In readiness for Christmas…

In readiness for Christmas, I’m testing out a new cocktail called Ginger Storm.  It’s a whisky cocktail and will make a change from the usual Black Russian.

As you can all see, the drinks cabinet is full.  This year is the first time that this has ever happened.  When I was a kid there was never a full drinks cabinet and since I’ve been married there has never been a full drinks cabinet.  Not until this year, anyway.  Go back about eight years ago and Christmas saw a cabinet with just a few fizzy drinks in it.  This year Gloria and I have been blessed with some money to spend on ourselves and I am thankful to God for that.GingerStorm

You may notice a few things in my cabinet.  On the shelf above the drinks there are five photos.  The two at either end feature Gloria’s father who passed away from a heart attack when she was ten years old.  To Jesus’s right is a photo of my father’s grave and to the left of Jesus is Gloria and Yasmin when Yasmin was only four years of age – nineteen years ago!

Gloria’s parents were both from Saint Helena while my mother is Jamaican.  Because of this differing heritage, you can notice that Gloria and I have different textures of brown skin when we stand next to each other.

Yasmin, meanwhile, has that enviable skin that tans nicely in the summer thanks to the brown blood on her mother’s side.  In spite of this, she still resorts to using fake tan from time to time.  A total waste of money in her case.

To the right of the picture (for those using tablets or mobiles, you may have to open the photo in a new window to see this), hanging on the door handle are two tabards that Gloria wears to her work in a local infant school; the same school that both she and Yasmin went to.  Gloria really enjoys her work there and it’s the most relaxed that she’s been in years.  She gets on amazingly well with her bosses and we’ve been to a few of their private parties.

Generally, we have been blessed when you look at where we have been in years past.  But, there’s always someone that you wish that you were sharing the good things with.  I know who I’m missing, who are you all missing this year?

John Barleycorn should die…I’m thirsty

As in the words of the poet Robert Burns –

There was three kings into the east,
   Three kings both great and high,
 And they hae sworn a solemn oath
   John Barleycorn should die.

John Barleycorn smiles as you drink his blood, the result of fermented barley

John Barleycorn smiles as you drink his blood, the result of fermented barley

I do have a passing interest in ancient beliefs and folk lore.  One of my favourite books on my bookcase (yes, I do have a bookcase in my lounge) is a collection of old folk tales of the British Isles.  One tale within this book is called The Wee Bunnock, the original version of The Gingerbread Man which was a nursery rhyme read to me when I was a toddler.

For those unfamiliar with John Barleycorn, you may want to read this wikipedia page.  I will tell you in summary that it is a story and song dating back centuries with John Barleycorn a metaphor for barley, and the whisky and beer that is made from the barley.  It examines his life, indignities and death and subsequent new life as an invigorating drink.  Man, I offer thanks for his passing every time I have a glass of whisky.

One of the facts that Jehovah’s Witnesses have said to my wife Gloria is that Jesus Christ was not born on 25th December.  She later asked me about this.  I explained that that’s true but this does not disprove anything in the Bible as the Bible never actually tells us Jesus Christ’s birth date.

The date of 25th December as the celebration of Jesus’ birthday should bring a wry smile to every Christian’s face.  This date was previously Dies Natalis Invicti which was probably first celebrated in Rome by order of the Emperor Aurelian who was an ardent worshipper of the Syrian sun-god Baal.  The worship of Baal features repeatedly in The Old Testament as an idolatrous religion.

And as for the twelve days of Christmas, look no further than the twelve day Yule festival.

Well, this is the pity with Britain.  We have a rich history of pre-Christian beliefs, festivals and architecture but it seems to me that not enough Britons care about them.  Our pre-Christian history is as exciting and frightening as that of South America or Africa but do we care enough about this in Britain today?

Okay, you are right.  I am a little biased.  I got a grade A in my History GCSE exam and I enjoy a glass of whisky when it is etiquette to do so.  So, I will continue to shout that John Barleycorn should die…I’m thirsty.