We had a visit from the Carol Listeners last night. This is the Yorkshire version of carolling in which groups of people knock on your door and you have to sing them a song and then pay them for listening. Or else they take your first born child or television, whichever is handiest.
Quite a few of the festive rituals are different here. For example, it is traditional to include a piece of coal in a child’s stocking as a symbol that all will be warm and well on Christmas Day.
But it has to be someone else’s coal, not your own, or it brings bad luck. There has been a steady procession of strangers wandering through the flat to help themselves to the rapidly diminishing pile in our bathtub. They thoughtfully bring their own sacks and shovels though.
We had planned a family outing to see the Christmas pantomime, an amateur production of Cinderella at the Alhambra. Sadly it was cancelled after some of the locals found out that the Ugly Sisters were played by men in drag and tried to burn the theatre down.
So it was another evening spent in the safe house and we’d just settled down to a game of ludo when Pc Barraclough came staggering through the door, smelling strongly of whisky and cigar smoke after the plain clothes police Christmas do.
He had maintained his undercover disguise throughout, viz his charity shop-bought frock, faux fox fur-collared housecoat and support stockings. (Be careful if you’re reading ‘faux fox fur’ out aloud.)
I needn’t have worried though because he just grinned inanely and collapsed in a heap in the dog’s basket.
We haven’t seen Pc Derek since yesterday. He had another drag act booking at a retired teacher’s bash in Sheffield which makes me wonder if the lad has some sort of death wish.
Ah well, the stockings are hung and I’m feeling maudlin, stuck as we are in a foreign land, but I must remember why we are in exile. It is for the likes of Maurice Wilson that I have made my stand.
And Pcs Derek and Barraclough and the other two Ugly Sisters.