Meet El Thicko.

June 17, 2016

Red Squirrel 2

When it comes to acquiring food, we have come to associate squirrels as the grand master of the ‘Free Lunch’ whether it is appearing cute in a public park,Begging Squirrel   Begging !

 

Park

Stealing from bird feeders Stealing

To the grand Olympics

They are the champions, well mostly…Please allow me to introduce the exception that proves the rule, I give you El Thicko who has to be the dumbest squirrel I have ever come across.

Red Squirrel 3

OK long story, slightly shortened version, I suppose like everyone else I look at the various antics of squirrels as cute. However, here in the UK we have two distinct types, the native Red and the imported upstart the Grey.Red Squirrel gray squirrel

Unfortunately, the Grey Squirrel is a little larger and therefore stronger than the Red. The Grey has no natural predators and has therefore managed to out-compete the Reds for food and territory, displacing the Red in large tracts of land in the UK. What is even worse for the native Red squirrel is that the Grey squirrels carry the deadly squirrelpox virus, which is fatal to the Reds.

In most places, especially in the countryside the Grey can be extremely destructive to young trees and are considered as pests and vermin. In remote pockets where the Red squirrel has a tenuous foothold, there are even measures to try to eradicate the Greys to give the natives a better chance of survival.

Here on the Isle of Wight we are lucky, being an island it is a Stronghold for the Red however, the odd Grey does find its way to the Island every now and then. It is actually illegal to bring a grey squirrel into red squirrel territory and the penalty is up to 2 years imprisonment or £5,000 fine.

Anyway back to my new friend, El Thikco, here on the island, the Islanders are naturally proud of being a sort of remote outpost and host to the Red squirrel population and they do everything imaginable to help and encourage them. This includes a variety of road signs (sign image ) although I have to admit I cannot imagine El Thicko learning to drive, slowly or otherwise.

Sorry, I digress there are a number of squirrel feeders on the market squirrel feeder they look a bit like a bird box but without the hole. Also unlike bird feeders, there is no gravity feed so you actually have to lift the lid to get to the food inside. Not exactly, Rocket Science and you would think for a squirrel something akin to a stroll in the park.

Not for El Thicko, he is to Squirrels what I am to the art of DIY, not the smartest on the planet. Yet in the great British spirit of ‘Doing my Bit’ taking my life in my hands with ladder and power tools, I eventually got the new feeder in place.

I did that weeks ago and although El Thicko has paid a few inspection visits he carried on with his normal routine of hurtling up or down the tree at a great rate of knots not bothering to stop. I had the feeling that he may have originally been annoyed that I had deliberately put the stupid box thing in his way.

Anyway, the lid is on a simple hinge, which squirrels are supposed to master after a few simple tries, the lid is top heavy so it closes by itself after the visit keeping the food dry.

In an effort to help and or educate I used a small stick to hold the lid up, I even put a few nuts out on the little platform as a hint. It kinda worked, he arrived at his usual speed, en-route to the treetop but obviously the free nuts got his attention and he stopped for a snack. He also must have seen the open hatch and went for a closer look knocked the stick out of the way the door dropped and in his panic, he fell off the platform.

Round two, I replaced the stick with a pinecone and a couple of days ago I noticed it had gone; when I looked closer I found it on the ground mostly eaten. Thicko had taken the pinecone and the door closed on him again.

Round three; I replace the pinecone and the next time I found it gone I noticed the platform had bits of chewed nuts on it, so he obviously went in for a feed before grabbing the cone as a takeaway.

Yet again, I replaced the cone, you can see it in the picture behind his left ear.100_2352

He is now actually eating the nuts, after he left I noticed he has worked out what the pine nut was for and left it for next time.

The good news is, as at yesterday El Thicko has puzzled it out and finally joined all the dots.

True he had another scare fighting to free the pinecone only this time he was half-ready for the gravity attack because I saw his back legs were firmly on the tree.

The lid closed behind him and dropping the cone he returned to the platform sitting there for a while staring into space as well as the pinecone on the ground. His next move was running a little way up the tree turning around and looking at the lid from above before coming back down and sitting on the lid.

When that didn’t do anything he went back to the platform, this time when he turned round I think he must have hit the lid with his head because two seconds later he was in.

So I’m hoping that he or she is at least smart enough to find a mate and bring them to tea, if they manage to hang onto their territory then they will have a ready supply of nuts for the winter.

Just so long as El Thicko remembers the combination of the nut safe !

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The Clock Is Ticking

January 27, 2016

World-s-Doomsday-Clock-Now-Shows-3-Minutes-to-Midnight-470994-3
Over the years I have often been painted as a cold hearted pessimist, when in my own defence I considered myself as something of a realist.

Spotting a possible correlation between the time lines of the 200 years since the Industrial Revolution, a population explosion from one to seven billion and a pattern of climate change brought nothing but derision.
Population

I watched the world divide into two camps, “we need to do something”. “We need to do nothing”. I felt like Butch Cassidy in that movie when he said “ I have vision and the rest of the world wears sun glasses”. That and given the fact that the world is run by committees, I consoled myself with the simple thought that, “as a species we were screwed and because of us so was the vast majority of all animal life on the planet”.

Of course I can’t claim to be smarter than the average, far from it, but I’m smart enough to notice when a cart load of manure is heading for the fan factory. Plus of course it is just possible that I was picking up the vibes of the group of scientists who also think we may well be on a one way journey to extinction.

Starting with Albert Einstein who after the first nuclear weapon was used in war said “Everything has changed, save the way we think.” Unless we change the way we think, humanity remains in serious danger”.

Well here’s a heads up for Ya’all, we have not changed our way of thinking, not one iota, unless, like me, you consider we have changed for the worst. For example most people these days consider a disaster is defined by their inability to get a broadband signal for more than a couple of minutes.

Back in the 1940’s a group came up with the The ‘Doomsday Clock’ as a scientific indicator for how close humanity was to global catastrophe. This was symbolised as a clock face showing the hands as they approached midnight, midnight being of course the end of the world.

In 1947 the hands stood at 7 minutes to midnight. In 1949 when the then USSR exploded their first nuclear device the hands slipped to 3 minutes. The worst it has ever been was in midnight 1953: After much debate, the United States decides to pursue the hydrogen bomb, a weapon far more powerful than any atomic bomb when it stood at a very dangerous 2 mins to midnight.

Since then we have seen our fair share of Good News, Bad News scenarios with the hands of the clock flowing to and fro until in 1991 when with the Cold War officially over and the United States and Russia beginning to make deep cuts to their nuclear arsenals. The world breathed a big sigh of relief and the clock moved back to its all-time best position of 17 mins to midnight.

So what happened since then ? Someone took their eye off the ball that’s fer damn sure….

Did we just get complacent or just stopped thinking we were all going to be blown to hell an go back to… what …where ?
Well I’ve got some bad news for everybody because that Doomsday clock is still ticking and nobody seems to have noticed but it has moved forward again and now stands at 3 minutes to midnight once more.

GASP! HORROR ! How can this have happened ? Why ? Well lets’ see, for starters the well won Super Power agreements of the early 90’s seemed to have grown older without germinating. Nuclear weapons are still high on the shit list with both the USA and Russia embarked upon a modernisation programme. Let’s not forget the un checked climate change problem.

Here is the list, the reason why we are so close to Midnight on the clock, this is not my list but one from the “Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board”.

Leaders must dramatically reduce proposed spending on nuclear-weapons-modernization programs.
• They must reenergize the disarmament process, with a focus on results.
• They must engage with North Korea to reduce nuclear risks.
• They must begin to deal with the problem of commercial nuclear waste, in particular by agreeing on workable international storage sites.
• They must follow up on the Paris accord with actions that sharply reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
• They must create institutions specifically designed to explore and address potentially catastrophic misuse of new technologies.

Call me a cockeyed pessimist or just a hard-nosed realist, whatever, but can anyone actually see anything on that list that is going to achieve worldwide agreement ?

Perhaps those who say “What the Hell” are right, who cares we’ll be dead before it happens. Perhaps I should be one of them after all I have no children or grandchildren to worry about… But surely someone should stick up for every other animal species in the world who don’t have a vote but will suffer the same fate as us.

Earlier on I mentioned the Industrial Revolution, a time when mankind really started to believe he was smarter than nature. Back the theory of evolution was just that a theory. Now with our enhanced medicines, our understanding of genetics and DNA we play God as we strive towards living forever while forgetting all those original laws of evolution and natural selection.

I can only hope enough of our disastrous history will survive so that the life form that follows us can learn and hopefully be a lot wiser than we are. Like all other species that share our planet, learn to live in harmony with nature and not try to be its master.

You Ain’t Famous

January 3, 2016

Sweat Shirt

Who was it that said to me, ‘Just because you’ve written a couple of books and got your face in the Newspapers don’t let Fame go to your head.’
As if !

If there is one thing I have learnt over the years that is ‘Life’ has a great way of bringing you back to Earth should you be dumb enough to be swept away in all the praise of the adoring public.

Take Book signings as an example, these are for Real celebrities not for mere Wannabees. If you are somebody special, or better still if the public think you’re somebody special then you’re IN!

The gullible will flock to the event and happily part with their ‘hard earned pennies’ just to be close enough to smell the sloshed on perfume or aftershave, depending on whether it is a footballer or one of their WAG girlfriends flogging their latest ‘Kiss and Tell’ cookery book.

For the rest of us it’s pretty much a day trip to somewhere you’ve never heard of where you will sit on a hard chair behind a wobbly table covered in a pile of books trying to appear interesting to the passing punters desperately trying not to make eye contact with you.

