It’s time for that well-established winter tradition

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The crisp cold air carries a pungent aroma that will be familiar to those who walked through Falkirk town centre in the heady days of April.

As my nostrils twitch to a smell that put the “high” into High Street, my eyes are assaulted by bright lights outside house after house that make Las Vegas look like a blackout in a mineshaft.

Walking along through the mighty waft of a freshly cultivated class B crop and the atomic neon glow flowing from various properties, my footsteps crunch on the broken glass of a Buckfast bottle carelessly discarded the night before by some merry little street urchin and I admit to myself it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

The clues have been there for some time – entire channels devoted to films about the festive season with actors you recognise but cannot name, parents looking haggard and talking about toys and quick, high interest loans in the same sentence and pigs in blankets and sprouts magically appearing in large quantities in Iceland and other freezer-endowed premises.

I don’t know why it didn’t hit me earlier, after all it does happen every year.

Maybe I languish on the banks of that very long river in Africa when it comes to Christmas.

Denial floats away though when you put the tree up and start praying your little one doesn’t have a sudden change of mind about his must-have toy.

Whatever you do to live, drive and survive this festive season, I hope you have a good one and experience all the joy Christmas and Hogmanay can bring without the lifelong handicap of my default setting of cynicism and grumpy old grinchiness.