Merlin and Octavia, and amused by the story that when the owner acquired a dog from the Battersea Dogs’ Home he had to fill in a form which asked amongst other things, how many bedrooms he had in his house.

I pinched a friend’s idea of setting a limit of £10 on family Christmas presents this year as we had all had a lot of expense in the past twelve months. It worked brilliantly with much thoughtful ingenuity in evidence. My contributions included ‘Mum’s Manky (mango) Chutney’ and ‘Liz’s Lemon Curse (Only joking!)’

Jim’s birthday falls on New Year’s Eve so that is something to celebrate – I dislike the mindlessness of large scale New Year’s Eve celebrations, and will draw a veil over a hideous Hogmanay once spent in a seedy hotel in Edinburgh. Happy New Year to all readers of Open Writing.

Did you hear about the dyslexic devil-worshipper who sold his soul to Santa?

More from me in a fortnight.

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