However, for those that really need a lesson in humility please do a book signing in your home town.

Like many writers I write under a pseudonym, now that may sound a bit pretentious coming from someone who is comparatively unknown under either name, real or otherwise. However, I do have a good excuse, someone else is already using my real name, and for all I know he may also be writing under an assumed name…. The fact that it’s my name maybe completely lost on the man however that aside he has made a decent name for himself and his scribbling using my name so I chose another one for me.

But I digress from my tale, being as I live in a quaint rural market town it was suggested that I may wish to join in with the local Christmas Arts and Craft Fair and set up a ‘Meet the Author’ table as a way of maybe shifting some books.

It’s the sort of thing that sounds like a good idea at the time and it’s a decision you usually make when you are a bit too relaxed. Like when in the local pub propositioned by someone else who isn’t quite as relaxed as they seem and… well before you know where you are you’ve agreed to be the Star attraction at the local Meet and Greet!

This one was to be on home ground, I had time to plan and organise, A3 poster sized pictures of the book covers, laptop primed to show YouTube video teasers, (giving them something else to look at other than me).

I even put out a bowl of mixed candy to sweeten the little buggers and charm them into a false sense of security, how could they dare take my offering and not buy my book? Quite easily as it happens, they wait for you to go to the toilet or to fetch a fresh brew of coffee and they sneak in and empty the bowl.
So well organised were we that announcements had been made in the local press, there was even a special insert into the town’s local Free magazine. Come and Meet local author Merlin Fraser, the full drum roll and fanfare had been made, I had never been so organised.

As a small aside I think I should add that around the area where I live we have more than our fair share of celebrities (real ones) artists and a few quite famous authors as well. So you can imagine that for many reading in the local rag that local author Merlin Fraser will be at the next event there may well have been a slight glimmer of interest even if it was only to ask “Who?”

Experience has taught me that at these things you tend to need something to break the ice, this is after all England where nobody actually speaks to anyone without being formally introduced over tea.

Therefore one needs a gimmick, an Ice Breaker….. So I am now the proud owner of the pictured Sweatshirt with the logo : “Who The HELL Is Merlin Fraser”? blazoned across the front.

Yeah, OK I know, it sounded a good idea in the pub, alright ! How is it that when you’re in a pub there is always someone who has a friend who just happens to know someone who can fix you up with these things…. Who knows I might even wear it if things get desperate enough !

Come the day full of confidence, and caffeine I take up station by the table and wait, nobody comes anywhere near me. I head to the coffee pot come back and refill the sweetie bowl. I notice every stall holder in the room, except me, is trying to suck a sweet without moving any part of their mouth.

Then through the front door come three ladies, locals so at least if I can’t sell them a book I can at least have a chat with them, after all I know them and they know me.

Only they don’t… They are here to meet Merlin Fraser, famous writer of Murder Mystery stories and these three are a bit peeved to find that he’s not here and I’m sitting in his chair, presumably and pretentiously swigging his coffee out of his personal mug.
“So where is he ?” One dear old lady asks.

“Who ?” I ask.

“Merlin bloody Fraser, who else ?”
“He’s here…. I am he .”

“He who ?” Her friend asked.

“Me Who… I mean… I am He… I am Merlin Fraser.”

“No you’re not …your that bloke that drives the Dial a Ride Bus!”
“W-e-l- l Yes… but I do this as well.”

“Why,” asked the one in the middle, who up to that point had been silent ?

As this juncture I should have quit, offered them a toffee from my dwindling supply and changed the subject to seasonal things, but we writers are made of sterner stuff. “Why do I write books or why do I drive the bus”?

Little old ladies can be cruel, they turned on me as one, with that look, you know the one, the look that can freeze the blood in your veins. The look that without a spoken word says “listen smart ass” ! They also have that way of sighing and shrugging the shoulders in one move, the one they reserve for the feeble minded who are beyond hope. They declined the proffered sweet and moved away.

Not that the next encounter was any better. A total stranger stood silently in front of my table scanning all the A3 sized book synopsis before picking book three off the table and flicking the pages and asking why all three books had the same title but different covers ?

I explained that Inner Space was the banner heading to link a trilogy of three murder mystery stories with a team of central characters. I then made the mistake of asking him if he like murder mysteries… “Not really” was he reply “we only came in so that my wife could use the toilet”.

I’d like to say things improved over the three days of the Fair, but alas… OK I made a few sales and dished out a lot of Free book markers with the web site and links on it under the promise of they will look and buy later…. I wish I had asked for a small refundable deposit, would have helped pay for my pitch,but Alas!

Little Poster

Floater’s Rismus.

December 11, 2015

christmas-treeA Christmas Special from the Further Adventures of Maggie and the Dust Bunnies.  ©

Author:  Merlin Fraser

Floater’s Rismus.                 

 DB1‘Tinkle, Tinkle, Tinkle.’ The sound of a little bell went through the house.  Instantly Whatsit the dog was on his paws with tail wagging at the possibility of rejoining his pals upstairs.

Grandmother let out one long sigh; already she was regretting giving Carrie and Andy the little brass bell.  She had given it to them so that they could summons her instead of shouting at the top of their voices as they had been doing up until now.

Only one week until Christmas day and both the children in her care were down with the flu and confined to bed.  Carrie’s was the bigger room with two single beds, so for her own convenience Grandmother had put the pair of them in together, with the bell on a small bedside table between them.

Heaving herself to her feet, yet again, she told Whatsit to sit and stay as she headed upstairs, yet again !  As she entered the room she put on her most stern Granny voice, “I thought I told you that one or other of you had better be very close to death before ringing that bell again, now, who rang it and which one of you is dying ?”

There was a brief silence where no one actually owned up to the bell ringing offence before Andy piped up, “Carrie’s snoring.”

“Am not !”

“Are Too !”

“Am not !”

“Are….”

Andy was cut short mid sentence by a withering stare that said ‘I know it was you who rang the bell and your sisters snoring is not a good enough reason for ringing it.  He shrank beneath the bed covers.

Carrie’s little voice just said, “I was trying to sleep and he keeps waking me up.”

Andy replied she was snoring, honest she was Gran, very, very loud it was too.  Can we have Watsit back; at least he’s good company and HE doesn’t snore.”

Carrie replied “ No way !  Whatsit takes up more of the bed than I do.”

Grandmother was still in harsh Granny mode.  “He’s not supposed to get on the bed, or any other piece of furniture for that matter remember ?  It’s one of the rules.”

Andy sighed “I’m bored, can I get up then ?”

Grandmother looked sternly at him, “If you’re well enough to get up then you’re well enough to go to school.”  This time when he shrank back he disappeared completely from sight.

A muffled little voice asked, “can we have a story then ?”

Grandmother gave up and said; “if you are good and if I can have a little peace and quiet to have a cup of tea and a little nap then after supper I will tell you a story.  But be warned, one more ding on that bell no story and no nice sweet after the cough medicine…Deal ?”

“OK Gran; it’s a deal.”

Much to her surprise, not to say, delight Grandmother got her wish.  She awoke with a start into a room filled with the gloom of evening.  A cold wet nose touching the back of her hand as a desperate Whatsit announced that his eyes were crossing and he needed to go for a walk…like; right now.

With a creak and a stretch Grandmother pushed herself up from her comfy chair with the realisation that Whatsit was not the only one who needed to go but she took care of him first, at least as far as the back door.

Switching the lights on she checked the clock and realised it was time to think about food for herself and the invalids.  They really were quite ill and eating anything was a struggle and all three of them seemed to be living on a diet of scrambled eggs, Grandmothers homemade chicken broth, rice pudding and jelly.

Whatsit on the other hand was his usual lively and healthy self and took great pleasure in his second favourite pastime which was eating anything that didn’t eat him first.  His first great pleasure was playing and involving as many people as one dog could muster at any given moment.

Supper over with Whatsit was allowed a visit to the sickroom to deliver the doggy version of compassion and ‘get well soon’ greetings.  By the time Grandmother returned from taking the dishes downstairs the place was in uproar.  Against all instructions Whatsit was on Andy’s bed with Carrie out of hers attempting to get him off.

“What on earth is going on here ?  I thought I told you two that the dog is not allowed to sit on the bed !”

An out of breath and muffled voice replied.  “He’s not…he’s sitting on me !”  This was another of Whatsit’s favourite pastimes.   “GERORF you fat lump” protested Andy.

A stern look and the command “Off !” From Grandmother had the desired effect as Whatisit was banished to the corner and told to sit.

Andy came out from under the covers red faced and started a coughing fit which he tried very hard to suppress as his Grandmother reached for the cough mixture.

A sort of peace returned to the room as beds were remade, patients returned and securely tucked in and settled.

“Is it story time now ?” Carrie asked.

“What would you like to hear ?”  Asked Grandmother as if she didn’t know.

“Dust Bunnies !” Came the reply in unison. “Tell us another story about Maggie and Floater,” said Carrie.

With a sigh Grandmother settled herself down on a chair and began.

“Let me see; Ah yes !  I think if I remember correctly Maggie had gone home and took Floater with her.  Well then; as it is getting close to Christmas how about I tell you the story about when Maggie and her parents returned to her Grandfather’s house for a grand Christmas reunion.”

“What’s a reunion ?” Asked Andy.

“It’s where a lot of people, sometimes members of a large family, or old school pals get together for a special dinner or maybe as in this case a great big party.”

“Now then where was I ?  Ah yes !  It had been Maggie’s idea really, if you remember when she had been staying at her Grandfather’s house, in the summer, she had seen some old family pictures of her mother, aunts and uncles when they had been much younger and must have used the same nursery where she had played.

