Ok, I know I said I was going to try and keep my mouth shut until Christmas, but you obviously misunderstood me. What I meant to say was that I was not going to post any lengthy week-day blogs at a time when I should be working hard enough to actually survive Christmas. 'Phew!' I hear you all say in unison, 'How would we have survived without him?'
Also, that decision was made (to cut down on weekday posts) partly because my blogger was - and still is - behaving so erratically, that it sometimes won't even let me comment on my own post. As I write this, I keep getting warnings that the connection has been broken and that my text has not been saved, and I have to click the 'ignore warning' bit to get the whole thing to slide back up, like the keys on a grand piano slide sideways - most disconcerting when you're half way through a concert.
After spending about £150 on printing and postage last year, H.I. and me decided that we would not be sending cards to anyone other than absolute nearest and dearest this year, but now - as the postal deadline looms - we have, of course, changed our minds again, and when I have finished changing the washer on a dripping tap, the rest of the afternoon will be spent in designing one. I always think of the bloke who put a notice in The Times many years ago saying, "Mr and Mrs ----- will not be putting a notice in The Times this Christmas, but will instead be sending cards to all their friends".
Anyway, I have - upon pain of excommunication - promised to send a card to dear Mise this year (because she put me in an embarrassing situation by sending me a late one last year, after I had wept online and said that nobody ever sends me cards) and after she added the
I spent a good thirty seconds discussing this with H.I. and we have come to a compromise. The solution we have come up with is that I will take one of the smaller of her colourful paintings and scan it for reproduction, thereby shamelessly using the greeting as a sort of low-key advert for her work at the same time.
This decision was made partly because of a card that I received last week from my most influential and valued client, and the frontal, main image was of a large stone head which I had carved for them, sitting in their garden and covered in last year's snow. This is their card for 2012, and will be sent to all of their friends and acquaintances, who I hope will ask (also in unison), "Who made you that wonderful sculpture, and how do I get in touch with him, so that he can make me something too?"
The thing is that some people forget that you exist until you pester them with your presence, but if you pester them too much, they begin to wish that you didn't. Anyway, I am hoping that the magic will rub off on H.I. this year, and that - having a cheap reproduction on their mantle-piece - they will want the real thing, early in 2013. I know this is besmirching the spirit of the festival with overt commercialism, but just compare us to all the companies who advertise on T.V. in the run-up, and I am sure you will forgive us.
There is one small but significant problem - H.I. is renowned for her colourful and tropical paintings depicting warm - not to say hot - weather in Moslem countries. She doesn't do snow, and she doesn't do robins sitting on logs. She doesn't do winter Northern Hemisphere and she doesn't do sub-zero. She doesn't do bright red in large quantities and she doesn't do the baby Jesus. She doesn't do churches illuminated from within by candles through stained-glass, and she doesn't do candles. She doesn't do holly and she doesn't do mistletoe.
What she has done a lot of is palm-trees, and she has dozens of depictions of them, sweltering in Moroccan mid-day heat, the sky ablaze in blue or orange behind them.
Last night, she dug out a small painting of a palm tree, and asked whether or not it would do. At least the palm is one that is growing next to a row of houses in Camden, Bath, but you wouldn't know that unless you were told.
I wonder how she would react if I gave the top a light dusting of snow, and scrawled a little robin pecking for scraps in the right-hand corner? Artists are so precious about their work.