Christmas Lights

As he gets ready for another delightful dollop of his Christmas No.1 Singalong in Holborn, Rainer Hersch reminisces about another festival ritual.  It’s bonkers, of course – well, it’s Rainer, what do you expect? – but as traditional as brandy butter and mince pies…

There is a Christmas tradition in our house: fairy lights… 

No, I am not one of those crazies who have a techno-Nutcracker synchronised spectacular dangling from every windowsill: life-sized illuminated reindeer on the roof; giant Santa, snowman and sleighs  round the chimney.  Ours are modest – 200-odd, battery-powered lights, purchased from the local hardware store.  But we buy them every December and arrange them in the Bush Forsythia at the front of the house. It’s not exactly the Blackpool Illuminations but they look [rural American accent] “kinda purdy”. 

Christmas House

Now, for a brief period, I had a bonsai tree.  Someone gave it to me as a Christmas present and, despite my best efforts, in about two months  it was dead as a dodo: snuffed out by my overwatering it, under-watering it, looking at it a bit too sternly, who knows?  I actually think it started dying from the moment I took possession.  But during that period, I read that you can ‘wire’ bonsai trees in order to maintain their shape.  You can even buy bonsai trees that are all wire and no tree – it’s a thing in Japan, I understand.

Christmas Trees

I mention this because I think we have now got a ‘wired’ Bush Forsythia.  Every year the lights get wrapped around its branches and stay there because I can’t be bothered to untangle them from the foliage.  And every year Mrs Hersch (my wife) at some point prunes the Forsythia, accidentally cutting the wires, rendering them useless.  Must be about ten years-worth of wiring by now.  

The Bush Forsythia doesn’t seem to mind.  In fact it has been getting steadily bigger, despite Mrs Hersch’s attempts to restrain it.  And that is the source of my concern.  It is now so impressive, I think there is a pretty good chance that one day it will get struck by lightning.  And if it does all that wire will surely crackle and spit and zap it to its core, leaving nothing but smouldering twigs.  But not before, to the consternation of anyone who is happens to be watching, about 2,000 fairy lights momentarily spark into life in one final blaze of multicoloured Christmas glory.

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