When Maggie went home she told her mother how sad she thought the house was without people in it.  ‘Grandfather must be very lonely there, I know I was.’  Then she asked ‘so where is everybody now and why don’t they come and visit Granddad anymore ?’

Maggie’s mother took hold of her hand and smiled, ‘people just grow up and start new lives and families of their own.  Lots of things change and well it just becomes harder to do all the things you want…or need to do that’s all.’

Maggie’s face was all serious, ‘well I think it’s very mean of you all to forget Granddad like that and I think we should have a big party to say we’re sorry.’

Her mother gave her hand a squeeze and she bent down and gave her a quick kiss; ‘what a wonderful idea and what sort of party did you have in mind ?’

Maggie thought for a minute then replied ‘a Christmas party, at Granddad’s house. With lots of snow, and a big warm fire in the fireplace, and…and Christmas lunch with turkey, and stuffing and roast potatoes and…and trifle and Christmas crackers, and a great big Christmas tree; and, and…’

Then she stopped and with a frown on her face she turned to her mother and in a serious voice asked.  ‘If we do go to Granddad’s house for Christmas what will happen about Santa Claus ?  I mean will he know that we’re not here, at home, and bring all our presents to Granddad’s house instead ?’

Her Mother smiled and gave her a hug, ‘I shouldn’t worry about that, Santa always knows where you are at Christmas but you could write to him and tell him where you will be just in case.’

Of course while Maggie and her mother were talking about Christmas and making their plans a certain pair of fluffy little ears was listening and taking everything in. And just as soon as Maggie’s mother was out of the room young Floater was full of questions.

‘What’s this Rismus when it’s at home ?’

‘Oh Floater; it’s a wonderful time when Santa Claus comes and everyone gets presents, and if it snows we go outside with our sledges and slide down a hill.  We build a great big snowman in the garden and have snowball fights and all sorts of things.  Sometimes we get carol singers come to the house and sing songs outside.’

Floater gave a might sniff,  ‘never ‘eard of it…  Mind you I do remember a pretty young Dust Bunny called Carol; she was always singin’…never knew why until now.  He sniffed again ‘sounds like fun though; so when we goin’ ?’

Maggie giggled ‘hold you horses,’ she said, ‘it’s months and months away I’ve got to go back to school and there’s all sorts of things to do long before then.’

However, as we all know time has a nasty habit of rushing past, especially when you’re not looking.  So it wasn’t long before the clocks went back as the days grew shorter and the nights grew longer and longer and colder and colder until December was here once more.

Maggie started to tick off the days on her calendar, days left at school, days remaining before they all went to Grandfather’s house.  She and Floater talked for hours about the trip, all the things they were going to do the friends they were going to see and the fun they were all going to have.

In the last few days before they set off Floater was not his usual self, he was very quiet, for him, something that always made Maggie a little nervous.  She knew only too well that when Floater was quiet or disappeared for days on end it usually meant he was scheming or up to no good somewhere.  However, just like a bad penny the day before the trip he reappeared all bright eyed, ready to go with no explanation whatsoever as to where he had been…or why.

Of course Floater didn’t need anything packed he was always ready to go as he was. Maggie on the other hand had lots of things she needed to take with her and she had packed and unpacked her suitcase a dozen times before this day had come.  So when Floater suggested she may want to check her case one more time she didn’t think anything was suspicious.

The house was quiet and still in darkness when full of excitement Maggie got up and got dressed ready for the off.  It seemed simply ages and ages before she heard any sign that her mother and father were up and getting ready, she wondered ‘why are parents always so slow ?’

With everybody downstairs at last, a large pile of suitcases in the hallway Maggie was ready to go but her mother was not.  ‘Nobody is going anywhere until we have had some breakfast,’ she announced.  ‘Besides the Taxi won’t be here for at least an hour so I suggest you settle down young lady.’

Try as she might settling down was the farthest thing from Maggie’s mind, there was just too much to do.  They had to get to the railway station and catch the train.  Then there was the long car journey at the other end up into the hills to Granddads house.

But of course, they got there, all safe and sound and as it turned out they were also the first to arrive, which was all part of her mother’s plan.  There was still much to do and a lot of things, including Grandfather still needed organising.

Maggie asked her Grandfather if she could have the room next to the nursery again and was delighted when he told her she could have any room she liked… except his; of course.

First they all had tea in the big sitting room where a large open fire warmed the room.  Close to the fire there was great long wire forks and Maggie’s mother showed her how to toast crumpets for everyone.

As soon as tea was over Maggie asked if she may be excused and rushed up to her room where she opened her suitcase to retrieve Floater before heading for the nursery and a reunion of their own.  She couldn’t wait to see Dingle, Margot, McFluff and all her other Dust Bunny friends.

As she flung open her suitcase her mouth opened as if she was going to say something but nothing came out.  There sitting in the middle of her woolly jumper was Floater grinning like an idiot as usual, ‘Watcha Maggie! Are we there yet ?’

But to Maggie’s utter astonishment Floater was not alone he was surrounded by six other Dust Bunnies of different colours and sizes.  NOW she realised where he’d been and what had kept him so quiet over the past few days.  ‘FLOATER !  What the…?’

‘This Rismus of yours sounded like so much fun that I knew you wouldn’t mind if I brought a few of me pals along to join in.’

‘FLOATER !  ARRG !  Sometimes….’

The smile disappeared from his little face, ‘d-i-d- I do something wrong ?’

‘Oh Floater !  Well, no not really  but you could have warned me.  It was a bit of a shock that’s all.  You might have said something, I mean, I didn’t even know you had any friends at our house how come I never met any of them before ?’

Floater puffed himself up and his cheeky little smile returned, he sniffed ‘well it’s like this, they’re a bit shy; if you know what I mean.  They don’t really trust Oomins that much… and let’s face it your mum’s a bit too friendly with Oover and his pals for their likin’.’

‘Very well, we’re all here now so we might as well get on with it, so; do I get an introduction to your friends ?

Floater, his confidence fully restored, cleared his throat, ‘Maggie I’d like ya to meet me mates, this ‘ere is Doris, Boris, Dozy, Beaky, Leaky and Tiddler.’

He said it so fast that Maggie had trouble keeping up but as she looked closer at the tiny group sitting on her jumper she could almost work out who was who as their names also seemed to be their description as well.

For instance, one of the group was smaller than the others, this she assumed was Tiddler.  From the fact that there were tiny bits of fluff on her jumper near one of the others, this she supposed was Leaky.  Beaky had an extra bit of fluff in the middle of his face that looked like a nose, while Dozy looked exactly as his name implied.  That left only Doris and Boris and as one had a slightly pinkish tinge Maggie assumed that was Doris.

There followed a quick little chorus of tiny voices saying, ‘Hi Maggie’ as she gathered them up and arranged them on her cardigan sleeve.

Once in the nursery Maggie looked around for any clues as to where everyone might be. She wandered over to the large table that held the model railway.

‘Hisst !’

‘Hisst !’

‘What’s the matter with you Floater. you sprung a leak or something ?’

‘Why you heading this way ?  You know McFluff hates strangers; and he eats the little ones…’

True, the railway table was McFluff’s domain but she felt sure he would know where everyone would be.  ‘Floater! Stop exaggerating, He most certain does not eat strangers; he’s just a little grumpy; sometimes.’

There was the sound of;  ‘Humff !’ From Floater, ‘why not try the Doll’s house first, most of ‘em will be there I ‘spect.’

And of course he was right; thanks to Maggie’s brainwave during her previous visit the Doll’s house was a safe haven for Dust Bunnies being as it was a no go area for most Oomins, Oover or any of his cleaning gang.

As Maggie released the secret catch she pulled open the front of the house to reveal the wonderful miniature world behind.  The light from the room flooded in and there was the faint sound of rustling; ‘Eeeek !  OOMINS !  Eeeek !   There’s Big Eyes in the Sky…Eeeek !’

When they moved a little closer Floater shouted in their direction; ‘What a load of old Wuzzes !  It’s only us!’

Then a thick Irish voice that Maggie recognised instantly   ‘by all that’s holy will you look at that it’s young Maggie and Floater come fer a visit so it is…and by the look of it they’ve brought visitors as well.’

Maggie smiled, ‘Dingle is that you…where is everyone ?’

There was a lot of little shuffling noises and she could see the occasional glimpse of a spider as it scurried around but soon the front of all the tiny rooms in the house were full of excited Dust Bunnies most calling out greetings of welcome.

Maggie found some space and gently peeled off her passengers so they could mingle and join in.

‘Oh it’s so good to see all of you but where is Margot and McFluff don’t they stay with you ?’

Dingle spoke up from the crowd, ‘Ah Maggie lass; you’ll never get McFluff away from his trains and Margot she prefers the peace and quiet of her dolls basket…but you’re right they should be here.’

Maggie volunteered to go fetch them and by the time she got back there was a sense of celebration going on and although everyone was being very polite it was becoming obvious that Oomins were not invited.  So with a wave she closed the front of the doll’s house and left them to it.

Over the next couple of days Maggie saw little of Floater, not that there was much time for play.  Her mother had taken complete control of the party plans and she had everybody running around putting up Christmas decorations, getting the huge Christmas tree into position, lights tested and hung on the tree.

In spite of all the wonderful smells coming from that direction the kitchen…mothers head quarters for the duration, was strictly off limits to all children and there were dire threats to tell Santa Claus of anyone who broke the rules.

