It’s not, I appreciate, immediately obvious where the story in this illustration lies – and it may, perhaps, be something peculiar to my own (recently ‘adopted’) family – so allow me to explain:
Having been elected, along with my (then) intended, to decorate my (future) father-in-law’s living room one Christmas – and accepting the task with not inconsiderable enthusiasm and a certain swaggering confidence in my bauble-distribution and tinsel-garlanding skills – I found I lacked a whole raft of unfamiliar decorating techniques that I then had to be inducted into the successful execution of before we could even begin. Principal among these was the suspending of foil lanterns (those slinky-type constructions, favoured by our forebears but still rife today…) from tinsel ropes extending from the corners of the room to the central light fitting. Simple, you might imagine. But the light fitting is not central – in either of the two regions into which the front room is divided – and the tinsel must be twisted to make it fluff out in a more opulent, festive fashion. And the drawing pins used to tack the tinsel in place should really find the original pin-holes created when those (now somewhat vintage) lengths of glittering decoration first hung from that ceiling – thus avoiding the curious wood-worm (more curious for it occurring in plasterwork…) effect that, despite successive decorators’ best efforts, is discernible in highly localized formations in corners and above picture frames.
These minor adversities in themselves could quite easily be overcome with the aid of a sizeable step ladder, a little elbow grease and some aesthetic nous. However, the aforementioned tinsel had been pre-cut into lengths which, attached in the correct configuration, will perfectly fit the two portions of the room – meeting seamlessly (well, almost) at the central light fittings. To aid the appointed decorator, a tiny label had been attached to the end of each length, intended to give instruction (well, more of a riddlesome clue) as to which diagonal location that piece should occupy. Unfortunately, not being the author of these labels (or certain we had oriented ourselves in the room, so that our left would be the very same ‘Left’ inscribed for our assistance) their meaning was occasionally a little ambiguous, being of a rather brief and – it seems – palindromic nature (‘Left Back Left’…). There was, consequently, much putting up and taking down, repositioning and variously-tautening of these tinsel fragments – remembering, the while, to re-twist between securing one end and fastening the other in place, for maximum light-reflecting festive sparkle… I am beginning to think that it was perhaps deliberately engineered as an elaborate and time-guzzling ruse to keep us out of the kitchen – where all the serious business (food-preparing, present-wrapping etc.) was being conducted – and, as such, was something of a triumph: parent 1 – offspring (and offspring’s fiancee) 0.
Embarking upon our very first Christmas as ‘smug marrieds’ (although I prefer ‘contentedly weds’) in our new-ish home, we are now instituting our own traditions and, as such, are mindful of the wisdom in adopting practices that require the most low-tech of ‘fixing’ media, minimal climbing apparatus, and negligible manual dexterity/ intellectual agility. Blu-tack and paper-chains it is, then…