So the plan was that David Waller would get us off to a flying Dickensian start this week, and my thanks to David for doing that, and then I would amble around my book shelves and be thinking of lovely non-Dickensian Christmas extracts to share. It happens to me with great regularity, I read a book and think 'Oh that chapter would be perfect to read at Christmas,' I would find stacks of books.
So I have wandered around my shelves in between working, and reading books for a fiction prize, and thinking it really is time I actually wrote a Christmas card, and going to Blacker Yarn's woollen mill at Launceston to choose the wool for a big knitting project for a big birthday year in 2013 (it would have been bus pass year had the rules not changed) and knitting gauntlets when I really should be reading books for the fiction prize, and watching the Strictly semi-final, and going out Christmas shopping in Chagford and stopping for lunch at the Ring O'Bells, and getting my self-employed tax accounts submitted (thank you Bookhound - Butler, Woodsman and now Accountant) and sorting out a last-minute air mail parcel for the Kayaker in Oz because he has stopped in Queensland and suddenly has a job and an address for a while, and working some more because it would be nice to have all my loss and bereavement etc replies up to date before I log off from the day job for Christmas as it really is a tough time of year for so very many people, oh yes and putting up some decorations and walking the dog and ...and...and..
Excuses, excuses, I am sure that makes me no busier than everyone else by December 19th, but if only I had written all these Christmas literary extracts down, for I have come up with the sum total of precisely ONE...
The Christmas Eve carol singers in Thomas Hardy's Under the Greenwood Tree..
“Now to Farmer Shiner’s, and then replenish our insides, father?” said the tranter.
“Wi’ all my heart,” said old William, shouldering his bass-viol.
Farmer Shiner’s was a queer lump of a house, standing at the corner of a lane that ran into the principal thoroughfare. The upper windows were much wider than they were high, and this feature, together with a broad bay-window where the door might have been expected, gave it by day the aspect of a human countenance turned askance, and wearing a sly and wicked leer. To-night nothing was visible but the outline of the roof upon the sky.
The front of this building was reached, and the preliminaries arranged as usual.
“Four breaths, and number thirty-two, ‘Behold the Morning Star,’” said old William.
They had reached the end of the second verse, and the fiddlers were doing the up bow-stroke previously to pouring forth the opening chord of the third verse, when, without a light appearing or any signal being given, a roaring voice exclaimed —
“Shut up, woll ‘ee! Don’t make your blaring row here! A feller wi’ a headache enough to split his skull likes a quiet night!”
Slam went the window.
“Hullo, that’s a’ ugly blow for we!” said the tranter, in a keenly appreciative voice, and turning to his companions.
“Finish the carrel, all who be friends of harmony!” commanded old William; and they continued to the end.
“Four breaths, and number nineteen!” said William firmly. “Give it him well; the quire can’t be insulted in this manner!”
A light now flashed into existence, the window opened, and the farmer stood revealed as one in a terrific passion.
“Drown en!— drown en!” the tranter cried, fiddling frantically. “Play fortissimy, and drown his spaking!”
“Fortissimy!” said Michael Mail, and the music and singing waxed so loud that it was impossible to know what Mr. Shiner had said, was saying, or was about to say; but wildly flinging his arms and body about in the forms of capital Xs and Ys, he appeared to utter enough invectives to consign the whole parish to perdition.
“Very onseemly — very!” said old William, as they retired. “Never such a dreadful scene in the whole round o’ my carrel practice — never! And he a churchwarden!”
So can you help me out here, and at the double before the whole thing is over for another year... favourite Christmas literary extracts in comments. Just the book and the author will do, and I can go hunt for them once I know where to look.
And for anyone wondering...no I haven't knitted all those mice (yet) but if anyone wants to, the pattern is Dickensian Mice designed by Alan Dart - Sirdar 4132