As the house took shape ready for the big day other family members started to arrive, people who Maggie didn’t really know, except from the pictures in the old albums. But to her great disappointment these were not the same people at all.  Or to her they didn’t seem they were the same people.  These people were old, the men with balding heads the women seemed much wider than their pictures and most of them didn’t look as though they had had any fun in years.

Even the children, her cousins were an odd lot and they all seemed to speak with funny accents.  One girl call Shelia sounded like Dingle, and a scruffy little boy, with a runny nose talked a lot like McFluff.

By Christmas Eve all the guests had arrived and the house simply buzzed with activity.  The pile of presents under the tree began to grow as did the level of noise and excitement from adult and child alike.

After breakfast all those who wanted to took off for a horse ride.  The morning was cold and bright and the ground was white after a hard frost and you could see the horse’s breath in the freezing air as they pranced around eager to get going.

Back at the house lunch was a splendid affair, with bowls of hot broth and large chunks of homemade bread followed by steak and kidney pie, potatoes and lots of gravy.  And finally; there was one of Maggie’s favourite’s apple crumble and custard.

After the mornings ride and such a big lunch many of the guests, including Maggie, retired to their rooms for a rest.  I don’t think she had any idea just how tired she was until she lay down on her bed and fell fast asleep.

It was quite late in the afternoon when she awoke, the room was quite gloomy as she yawned and stretched and tried to wake up.  Suddenly; she was wide awake and sitting bolt upright.  There on her pillow was Floater and he wasn’t alone, Dingle, Margot and McFluff were there as well.  Eric and his mates had been busy.

‘Cor !’ said Floater, ‘at last, we wos beginning to think you’d sleep right through Rismus and we’d miss it all.’

Maggie was getting over the initial shock of seeing them and smiled at them, ‘sorry, I think I ate too much lunch.’

McFluff cut her short, ‘we’re sorry lassie we didna mean to scare you but if ye wouldn’t mind Pep and the other council members would like you to explain this Rismus thing to them.  Ye see; we’re not exactly sure what young Floater here is wittering on aboot.’

Dingle added, ‘That’s putting it mildly so it is, all this nonsense about some fat Oomin in a red suit bringing presents to every Dust Bunny in the land tomorrow, never heard the like.’

‘Eet it does sound a little… how…you say…too good to be true, and what ease snow…and why must we fight wit eet ?’  Margot asked.

Maggie scowled at Floater, who was staying remarkably quiet, for him.  ‘What have you been telling everyone now ?’

Floater blustered his way into life,   ME ! I like that, all I did was…was telling them why we’re here and I had to explain Rismus just like I heard you and your Mum talking about it…and… and, well it sounded kinda nice.’  His little voice trailed away into nothing.

The frown on Maggie’s face lifted into a smile, ‘Ah! Now I see; you mean this is all new to you and you have never heard of Christmas before.’

Dingle jumped in, ‘Oh we’ve heard of Rismus so we have, there’s been lots of parties in this house, well maybe not so recently, ifin you know what I mean, but this fat guy with the presents; now he’s got us a wee bit stumped, so he has.

‘And Zee Snow ?’ Added Margot.

‘Oh Floater ! Why do you do this to me ?’

Floater looked as if someone had stuck a pin in him, he seemed to shrink before her eyes; ‘you mean it ain’t true ?

‘Oh it’s true alright, there really is a man called Santa Claus and he does bring presents to all young children, tonight as it happens.  But, I have a horrible feeling that if you didn’t know about it before now then I think it must be a human thing and doesn’t include Dust Bunnies,…I’m sorry.’

‘You’re Sorry !… You’re Sorry !  Wot about me ?  It’s back to the chamber pot for me when they find out and this time it’ll be forever, or even longer, and it’ll all be your fault.’

Maggie puffed up her cheeks and blew as hard as she could in Floater’s direction blowing him right off the pillow sending him floating to the floor below.  ‘My fault ! How is it my fault all of a sudden ?’

‘Well it was you who told me….’

‘Floater !  I, for your information, did not tell you anything…you were eves dropping and got it wrong…as per usual.  And now you expect me to get you out of it…again, as per usual.  Well this time I not sure I can.’

McFluff said, ‘Perhaps lassie if you were to explain it to the council, I’m no sayin’ young Floater was right you understand, but a word from you may just help.’

Maggie retrieved Floater from the floor and popped him back on the pillow with the others, ‘well alright, but he keeps doing this to me I have a good mind to put him in the chamber pot myself and…and put a lid on it.’

She picked up the tiny Dust Bunnies and placed them on her sleeve as she took them back to the nursery.  As she came to the big doll’s house she had this terrible sinking feeling in her tummy.  What was she going to say that would possibly help and get Floater out of trouble ?

As she pulled open the front of the doll’s house she asked Dingle where Pep and the others might be.  ‘Jest put us on the top floor Maggie dear and we’ll go get them.  Mind you, on second thoughts, it might be wise to keep young Floater here with you, jest in case you need to make a run for it.’

‘Thanks a bunch: you green has been.’

‘FLOATER !  Dingle is right and I think it’s a very good idea for you to stay here with me; I know you, you are bound to open your mouth and put your foot in it.

‘Har…Har.. Har !  Bleedin’ funny that is; especially as you know perfectly well we don’t have any feet,’ replied Floater.

McFluff said, ‘OK Lassie; wish us luck and we’ll be off.’

‘I still want to know about Ze snow’ muttered Margot.

To Maggie’s amazement they weren’t gone long; such was the excitement that Floater had created the whole front of the doll’s house was soon alive with small balls of fluff of every colour and size.  She could see quite a few spiders as well scurrying to and fro bringing even more new comers.

There was a definite buzz of activity and a strange little noise that Maggie could only assume was the whispers of so many Dust Bunnies in one place.

Then a hush fell over the doll’s house as a great big spider appeared and pushed its way through the crowd and stopped right on the edge almost level with Maggie’s eyes.

As the spider moved aside there stood Pep, the council leader.  Pep reminded Maggie of someone’s cuddly Grandmother; coloured as she was in pink and white.  As soon as things settled down Pep gave a slight nod of her grey curly head in Maggie’s direction, ‘my dear Maggie; how nice to see once again.’

Pleased to have something to do at last Maggie almost curtsied as she smiled and replied, ‘I’m glad to be back with you all once more.’

Now ! If you please; can you please explain to me about this latest piece of nonsense, why has Rismus changed all of a sudden ?  The whole Dust Bunny colony can speak of little else.  Who is this Santa Claus and why is he coming here ?’

Maggie wasn’t at all sure how she should handle this problem, of course she could just blurt out the truth that Floater had got his facts wrong, that Santa Claus was an Oomin and he only paid a visit to Oomin children who had been good during the previous year.  This maybe the right thing to say but it was hardly going to save her friend Floater from a visit to the chamber pot now was it ?

Maggie started to speak, very slowly at first, as she tried desperately to think of something to say.  ‘W-e-l-l; if you remember when we first met we looked at some pictures in the family album and you were kind enough to tell me who everyone was and why the house was so sad.

Since then I have been trying to think of a way to bring the house back to life and so I persuaded my mother to arrange a Christmas party here to bring everyone back to the house.  They are here now, downstairs I mean there will a huge party tomorrow.’

There was a chorus of ‘Ooo’s and Ah’s,’…as well as a few ‘Oh My’s’ thrown in.

Dingle asked, ‘Will there be balloons ?’

‘And dancing ?’ said Margot.

‘Lots of decorations and…and…’

Maggie smiled, as much in relief as anything else, but there was a call to be quiet while Pep returned to the main topic.  ‘Yes, yes, all this is fine and much as it once was I’m sure but where does this Santa Claus fit in ?’

Maggie excused herself for a minute and went over to the large bookshelf and quickly found what she was looking for, ‘seems to be going OK so far don’t you think ?’ Floater suggested.

Maggie hissed at him to be quiet, ‘I’m not exactly sure I have forgiven you yet so I recommend you keep your lip buttoned, we are not out of trouble yet.’

When Maggie returned to the front of the doll’s house she had a large book open at a picture of Santa Clause in all his glory, high above the roof tops in his sleigh pulled by a team of flying reindeer.  In the sleigh were sacks full of toys and sweets of every shape and kind.

‘This,’ said Maggie full of pride, ‘is Santa Claus !’

‘And he’s coming here; tonight…to do what exactly ?’ The coolness in Pep’s voice brought Maggie out of her dream and back down to earth with a bump.

‘There are a number of children here in the house tonight, myself included, and we hope that Santa will bring us lots of presents.’

‘And we will see him… is that it ?  Pep asked.

‘Well Ah !  No…not exactly, we never actually see him. he only comes if you’re asleep.’

Pep persisted, ‘so how do you know he’s been…If you don’t see him.’

‘W-e-l-l he leaves us the presents, and… and he eats the mince pies we leave out for him and he drinks the drink and takes the carrots we leave for his reindeer and….”

Pep continued, ‘so; let me get this right, even if he comes tonight we won’t see him but we will know he’s been; is that what you’re saying ?  Is this some sort of Oomin magic ?’

Maggie mumbled, ‘Yes ! I think so.’

There was no sound from the crowd of Dust Bunnies, if they had been excited at the thought of Rismus it was all gone now.  Maggie had said the party would take place downstairs and away from the nursery.

‘Such a shame, I would have liked to see the family all together again, hear the sound of laughter ring out once more,’ Pep sighed.  Behind her the Dotty twins were sobbing uncontrollably and there was a few whispered ‘here… here’s’ going around.

Suddenly a cheery little voice piped up ‘Well if that’s what you would like, I can’t promise this Santa Claus but I’m sure Maggie could arrange for you be there at the party.’

There was an immediate and excited chorus of ‘She Can ?’

