A Christmas Ghost Story

‘Know whit’s traditional at Christmas?’ he said. ‘Ghost stories. Everybiddy loves a Ghost story’ I swirled the beer at the bottom of my glass and smiled. ‘Load a shite, in’t it?’ ‘Naw, naw. Look at Dickens and A Christmas Carol. Classic ghost story that.’ I raised an eyebrow. ‘Name another then.’ ‘Well, they don’t need to be set at Christmas, dae they? Take that MR James bloke. He wrote hundreds a ghost stories and used to invite his work pals tae his office, get them drunk and scare the living shite oot of them. And wis there no a series of ghost stories oan the telly at Christmas? Oanyway,’ he paused to take a swig of his beer, ‘it’s a tradition. Nothing else to say aboot it.’ ‘Dae ye think they’re real? Ghosts?’ ‘Naw! Gie us a brek! See me? Man o science. If...

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Santa and Sexism

I am proud to publish here a piece my 17 year old daughter, Claire Thomson, wrote in response to an experience of everyday sexism. Last week, I was at a party in a rural community hall. Around fifty alcohol soaked under twenties bounced off walls plastered with posters advertising salsa for the over 60s, French for the fearful and Christmas fayres. The night was drawing to a close and I, clinging to my boyfriend, was awaiting my carriage home. As we argued about the quality of The Hobbit and its arguably soul destroying length, a friend of his approached. He staggered over, dressed as Santa, laden with premature Christmas gifts of beer. “Beer?” He offered my boyfriend. Upon his refusal of said beverage, I stood patiently, awaiting what, to me at least, seemed to...

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It’s Christmastime….

What does Christmas mean to you? As atheists we don’t celebrate the Christian holiday – which was borrowed from the existing Pagan Solstice celebrations when Christianity was introduced to Europe. Even the Pope has recently gone on record saying this. But we do celebrate: we buy each other gifts, eat too much food and avoid the Queen’s Christmas Message just like many others do. So, if we don’t believe in Christ and God, why do we bother? Partly, it’s habit. We’ve always done it – our parents did it with us, we did it with our daughter. Traditions – like habits – can be hard to break. Especially when our society goes so crazy over Christmas. The supermarkets have long queues at the tills, the shelves empty quickly, from September you can’t...

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Merry Christmas, Mum

Even before I left, I knew doing the Christmas shopping with my mum wasn’t a good idea. I was proven right. First, we went to Lidl. “What’s that?” “A jigsaw.” “Oh. That’s nice. What’s that?” “A calligraphy set.” “….” “A fancy pen.” “Oh. What’s that? That’s lovely, isn’t it?” “ It’s a wooden sled.” “A sled? Ah thought it wis a table.” “No, Mum.” “Oh, look, a dart board! Ah’d love a dart board. I wish I had somewhere to put it.” “But mum, your eyesight isn’t the best.” (She has macular degeneration and cataracts) “But it’d pass the time.” “Do you not think it’d be better to pass the time doing something that wouldn’t end up with broken lights, mirror, people…?” “Och, you! Oh, look, they’ve got darts too!” “No good without the dart board?” “What’s that?” Repeat ad...

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Warning: Grumpy Alert

[tweetmeme source=”nettiewriter” http://www.URL.com] I detest this time of year. Not in a “bah humbug” kind of way, but this administrative reboot of the calendar makes me reflect on the past twelve months and forces me to take stock of where I am and what I’ve achieved. And 2011 has sucked like a toothless granny eating a mint imperial. I don’t think there has been one day where I can honestly say I have been pain free or not exhausted. Some days have been better than others, but I’m having to accept that I just can’t do what I want to anymore and that makes me angry and frustrated with myself. Depression has reared its ugly head again too, no doubt due to a combination of my illness and the medication I was taking to deal with it. The house is...

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