Just occasionally, I feel the need to cast off my snake-skin of cynicism and enter the world of a childhood that possibly never existed, and certainly doesn’t seem to now. It is a deep, deep need to revisit the worlds of the Famous Five and the Secret Seven, the mythical land of Narnia, or the outdoor world of Swallows and Amazons.
Here, I am in short trousers again, with a catapult in my back pocket, and my other pockets stuffed with the survival kit of boyhood – the whistle, the magnifying glass, the string, the pocket knife, the rubber bands and the jam sandwiches.
This Christmas, we have laid out a winter mountain scene and a model railway. The table and surroundings are draped with white sheets, the houses are lit, there are strange things that have come down from the high alpine passes to brood near the houses and trees. They fire and disturb the imagination in equal measure.
It is a pagan Christmas of snow and jewels, warm fires inside and monsters out.
Even when I was a child, this was a lost worldof central European fairy tales, but now it seems an anchor of simplicity and hope, where childreand adults wear mufflers and walk hand in hand, smiling.
May your Christmas bring you simple joys that will nourish you till Spring.