Sunday, December 19, 2010


For one thing there were four of us. Five including the dog.

For another we couldn’t find any camels.

We tried yellow pages, we tried Mr google, and we even tried those scrubby postcards you sometimes see in newsagents windows. Tess, being an alternative type, went to look in Real Foods. She thought that might be the place because hiring a camel would be ecological.

We found cars for hire, lorries for hire, vans for hire (sometimes with a man attached), motorised tricycles and skate boards for hire. But no camels. Not for love or money.

Mr Google told me how many stomachs the various models had, and how much water they could drink, and whether one hump was better than two (depending on the desert) and we might have got into a discussion about that only Phyllis said one she didn’t think the plan was to go anywhere near a desert, her being allergic to sand, and two there was no point worrying about one hump or two when there were no camels to be had of any kind at all.

Except possibly in Timbuktu.

Which was a bit beside the point, May said, and besides what was the point of having bus passes if we didn’t use them and Phyllis said that was all very well but where we were supposed to be going? Ethel, being biblically inclined, said it was easy, the book said follow the star. Which star said Phyllis and Ethel said the one from the east. I said, but there aren’t any stars (it being daylight), they must have just travelled by night then.

They had to said Phyllis, them being in the East. It’s hot in the East, she added and was just about to tell us about her holiday in Jordan and how she got sunburn in a very embarrassing place when May said so we’ll just get the 26 bus then.

But how do we follow the star said Ethel, and how will we know which one said May and just said the bus arrived and it had a star on the side advertising the panto.

So we all got on, and Phyllis grumblng a bit because she knew we were all going to Portobello, we always went to Portobello, and it was selfish of us, her being allergic to sand, but the dog was happy.

When we got there we went to the machines, and I won 69 p on the penny slides and the dog ran about barking and we went off and had chips and red wine, it being wednesday. and started to wonder about myrrh.

Gold we could understand, and Phyllis had seen a programme about frankincense on the discovery channel, but not myrrh.

We were having a nice time, we were, a nice time, it was just like any other nice time and weren’t we ever going to find something a wee bit different. And wasn’t that what they were about, the wise men, i was thinking, when I got a text come in and it was my daughter, and she said

“It’s started”.

So off I went to the Royal and i got lost on the way in, i was that agitated, but once I found my way there I knew what to do, and she’s a good girl, sensible and brave, and her poor man so very concerned, but it was fine really, and sooner than you can think there she was.

A baby girl.

My first grand-daughter.

And we know it’s not so wise these days, with everything so uncertain, but I’ll help with her and there’s no harm in bringing a wee bit more love into the world.

And Phyllis had knitted her a scarf, and May brought bootees, and Ethel brought a story book and the dog wagged its tail, and there was a bright star over everything.

So we didn’t need the camels after all.


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