28 November 1997



Now, we want to order our turkey. Therell be four of us, well two-and-a-half really, you know what teenage girls are like and Mother never eats very much. We only really like the white meat and were going to my sisters for Boxing Day, what would you suggest?".

A sparrow with an over-inflated ego, or two chicken breasts and a pizza. Thats what Id like to say, in reality I offer to save the very smallest turkey just for them, but dont tell anyone else because I wouldnt normally do this. That smallest turkey must get sold a dozen times during November. I can never understand all this worrying about turkey fricassee for weeks after Christmas, we always have a monster bird, more like an ostrich than a turkey, but by Dec 27, just when I fancy cold meat and bubble & squeak, theres only ever a pile of bones left on the plate.

However, this year could be an exception, its beginning to look as though we could be eating turkey until Easter, orders are rather slow in coming in. What we need is an alarmist report in a few of the national papers about an impending turkey shortage and then Ill be able to start sleeping again at night. I think I might start faxing out a few bogus press releases.

A strange phenomenon has crept over the farm in the past few weeks. Piles of logs are appearing neatly stacked by the back door, clear surfaces are materialising in the kitchen and the ironing is disappearing like magic. Undoubtedly this is related to seasonal expectations in some quarters and will cease instantly after a certain date. Probably just as well, I can no longer find any of the school notices that I meant to read when I had a quiet moment, and piles of washed and ironed clothing are being lobbed through bedroom doors, and then left on the floor to be trampled on for a few days before being returned to the washing basket, still neatly folded but now decidedly grubby. Magic like this used to be available for the price of a handful of beans or an old brass lamp, I suspect that inflation will have raised the stakes so that only the latest Hanson CD or a designer sports top will satisfy this fairy godmother or father.

As you can all imagine I tend to spend this time of year twiddling my thumbs and wondering with what I can fill the long hours of the day. So, with the invaluable assistance of a close friend, Ive started producing a few Christmas puddings to add to the display in the shop. On the days when were closed the shop is now full of buckets of fruit marinating in brandy and the traditional stirring of the pudding requires a paddle rather than a wooden spoon. Word of our latest venture is spreading fast, I even had one customer excitedly place an order for a pudding, "like the ones youre supplying to Harrods", well maybe not this year, but who knows. In the meantime I wonder if I could interest them in a few, surplus to requirement, traditional farm turkeys?

Christmas is in the air in the Box household and the children are stacking up Brownie points by being particularly helpful round the house.

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