‘I can ?’  It was almost a shout from Maggie, who then lowered her voice to a whisper, ‘Floater ! What are you talking about, how can I… ?’

‘Easy peesey… I have it all worked out, all we need is a bit of organisation which as you know is my speciality, and maybe a wee bit of magic.’

‘Magic !’ Hissed Maggie through clenched teeth while she tried to keep smiling in the general direction of the doll’s house as well as holding down the panic she could feel rising in her heart.  ‘What magic ?’

Floater gave a little cough, ‘Maggie; can we go p-l-e-a-s-e… just grab the gang and let’s get out of here…trust me everything will be fine but we need to go….and I mean…Like right Now !’

‘Trust you ?  Are you mad ?  Why on earth would I do that?  Aren’t we in enough trouble already,  and who is this gang ?’

‘Jest grab, Margo, Dingle and McFluff and let’s go’…pleaded Floater.  Who in a louder voice said to all the Dust Bunnies gathered there ‘we will be off now but we promise you that this Rismus will be something very special.’

Maggie shuddered, none of this sounded good to her.  Here they were trying to get him out of the hole he had dug for himself and now dear Floater had made a promise before the entire Dust Bunny population as well as the Grand Council.  And; to make things worse, if that were possible, he had used the ‘We’ word; which now included her in whatever hair brained scheme he was dreaming up.

Too late now, she did as she was told and picked up the gang, as he had called them and they disappeared towards the model train tables.  Maggie placed them all on the table as far from the doll’s house as she could get before she spoke.  ‘You have just thirty seconds to explain yourself before I go back to see Pep and promise her that I will put you in the chamber pot myself by way of saying I’m sorry.’

There was a shower of protests from Floater as he blustered into a torrent of words, ‘just give me a sec to explain will ya…I mean; it was you and Pep that gave me the idea.’

Maggie still wasn’t sure, ‘the clock is ticking and so far you haven’t said anything to make me feel any happier with you.’

‘Me neither,’ added Dingle.

‘Nobody asked you,’ replied Floater, ‘Jest listen will ya ? Magic! That’s the answer ain’t it ? You both said so… you and Pep.’

‘Magic !’  Repeated Maggie, ‘that’s your brilliant idea is it ?  Magic and I suppose you have a little Dust Bunny magic wand that you are going to wave and make this all better ?

Margot, Dingle and McFluff all sniggered and Floater glowered at them.   ‘Me ! No not me, but I do know a Dust Bunny who does.’

‘WHO ?’  They all said in unison.

‘Wizzy the wizard,’ came the reply.

The other three Dust Bunnies fell about laughing, ‘Wizzy ?  And you say I have dust for brains, said Dingle.  ‘He’s as old as dust itself to be sure and where do you think you’re going to find him, assuming he’s still with us that is ?’

Mc Fluff shook his head, ‘Och Laddie, there was me thinkin’ you might just have a good idea fer once, and you come up with that…Wizzy! I ask you.’

Maggie stamped her foot to bring them back to reality, ‘would you mind explaining to me who …is…Wizzy and how is he going to help us ?’

That did it, Dingle, McFluff and Margot dissolved into fits of laughter once again which only made Floater lose his temper.  ‘Wizzy is a great magician…well…was great at one time, he could magic away anything…or so I’m told…’  His little voice trailed away to nothing.

‘Or so you’re told !’  Said Maggie, ‘so am I right in saying that you have never actually seen Wizzy do magic, or know where he is, or even if he is still around…is that right ?’

‘Well ! When you put it like that…I mean… well no not… actually seen, as such but I do know where he is… or was… if it’ll ‘elp.’

Maggie turned to the other three, who were still giggling in that silly way people do when trying very hard to stop and fail every time they look at one another.  ‘I don’t suppose anyone else has any brilliant ideas to get me out of trouble ?’

There was complete silence until Floater piped up ‘Get you out of trouble ? You ? What about me ?  After all it’s not you who will have to spend the rest of your life in a chamber pot is it ?’

‘Ve will come and visit you,’ promised Margot, giggling.

‘Ho Ho !’  Replied Floater, my friends !  Well that’s it then…it’s Wizzy or nothin’.’

Maggie sighed a big sigh; ‘so just where do we find this Wizzy character ?  I suppose it won’t do any harm to talk to him.’

McFluff tried to explain ‘Och Lassie ! Din’na waste yer time, the last anybody heard of Wizzy he was up in the loft somewhere; miles away from here.  It would take a big spider days jest ta get there, never mind actually finding him.’

‘Ah Ha !’ Shouted Floater, ‘that’s where you’re wrong, a spider is way too slow but a mouse, now they could get there much faster.’

‘Excuse me !’  Said Maggie ‘remember me ?  I can get to the loft in a couple of minutes much faster than either a spider or a mouse.’

‘Oh Maggie me darlin’ tis a wonderful idea so it is but it could never be.  If he so much as saw an Oomin you would scare Wizzy into dust’ said Dingle.

Maggie just looked at him and the others ‘but you are all just dust to start with; aren’t you ?’

‘True enough lassie,’ replied McFluff, ‘but whit Dingle means is yon Wizzy is so old he might disappear into his original bits.’

‘So !’  Announced Floater with what little authority he could muster ‘a mouse it is then.’

‘A mouse ? And this is something YOU can arrange is it ?’ Maggie asked.

‘Of course, I have a friend Mrs. Mouseling, I feel sure she would help a Dust Bunny in distress.’

‘And if ever there was a Dust Bunny in distress we’re lookin’ at him, to be sure,’ said Dingle.

Floater ignored him, ‘Maggie if you can take me under the table over by the wall.’

This was all too much for Maggie but with Floater out of the way and while he searched for this Mrs. Mouseling it at least gave her some much needed thinking time to come up with a better plan.  So she did as he asked.

The light underneath the model railway table wasn’t very good and it took a while for her eyes to adjust but as she came close to the far wall she saw what Floater must be looking for.  There was a small hole in the skirting board. Maggie shuddered, she didn’t like mice any more than she liked spiders but she thought that now was probably not a good time to bring the subject up.

‘Now what ?’ She asked.

‘Jest put me down over there and give me a little blow towards that hole; I shan’t be long.’

Back from under the table Maggie looked in horror as she seemed to be covered in cobwebs and dust.  She started to brush herself down quite hard when all of a sudden she realised that six pair of eyes were staring at her in an accusing way.  Too late she remembered that she might be brushing off a few Dust Bunny relatives.

She smiled, sickly at them, ‘Sorry !’

‘What do ve do now ?’ Margot asked

‘Well I suppose we just wait,’ replied Maggie, ‘what else can we do ?’

Dingle replied, ‘makin’ a run for it springs to my mind.’

‘We can’t just leave young Floater ta his fate now can we ?’  Asked McFluff.

‘I could,’ said Dingle.

‘I heard that, you ungrateful green so and so, you’d still have your head stuck in a book if it wasn’t for me.’

‘You !  It twas Mistress Maggie that rescued me so it was…not you.’

Maggie turned towards the sound of Floater’s voice and had to stifle a scream at not one but two mice sitting on the table beside her.  One had Floater perched on his shoulder like a tiny jockey.

Floater continued, ‘and jest who do you think told her which book to look in ? Anyway there’s no time for any of that now.  Maggie, I’d like you to meet me good friends Ee and Gi.

Maggie looked confused, ‘I thought you were going to get Mrs. Mouseling.’

‘I was but she’s a little bit busy at the moment what with it being Rismus and all that, but she sent two of her sons along instead.’

Maggie was still unsure but she smiled weakly at them, ‘what strange names they have.  Not that she knew many mice personally; or any at all if it came right down to it.

‘That’s only their nicknames, it’s short for Gi Normouse, and his brother EeNormouse.’

Maggie wasn’t sure if Floater was pulling her leg or not so she just smiled and said, ‘pleased to meet you I’m sure,’ and left it at that.

‘Right you lot, I need a volunteer to come with us, someone who knows Wizzy and can ask him for help… or something.’

Dingle gave a gentle sigh, ‘be it against me better judgement I suppose it better be me to go.  It’s a daft notion so it is, but at least I kin hold me head up high when they toss you in the pot fer good, at least I kin say I tried.’

Floater took charge, ‘Maggie ifin you could help Dingle onto Gi’s shoulders we’ll be off.  Back as soon as we can then we can get on and organise everything else.’

For what it was worth Margot and Mcfluff wished them good luck as the two mice disappeared over the side of the table.

Maggie looked at her watch and shouted, ‘Oh my gosh; look at the time. I have to go, it’s nearly dinner time and I have to have a bath and get dressed and everything.’  And with that she too disappeared leaving the two remaining Dust Bunnies on the train table.

McFluff said, ‘Ye ken, it’s nice to see young Maggie and Floater again, but I cann’a help thinking life was a lot less hectic while they were gone.’

‘Veree true mon Cherie but it is far less boring when they are here, Non ?’  Margot replied.

Dinner that evening was a grand affair.  Everybody who had been invited was there and Maggie felt there was true magic in the air that night.  She felt quite proud sitting at the big table with the grownups while all the other children had been banished to a smaller table off at the end of the room.

There was a lot of chatter and laughter and to her delight she had never seen her Grandfather look as happy as he was tonight sitting at the head of the table surrounded by all his family.

When dinner was over the younger children were taken over to the big fireplace where they were helped to hang their stockings and made to say good-night to everyone.  Mothers took them off to bed with the threat that Santa Claus wouldn’t come if they weren’t fast asleep.

Maggie and the other older children were allowed to stay up a little longer to play party games with the grownups but even they were soon sent off to bed.

