I write this in the early hours of the morning. The sky is perfectly clear as midnight comes - not a creature is stirring. The only sound disturbing the peace around Homeward is an intermittent but loud droning sound - Beaver Hateman is snoring.
It is very difficult to concentrate on my literary efforts with that racket going on.
My Christmas Eve party was a huge success, if I say so myself, and all my guests are replete and fast asleep.
It was a great evening. The Great Fire around the Big Tree made the snow for yards around rose-coloured. The lights on the tree made a great pyramid of colour against the walls of Homeward. Even the Badfort Crowd, for once, added a picturesque touch, for they had made torches out of old rags wrapped around bits of wood and dipped them in scob-oil before lighting them.
Hateman was quite nice, for a change, and told me I had organised a good flare-up. He moaned a bit about having to drink Hot Joey but said he could lace it with Black Tom.
I made a short speech telling my guests that if they climbed the tree they would find presents. Surprisingly, the Badfort Crowd did not try to take more than one each.
We then had a mighty feast and followed it with songs.
Every Christmas Noddy Ninety likes to give a rendition of his action song 'At the Gates of Metz' also known as "On a Bitter Winter's Night". Ninety says he was educated in Germany, at Metz. Nobody is old enough to contradict him. For an old man Noddy Ninety has a piercing voice. Every word could be heard above the crackling of the great fire. On a bitter winter's night By the gates of METZ I waited in the fading light, In my torn VEST.
Only just across the way, Was a sausage SHOP But it was no good to me, Pfennigs I had NOT.
There are lots of verses to this song and when he has finished nothing satisfies him but to start all over again. He did so this time with the verse:
On a bitter winter's night By the gates of ULM I waited in the fading light, With my fingers NUMB.
Suddenly I heard a voice The night was black as PITCH 'Come up here, you hungry ones, And share my fish and CHIPS.'
Good old Burgomaster Griff Fills me up with OATS, Puddings, ham and bannocks grilled Slices of hot ROAST.
Yesterday I came this way Loaded down with ANGST Now I celebrate the day Full of joy and THANKS
The Badfort Crowd followed this with some dubious song of their own but at this point I decided to make sure the fireworks were all ready for the off and slipped away.
Once again, Cowgill had arranged a beautiful display that delighted my guests.
Must sign off now - I can hear the bells of Santa's sleigh above the roofs of Homeward. We always like to share a sherry and reminisce about Christmases past.