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1 AN OLD LAND ROVER
STORY 31 CHRISTMAS LIGHT RAGE
Well that’s the annual job of putting the Christmas lights up along with the associated problems.
Every year after Christmas I roll the lights up on lengths of wood so that they will not get tangled, or bulbs will not be broken, only to unravel them the next year and end up with a Gordion knot, a tangled mass of wires and bulbs .
You lay the lights out on the floor slowly untangling them and the wife walks in and treads on a few bulbs. Then it’s back up into the attic to look for the little plastic bag that has 2 spare bulbs and a special fuse bulb. You find a bag of bulbs but they fit none of your lights. And do not say they are in the box that the lights came in, no that was thrown away as soon as the lights were unpacked because you will never get the lights back in the box they came in. How they packed them in the first place remains a mystery it is as though each box is a miniature Tardis. And so you throw the box away and put the plastic bag in a very safe place, it is so safe in fact that you will never find it. That is of course until you sell an old ornamental teapot at a car boot and it falls out as the buyer inspects it. It could stay in the pot and the new owner gets a plastic bag of bulbs that fit none of his lights. There must be millions of small plastic bags with bulbs no one can use in attics and cupboards up and down the country.
The lights are then wound around the tree. I always plug the lights in and start from the bottom. (You cannot do it from the top with the lights plugged in, just try it, very awkward) and then you find when you reach the top you have not got enough lights to reach, and so it’s unwind and then rewind. You then get them to reach the top only to find that in concentrating on reaching the top the lights are no longer lit as some bulb has either dropped out or worse still has blown.
Then starts the tortuous effort to find it.You try to leave the lights on the tree during this operation, but soon have to accept the inevitable and take them off during which process they get all tangled up and you end up as you started with a tangle of bulbs and wires. After two days at this you accept the inevitable and get a new set from B&Q. If you are like me and loath throwing anything away you roll up the old lights ready to try again next year. If you throw them away do not save any of the bulbs as spares for other lights as you will also misplace them and anyway they will not fit.
A bad case scenario with lights is if they fail when the tree is fully dressed. Worse still is if they fail intermittently and come on again when the tree is vigorously shaken. In this case it is not worth taking the lights down, therefore all that is left by Boxing day is the fairy sitting upon a bare brown tree with a pile of fir tree spines and broken baubles around the base.
Then there are the outside lights now I would put them up in November when it is fairly warm but no her High Splongness insists they only go up after the 15th Dec when it is snowing and with freezing fingers you hang on to the gutter 30 ft in the air as a blizzard whips around the chimney tops and up your trouser legs. How Santa Clause copes I do not know.
Then there are the amount of lights. This problem started 5 years ago when a resident in our close put up a few more lights than was PC for our neighbourhood. There were dark mutterings about skudgers and low life until they were mentioned in the local paper as I quote ‘An oasis of light in an otherwise dark and lonely street untouched by the spirit of Christmas’ These were strong words dismissed by most as flowery journalism but which were taken to heart by my dearest. The next day saw a trip to an army surplus store in Nottingham and the purchase of two WW2 aircraft search lights. These were duly set up in the front garden with the power taken from the street light outside the house. Time came for the big switch on. The journalist was invited and it was he who threw the switch. I was born after the war and had never seen a search light working, there was a loud noise as the bulbs lit and two beams of pure white light shot up into the sky only to illuminate a jet as it was heading to land at the local airport. The brightness of the lights was somewhat enhanced because when they were switched on all the street lights in Glenfield went out. We learnt later that the pilot a flyer from the Iraq war thinking he was about to be nuked put the plane into a steep rolling dive heading straight for us pressing all the buttons he could find hoping that one of them would send a missile into our house. When nothing happened he opened his cargo doors and bombed us with traveller’s suit cases. During the confusion my wife started to rotate the lights so that they shone along the street or into houses temporarily blinding any one unlucky enough to look at them.
I had also bought at a very good price some blow up Santa Clauses the idea was to start the compressor to blow them up when the lights were turned on. Imagine the surprise when a row of blow up sex dolls were illuminated in the search lights glare.
Mr Edwards from No6 a WW2 veteran put on his old air raid warden steel helmet and came bustling up the street wanting to know why our blackout curtains were not up and asking if Jerry was here yet.
We have down sized in recent years, although I still tend to go over the top with my lights, not content with a few strings of icicles hanging from the gutter. No I have waving Santa Clauses, flashing reindeer, shooting stars with lights draped over bushes and in trees, lining the car port. Blow up Santa’s adorn the roof of the car port whilst underneath are more strings of bright twinkly lights. All this being fed from one timer and one 13 amp socket which has a tendency to get rather warm.
Even as I write this she has decided that SHE is getting bored with the normal layout and SHE fancies a change.
I have spent the last years perfecting the layout of the lights. There are hundreds of eyelets, hooks, and screw holes on the front of the house, all exactly positioned. I have plans of the light layout that look like a roadmap of Milan. All the plugs, transformers, and sockets are numbered and strategically positioned to give the shortest route for each of the forty eight wires that will run eventually to the one 13 amp plug.
“Well can’t you just move those lights that way and swop the blow up Santas with the twinkly reindeer. Oh and while you’re at it…….”
It’s bad enough putting the lights up without having to drill even more holes in the house; it resembles a Swiss cheese already. But what my Cosmic Mega Lump wants she normally gets. I would not mind but she is only doing it because Mrs Jones down the close has changed some of hers for those new blue lights.
Oh dear she is tapping her wooden leg impatiently on the parquet floor, this is her way of saying.
“I am waiting and my patience is running out”.
Better get the ladders out then.
“Coming my dearest”.