Maggie did the rounds saying good-night with lots of hugs and kisses but the best one of all came from her Grandfather who smiled and said, ‘a little bird told me that I have you to thank for all this.’

‘Thank you Granddad…but Mum helped a bit.’

Then she was off to her room, but as she climbed the stairs the joy of the evening faded with each step.  There was no escaping the fact that both she and Floater were in deep, deep trouble.  If only he hadn’t made that silly promise that everybody could go to the Oomin Christmas party.

Once in her room she sat on the edge of her bed and scowled at the door to the nursery.  Dare she go in there ?  What would she find if she did ?  Had Floater and Dingle returned yet, or were the others still patiently waiting for them ?

Her heart sank downstairs she could hear the grownup party in full swing, there was music coming from somewhere and she could imagine her mum and dad and the others dancing and having fun.

‘Best get it over with, I suppose’ she said to herself, and she moved off the bed and went slowly over to the nursery door and peered in.

To her surprise there was a lot of activity on the train table, and forgetting herself she rushed over to find out what was going on.

As she got closer she could see the two mice over by one of the trains and then she saw a huddle of Dust Bunnies as they made a circle around Floater.  ‘This is it, ’she thought, ‘this is the council come for Floater.  He’s run out of time and they have come to drag him away to the pot.  Maybe I should just grab him and run.’

Just then Floater looked up and saw her, with that silly lopsided grin on his face he shouted at her, ‘Maggie ! Look I’ve found him… He’s here…!’

True enough, there was indeed a new member in the group, but this was like no Dust Bunny she had ever seen.  This one was like a wisp of smoke, you could see right through him.  What colour she could see was very pale and it seemed to her that one good puff and that would be that.

Suddenly there was tiny yell,  ‘YE GODS AND LITTLE FISHES !’ And the tiny, frail creature turned and pointed a skinny arm in her direction; ‘It’s an Oomin !’

Much to his credit Floater moved very quickly in front of the figure although Maggie wasn’t too sure who he was protecting…her or the new comer.  She had her lips pursed and was ready to defend herself.  She assumed this must be the famous Wizzy and he was supposed to be a wizard so she was taking no chances.

Floater tried to calm everybody down, ‘Wizzy !  I’d like you to meet Maggie. The Oomin I was telling you about…remember ?’

Still pointing his long skinny arm in her direction the new comer replied, ‘What ? You never said anything about Oomins at least you never said you were bringing one here… wherever here is… bit of a shock seeing one this close you know could scare a chap to bits.’

Floater turned to Maggie, ‘you’ll have to forgive him he’s a little bit confused.’

Dingle joined in, ‘he means he’s nuts.’

Maggie just looked down at the little group, ‘ OK but is he going to help us ?’

Floater’s smile slipped a little, ‘Um ! We haven’t actually got to that bit yet !’

‘OCH Mon ! Tell the lassie the truth, he has nay idea what Rismus is…says it’s afore his time, and I fer one believe him.’

‘Me too,’ added Dingle. ‘Look at him, poor old soul he’s older than dust itself.’

Floater was getting close to panic, ‘Yeah; OK…so that doesn’t mean he can’t help… does it ?  We kin edu… edumekate… teach him can’t we ?’

‘We’ve got three hours,’ said Maggie, helpfully.

‘What !’ Screamed Floater, ‘Why only three hours all of a sudden ?’

‘Because it’s nine o’clock now, and Rismus…I mean Christmas, starts at midnight.’

Well you’d better hurry up then… go fetch the books, show Wizzy what Rismus is all about…Go, Go…Go !’

‘Floater !  This is hopeless, why don’t you admit it, there’s nothing you can do.’

‘She’s right you know,’ added Dingle, ‘ye might as well accept your fate to spend the rest of your life in the chamber pot me lad…Yer doomed.’

Maggie fetched the books and held them up while Floater frantically tried to explain to Wizzy all about Rismus and Santa Claus and everything.  But as Maggie looked on as far as she could see it didn’t look as if Wizzy was listening…or even awake.

As time moved on Floater’s voice was getting higher as he too worked out that he wasn’t getting anywhere.  In desperation he yelled, ‘WIZZY ! Are you still with me old son ?’

Suddenly there was movement from the wizard, ‘What..?  Who’s there ?’  And his scrawny arm shot out in Floater’s direction and there was loud Pop and a large puff of red smoke into which Floater disappeared.

Maggie gave a little scream, ‘Floater !  Are you alright ?’  Then she turned her full attention Wizzy’s way, ‘What have you done ?  If you have hurt Floater I’ll… I’ll blow you back to where you came from’ and she took a deep breath puffed up her cheeks.

But before she could carry out her threat Dingle shouted ‘Look there…will you look at that now…did you ever see such a sight ?’

As Maggie looked up she couldn’t believe her eyes, there was Santa Claus ! Well a miniature version of him anyway, complete with sleigh and reindeer.  Although when she looked closer they weren’t reindeer but spiders…flying spiders…and it wasn’t actually Santa Claus either but Floater, now twice his normal size and red… very, very red, with white fluffy bits.

Well, if this is what Floater had in mind when he talked about magic he didn’t seem too pleased about it.  ‘WIZZY !  You silly wizen old fool… look at me … if I ever get down from here I’ll…I’ll…’

Maggie interrupted him, ‘Floater… be nice.’

‘Nice !  Nice !  This IS me being nice !  Although I suppose it wouldn’t do any harm if I flew over the doll’s house a few times would it ?’

‘Don’t ferget to shout Ho! Ho! Ho !  When you do,’ Dingle added helpfully.

Margot looked up at him, ‘My brave Cherrie, be careful…do not do anything silly.’

‘Do anything silly, Him ?  As if he ever does anything else,’ said McFluff.

Floater made a low pass over the model train table, narrowly missing Wizzy’s head, ‘you lot talk as if I was in charge of this thing…or something.’

Maggie smiled weakly at everybody, ‘look I really must be going; I must get to bed or the real Santa Claus won’t come.’  She thought what with Wizzy turning Floater into a little mini Santa Claus, and using his magic to make him fly around so all the Dust Bunnies could see him that might prove to be special enough to get Floater off the hook.

Then he went and spoilt her happy thought.  ‘Hey Maggie; you worked out how you’re going to get Pep and all the others to the party tomorrow ?’

Of course in all the excitement of the dinner party and seeing the most recent goings on in the nursery she had completely forgotten that part of Floater’s promise.  ‘You do it; you can take them down there on your sleigh.’

‘Ho Ho Ho !  I don’t think,’ Came the reply.  ‘You can see the size of this thing. How am I going to fit hundreds of Dust Bunnies on here ?  Besides I think the Oomins might think it strange with me buzzin’ around their ‘eads in this thing; don’t you ?’

‘Hundreds !’ Cried Maggie; ‘did you say hundreds ?’

‘Keep yer shirt on,  we’ll think of something besides I’ve got slightly more important things to worry about, like how do you get these things down ?

Of course he wasn’t the only one who was worried, Maggie said her good nights and left them to get on with it.  ‘Hundreds’… that’s what he said, hundreds, how do I get hundreds of Dust Bunnies to attend a human party without the humans knowing about it.

She got undressed quickly and dived into bed, no use worrying about it, she had to get to sleep or Santa Claus might not come.  But sleep wasn’t coming, her mind worked over time as she thought of idea after idea and just as quickly threw them out.

‘I could wear my hairiest jumper and pin them all onto me,’ she thought. But even that wouldn’t work.  Taking Floater attached to her clothes was one thing but hundreds of his mates as well ?  ‘Impossible; she was bound to get caught and everybody would think her mad.’

It seemed as though she tossed and turned all night and felt as if she hadn’t slept at all.  Images of Floater in that sleigh and his Santa suit kept appearing in her mind as well as something else.  A star, not an ordinary star, this one was very, very bright and seemed to have a face.  Floater was there as well and seemed to be calling her and pointing at the star.

Suddenly she was wide awake, she had no idea what time it was everything was still dark and the room was cold.  When she snapped on the light a red blur appeared out of nowhere and nearly hit her on the head.

‘At last ! I’ve been trying to get you to wake up for ages.’

‘Floater, you little pest, I’m trying to sleep, if I miss Santa Claus because of you.’

‘Ferget him…this is important…. really, really, really important…besides he’s been, I went downstairs and checked for you; all the stockings are full and overflowing…so stop worrying and get dressed.’

‘You !  You have been downstairs ? How may I ask, did Wizzy send you ?’

‘That hairy wizen old has been ?  Nah ! I went in me sleigh, it’s not so ‘ard once you get the ‘ang of it.  Now hurry up… there’s something you just gotta see.’

Without another word Maggie did as she was told; shivering slightly as she pulled on her warmest clothes, which wasn’t easy with Floater buzzing around the room like a crazy flying thing.

Eventually, much to Floaters delight she was ready and they headed towards the nursery door but just before they got there Floater said, ‘now before we go in don’t switch the lights on OK ?’

‘Why not ? I’ll need the lights to see.’

‘Not this time, jest trust me alright ?’

‘That’s twice you’ve asked me to trust you and to be perfectly honest; I’m not sure I do, nor do I think I’ll ever trust you again…ever.’

‘What a worry wart, go on open the door, but slowly and leave the lights off.

Slowly and silently Maggie opened the door and looked inside.  ‘Oh My !’  Was all she could say.  She pushed the door wide open and just stood there in complete amazement.

The room was transformed beyond belief.  Although it appeared to be in complete darkness she could make out everything, the rocking horse, over by the big window. The doll’s house which was lit up with lights in every room; there was even a Dust Bunny sized Christmas tree complete with tiny spots of light shining in the branches.

