Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Seasonal highlights part one: pre-Christmas

OttoThere's a new dog in town. Well, actually, he lives in Lancashire with the parentals, but I paid a pre-Christmas visit and got to take him for walks. He's about a year old. He wasn't technically a rescue dog, but he needed rescuing - he was bred as a show dog and then wasn't quite good looking enough. He's very thin, he doesn't eat, he sits sideways like he was taught to, and he trots dutifully along beside you with no obvious enthusiasm. It's quite heartbreaking. But he can actually fetch, which is promising, and once he's learnt to wee outside and eat proper dog food (rather than table scraps, which is what he was brought up on), he'll be right. I'm glad he didn't pass muster, he'll have a better life than if he had.

So there's the dachshund. And then there's the Miele. MieleI have never had much luck with washing machines. This is the fourth one through these doors in eight years. The first was one M bought off Dave the Rave when he left the country. It never did more than get stuff wet, really, but it worked. We sold it on when M inherited his mum's. Which was a new-ish Electrolux, but broke down a couple of years later just before ex-housemate S left. Mistake #1 was not getting it repaired. We had a tumble dryer at that point, but it was in the bathroom, and I'd found out how many water and electrical regulations that was breaking. So I got rid of the broken washing machine, sold on the tumble dryer, and bought a Hotpoint washer-dryer. That was mistake #2.
Anyone will tell you that washer-dryers are shit, including the engineers you have to call out to them on a depressingly regular basis. They don't wash very well, they hardly dry at all, they *eat* electricity in the process, and then they blow up. Which ours duly did. I hated it from the start, but I cried when it died. Where were we going to find the cash for a new washing machine just before Christmas?
The answer was that I bought M a third of a washing machine for Christmas, and he bought me two thirds of a washing machine. And this time, we got it right. We bought a Miele. It was number two on the Which Washing Machine list (number one is a Miele as well), and even the man who knows everything about washing machines says they're basically the bollocks. And I love it. It is the MacBook of washing machines. It arrived on the 22nd, and after we installed it, I stroked its sturdy corners and sat cross-legged in front of it for its entire first cycle.
Cabaret at Bartlemas ChapelBut it's not all been introspective dog-walking and appliance-stroking. No. It's a social time of year, and while I begged off the NGO X Christmas party (ceilidh! karaoke! other circles of hell!) we did have a team high tea, which was good fun and marvellously festive, though I would have preferred a higher sandwich:cake ratio myself. I did some mulled celebrating of the solstice, which was also lovely, but I think the highlight was the Queen of Clubs Pre-Christmas Cabaret, featuring Oxford Maqam, Kimwei and Scarlett in the Wilderness, all playing to a shawl-swathed audience in the tiny and ridiculously atmospheric Bartlemas Chapel. I am suspicious of any act whose description contains the word 'burlesque' (SITW - the first two acts were anything but), but it was far too cold for corsetry. And I think all the better for it. Worth listening out for any of them... and remarkable to see them all in the same place. My hat was off to the organisers. At least, as soon as I got back in the warm.
Now, I must away and wash my pyjamas. Again.



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