Over on the model railway tables the effect was the same all the houses and buildings around the tracks were lit up as were the tiny passenger carriages.  All the trains seemed to be in motion as well and as the Flying Scotsman went past she could see McFluff in his driver’s seat with Margot and a lot of other Dust Bunnies in the first class carriages right behind him.

The whole scene from the train tables to the doll’s house was covered in a white glistening powder that looked as if it had been snowing.   It was truly magical and Maggie felt tiny tears of joy trickling down her cheeks.  ‘Oh Floater; look at it it’s… it’s fantastic.  I can’t see them sending you to the chamber pot now can you ?  Did Wizzy do all this ?’

Floater was floating there in his sleigh just a few inches away from her, ‘not him… but I’ll admit he did point us in the right direction.  One of your books Pee nock… something or other.’

‘You mean Pinocchio.’

‘Yeh! Him !’

‘What about Pinocchio ?’

‘Well, not him exactly, in the book something about a blue fairy and a star…’

‘Star Light Star bright, the first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.’ Maggie recited.

‘What ? Yeah, OK !  Something like that, well Wizzy remember that there was a Dust Bunny called Star.’

‘And ?’

‘And she was somehow special and could grant wishes; if she felt like it…that is.’

‘So where did you find this Star ?’

‘She was up in the loft as well as Wizzy… Maggie; this sleigh thing is magic, can I keep it Huh ?  Me and Wizzy…’

Wizzy and I’ corrected Maggie.

‘What ? Oh Yeah! Right…well me and him whooshed up to the loft in this thing and found her.  Now she remembered Rismus alright.  Seems she was once part of the tree decorations, back in the days when they had Rismus trees.  She was pals with the fairy who was sat on top.  Now she reckons some of the fairy’s magic dust got transferred onto her, and well; see for yourself…Ta Dah !…it works.’

‘So where is Star now ?  Do I get to meet her ?’

‘You bet, she’s my all time favourite Dust Bunny now, she’s with Margot on the train.’

‘So do I take it that all has been forgiven and your future life is no longer hanging by a thread over a very big, deep chamber pot ?’

A dark shadow appeared to take away Floater’s smile.  ‘Well; more or less I suppose but…’

‘But ?’  Repeated Maggie, knowing full well what was coming but she was determined to make Floater squirm a little.

‘W-e-l-l, there is still the matter of the promise…to .. Ah !’

‘To Ah !  Go on spit it out.’

‘Ah…  take everybody to the party downstairs… that’s all !’

Maggie couldn’t hold it in any longer ‘I think you can thank your new friend Star because it just so happens my fuzzy little friend that because of her I have an idea.  But we must move very fast, in fact we have to move right now… before anyone gets up.  Go tell Pep and the others to get ready because I will only have time for one trip.’

‘Do I get a clue ?’

‘You most certainly do not !  This is my little bit of magic and you are not going to pinch the credit for it.’

‘Spoilsport !’

‘Stop muttering and go get everyone ready.’

Maggie left the nursery and went back to her bedroom. She went over to the main doorway and gently pulled it open.  The house was mainly in darkness and all seemed quiet.

 

Leaving the door slightly ajar she tip toed back into the bedroom and put on her hairiest pullover and went back to the nursery and over to the doll’s house.  All who wanted to go were ready, to her relief there was only about twenty five or so.  According to Floater there was a few more over by the trains who also wanted to go, making about forty in all.

For the first time Maggie sighed with relief.  She could do this, her reputation for keeping her word was intact, even although it was Floater who had made the promise in the first place.  That was another matter, she could deal with him later and when he was least expecting it.

With her passengers attached she moved silently out onto the landing and down the stairway to the hall below.  As she approached the main dining room her heart was in her mouth, expecting to be discovered at any moment.

So when the old grandfather clock in the hall started to chime she almost fainted with fear.  To her the chimes were ever so loud, as if they wanted to wake the whole household so that all could see what she was doing, they seemed to go on forever but the noise came to an end as the old clock struck four.

Maggie crept into the dining room and went over to the big Christmas tree and started to place the Dust Bunnies in amongst the strands of cotton wool strung between the branches to look like snow.

The idea was brilliant, nobody would see anything unusual, and anyway all of their attention would be elsewhere on the presents, or the food and of course the party games.

She was nearly finished her task when Floater, still in his flying sleigh, appeared with his own passengers.  The gang, as he chose to call them, had grown by two new members.  Wizzy and Star, Maggie watched as Floater took them high in the air and up to the very top of the tree.

He hovered close to the fairy on the very top and Maggie held her breath in case he went too close and caused a disaster.  This was, after all was said and done, Floater we were dealing with and Maggie felt that it still wasn’t too late for him to make a complete dog’s breakfast out of the whole thing.

However, for once everything seem to go as planned, Star was transferred once more to the wand of the Christmas tree fairy, and the other gang members were given positions of great vantage where they would see everything and so be part of festivities.

Shaking with sheer relief Maggie returned unseen to the safety of her bedroom and sank into her bed.  It was another few minutes before she realised that she had been in the dining room and hadn’t once looked in the direction of the big fireplace to see if Santa Claus had really paid them a visit.

It was the sound of running feet and the squeals of children playing that woke her up.  She put on her dressing gown and stuck her head out of the doorway and was met by a chorus of ‘Come On Sleepyhead…don’t you want to see what Santa brought you ?’ As they disappeared down the stairs and were gone.

Maggie followed them down and entered the dining room once more now the room was in full light she wanted to check the tree and all her tiny friends just to make sure they were all safely tucked away.  She was a little surprised to see an extra decoration high in the tree, there in the upper branches was a small sleigh complete with a big red Santa, who as she looked a little closer winked at her.

By the time the grownups appeared, a little bleary eyed and ready for a light breakfast the dining room looked as if there had been an explosion in a wrapping paper factory covered as it was in shreds of coloured paper, string, sticky tape and fancy ribbons.

The whole house was full of excited chatter and laughter and as Maggie stood and took it all in a large pair of hands clasped her from behind.  There stood her Grandfather, and he looked the happiest of them all.

Indeed; from everything she overheard no one could remember a better Christmas.

Lunch was everything she had hoped for and more.  After lunch some of the grownups went for a walk but most, including the children, went to their rooms for a nap.

Maggie started to return the Dust Bunnies to the nursery and as she opened the door she was a little sad to see the magic of last night’s visit had disappeared and everything looked back to normal.

Once more in the dining room to pick up Pep and the council members she heard a little voice, ‘Pisst !  Hey Maggie up here !

As she looked up she could see Floater; thankfully back to his normal size and colour hanging over the side of the sleigh.  ‘I think this thing is out of go juice; and all the spiders ‘ave gone ‘ome.  Couldn’t give us a lift could ya ?’

She had to stand on tip toe on a chair to reach them but with a smile she rescued Margot, Dingle, McFluff as well as Floater.  ‘What about Star and Wizzy ?’

‘Nah !  Don’t worry about them, they’re staying, they’re up there with the Queen and will go back to the loft with her when she goes.’

‘That’s a shame; I’d liked to have met them properly, that and thank them both for saving your worthless hide.’

Floater blustered into life, ‘of all the cheek…if it wasn’t for me…’

Then a strong Scottish accent spoke, ‘why don’t you hold yer tongue wee man; and just fer once quit while yer a head.’

Everybody, except Floater laughed.

‘Mademoiselle Maggie is zees snow ?’

Maggie looked closer at Margot to find that when she had taken her from the tree some of the cotton wool had come as well.  ‘No Margot that stuff is called cotton wool; quite harmless.  Somehow I don’t think Dust Bunnies would like real snow.’

But Margot persisted, ‘so what is Ze snow ?’

Maggie replied, it’s white like the cotton wool and very pretty to look at but it’s very cold to touch but great fun to play on; if you’re a human that is.’

‘So why is snow forbidden to Dust Bunnies ?’ Floater asked.

It’s not forbidden, I just said I didn’t think you’d like it that’s all after all it’s made of water and I know how you hate that stuff.’

There were no more questions on the subject.  While they were quiet Maggie brought up another subject and directed it towards Dingle and McFluff.  ‘You know there are people here from Ireland and Scotland ?  It is just possible that they are part of the same family that brought you two here all those years ago.

McFluff asked, ‘whit are ye sayin’ lassie ?’

I’m saying that it may be possible for you to get home, if that is still what you want.  Of course you will have to think about it, I mean seriously think about it.  It’s possible that they are not the same families and you would end up somewhere strange and lonely.  Lots of things will have changed and I’m sure that they won’t be the same places that you remember.  So don’t answer straight away, they’ll be here for a few more days yet OK.’

Later on when everything was; more or less, back to normal Maggie and Floater were alone in her room.  ‘That was quite a day,’ Maggie whispered.

‘Best Rismus ever, if you ask me, It was everything you said it would be and more besides.  We going to do it again next year ?’

‘Oh Yes ! Why not !  That gives you a whole year to dream up some more trouble for us to get into with the council.  You know what I think ?’

‘No, what do you think ?’

‘I think you secretly love that chamber pot and really want to spend your time in there.  I’m going to ask my Grandfather if I can have it and we’ll take it home with us and every time I think about Christmas I’ll put you in it, how’s that ?’

‘Humph !  That’s gratitude for ye, if you want to know what I think…I think if it wasn’t for me you wouldn’t have any real fun at all.’

‘One day, when I’m not quite so tired remind me to teach you the true meaning of the word fun.  Good Night Floater.’

‘Night, night Maggie !  Oh Yes… and Merry Rismus to you.’

‘And to you Floater.’

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Who are the sad mindless, faceless Trolls who think bullying on the internet is a clever thing to do ?

What inane pleasure can they possibly get from their vile attacks on people they probably don’t know merely because they can get away with it without ever showing their face ?

Perhaps that’s it, the sheer anonymity of the internet allows the m to bully without the risk of ever coming face to face with their victims. It requires no courage whatsoever while they hide under the illusion that they will never get caught.

Mentally they obviously belong in the same sad group of humanity who hide beneath a hoodie and take pleasure in destroying public property. Those who in the name of fun will happily toss a brick through a shop window kick in glass-sided shelters at bus stops, key parked cars or rip up litter bins and toss them into the path of oncoming cars.

Of course bullying is not new, it was something we had to endure. Every school at every level had them, and the military had more than their fair share. As did many of the work places I remember, usually some useless moron that had a shoe size bigger than their IQ who for some unexplained reason ended up King of the Playground/ Barracks/Factory Canteen.

At least in the old days these bullies were visible, everybody knew who they were and depending on luck or having the right sort of friends most of us either weathered the storm or in a fit of over enthusiastic bravado tried to solve the problem one way or another.

However, cyber bullying is altogether different these morons lack the courage to abuse their victims in the real world, hiding as they do, not only in the vastness of the internet but also in the way that the internet can cover a person’s true identity.

What the internet cannot conceal, and a fact that these faceless ones fail to grasp is that the internet cannot conceal the inner workings and therefore the mentality of these cretins.

In broad general terms these bullies will have many problems of their own, they will certain suffer from low self esteem, feeling ignored or bypassed by the community around them. Hurting others will give them a false sense of power, possibly seeing this as a way to impress a group of like minded people.
Other types of bullies see it as a fun way to show off, demonstrating how clever they are, for some such behaviour might be normal to them especially if they are egged on by similar people they meet or attract on line.

The difference between the physical bully and a cyber bully is just that… Whereas one can literally see the damage they cause to their victim or victims, the other has no idea how much damage they are causing. On the other hand, I might be being too kind and understanding, it is just possible that in their minds eye they do know exactly how much hurt and anxiety they cause and simply don’t care.

For me the old adage “Sticks and Stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” is perfectly true, I have a T shirt with the words Writ Big, “ WARNING This Turkey Shoots Back !

Trouble is not every one is like me, not everyone can see these sad twisted little people for what they are. Pathetic human rejects that forever will remain on the fringes of humanity where their only pleasure comes from haunting the dark corners of the internet sniping at others from the shadows.

These cowards care little who they hit, they never see the consequences of their actions, so why lose any sleep over it ?

However it is way past time the owners and controllers of the, so called. Social Media took responsibility and started to throw light into these dark corners. There are many, many good and logical reasons why a person may wish to hide their true identity from the vast internet world and not to make personal information too public. Although having said that shouldn’t there be a way where the internet can accurately identify, and therefore hold to account anyone for their on line actions ?

Daily we see and hear hundreds of examples of Twitter and FaceBook attacks on people, where someone has become the victim of a humiliating image or hurtful comment going viral. Some victims of such vile acts have gone on to take their own lives.

True instant access to the internet these days has eliminated the time we had for second thought nowadays anyone who feels slighted in any way just has to share it with the world in a Tweet, often regretting their stupidity a few seconds later !

I hope the cyber bullies out there read this, or if you know one, please feel free to send them a copy or post this where the moron can read it. I’d love to hear from them explaining, if they can, why they do what they do, how it makes them feel and so on. I’d love to know.

I would also like to remind them what Thumper’s father told him, “ If you can’t say somthin’ nice then don’t say nothin’ at all”.

For a group of people that go around preaching Love and Goodwill to all men, especially at this time of year, I find certain groups of religious fanatics don’t appear to have read that part of their scriptures.

Since proclaiming myself a Pagan, and writing about my research into the origins of religion and the birth of organised religions the amount of abuse that is tossed my way is frankly quite staggering.

When I claim not being able to understand why the three main religions have their original belief structure based upon the first five books of the same Bible, and all believe in the same single God why their modern day followers seem to think their God is the one true God and somehow claim exclusive rights !

Plus having the same basic starting point and all apparently accept the ten basic commandments why then do some think it acceptable to kill the followers of the other religions in the name of the same God ?

Also I can no longer understand why the followers of the Jewish faith still have trouble accepting the character Jesus Christ a Messiah, after all they had been praying for one for ages to help liberate them from the oppression of the Egyptians and Romans.   Now they have liberated themselves from those forces, while the Christians patiently wait for the second coming, are the Jews still waiting for the  first ?

Anyway, in response to some of the  Christian Hate mail and comments, please see that I am not alone in my research and reasoning that the true birth of all you think you believe in is a lot older than you were told…. Now ask yourself Who lied to me and more importantly….. WHY ?

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Pagan 3

Anyway however you choose to celebrate at this time of year, and whatever reason you chose can we all agree to be more tolerant of each other and try to…….  Celebrate

As Christmas Approaches…

December 9, 2014

Pagan

The Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice (also known as Yule) is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world.

Our ancient ancestors were hunter gatherers and spent most of their time outdoors and as such the seasons and weather played a very important part in their lives. So it is not too surprising to learn that our ancestors had a great reverence for, and some even worshipped the sun.

The Norsemen of Northern Europe saw the sun as a wheel that changed the seasons. It was from the word for this wheel, houl, from which we believe the word Yule is derived. At mid-winter the Norsemen lit bonfires, told stories and drank sweet ale.

The pre Christian Romans also held a festival to celebrate the rebirth of the year. Saturnalia ran for seven days from the 17th of December. It was a time when the ordinary rules were turned upside down. Men dressed as women and masters dressed as servants. The festival also involved decorating houses with greenery, lighting candles, holding processions and giving presents.

The Winter Solstice falls on the shortest day of the year, now the 21st December but before the calendar was adjusted this would have been the 25th and was celebrated in Britain long before the arrival of the Romans or Christianity. The Druids (Celtic priests) would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and give it as a blessing. Giant Oak tree were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was seen as a potent symbol of life in the darkest of the winter months.

It was also the Druids who began the tradition of the Yule log. The Celts thought that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit to conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year.

A casual look around will show that many of these customs are still followed today, now incorporated into the Christian and secular celebrations of Christmas for so long many Christians accept them as being of Christian invention.

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Fire, light and evergreens

Pre-Christian, northern societies used to enliven the dark days of the winter solstice with a celebration of fire, light and jollity, to create relief in the season of nature’s dormancy and to hurry along the renewal of springtime.

Further south in the Mediterranean regions it was believed that the Sun God lived for but one year, born on the 25th December and childlike grew in strength as the year advanced until waning into old age as the winter approached. Like many Gods the Sun God Mithras was born of a virgin and in pre Christian artworks is often depicted carrying a lamb.

Therefore it is not too difficult to see the similarities between the Sun God Mithras and the Biblical descriptions attributed to Jesus, from the Sun God to the Son of God.

No one knows when Jesus was born, again because the calendar has been messed around with several times, a month added here and there, days added and or taken away. Additionally, a fact often ignored by the faithful, is that two thousand years ago no one kept track of births, or deaths of the poor so it became easy for the leaders of organized religion to pretty much say what they wanted, who was going to argue ?

For the record it was around 340AD when Pope Julius the first officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December, after all this period was already a period of celebration why not just hijack it and make it your own ? After all I doubt the people were going to let anyone take away the Winter Solstice party.

Over time the early church tried their damndest to outlaw and banish Pagan practices wherever possible. Where they couldn’t they just took over the established Pagan festivals and claimed them as their own. As a quick aside, anyone ever wondered why the dates of Easter wander around so much ? One set birthday but the supposed day of his death is all over the place ???? ( PS Easter Eggs and the Easter Bunny are Pagan as well ).

The tradition of decorating the home with native evergreens is a truly ancient one, since early pre religious times evergreens have been valued for their ability to retain signs of life in the middle of winter – even in some instances producing berries and flowers.

Early Christians retained the Pagan tradition of displaying evergreen plants in the home in winter to Pagans this symbolized the promise of coming life in the depth of winter, later adapted by Christians to symbolize, everlasting life.

Holly, ivy and evergreen herbs such as bay and rosemary were the most commonly used, all with symbolic meanings that were familiar to our ancestors. Rosemary, for remembrance, and bay, for valour, are still well known. Holly and ivy were a particularly popular combination, the holly traditionally thought to be masculine and ivy feminine, giving stability to the home.

A kissing-bough was often hung from the ceiling. This would consist of a round ball of twigs and greenery, decorated with seasonal fruit, such as apples. This was the precursor to a bunch of mistletoe, under which no lady could refuse a kiss. Mistletoe was sacred to the Druids and was once called ‘All Heal’. It was thought to bring good luck and fertility, and to offer protection from witchcraft.

In the medieval period, the Yule log was ceremoniously carried into the house on Christmas Eve, and put in the fireplace of the main communal room. Often decorated with greenery and ribbon, it was lit with the saved end of the previous year’s log and then burnt continuously for the Twelve Days of Christmas, providing much needed light and warmth.

So please, as you prepare the feast, wrapping up all the presents and placing them beneath a living tree brought into your house especially for the occasion. As you are kissing loved ones under the mistletoe and hanging a holly wreath upon your door you are in fact celebrating the Winter Solstice with us Pagans….
What’s missing ?

At what point the Christians did away with the final orgy that ended the celebration is unclear…. No wonder the Romans didn’t get on with them !

Celebrate

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