[Rector]

Christmas VI

 

A large lump of stuffing seemed to come out of the cushion all by itself. Little fingers love stuffing, in much the same way as they like to peel veneer off furniture. I had been sitting on my grandmother's chair. It resided on the front verandah of her holiday home in a little village by the sea called Sussex Inlet. A wonderful chair it was too. You could actually put your feet into the holes and surround them with white fluffy cotton. I think the cat had made the holes, anyhow, it was a chair of unlimited comfort.

Tom Sawyer was the book I was reading. I think it was the first book I ever read. Every now and then I would look up from my reading to inspect the action on the inlet. Beyond the spike grass I could see the boats putting up and down. My grandfather's boat used to be the fastest on the river, or so he claimed. It was powered by a twin cylinder Chapman, but by then it had seen better days. From my seat I could just see its blue half cabin above the spike grass. A boat of wondrous power, always smelling of bait and seaweed. The day passed slowly as Tom continued to get himself into unbelievable trouble.

It was my understanding that the piano was to be tied on the back of a truck. You see it was Christmas Eve. I had spent all day reading and now I was going to help my grandmother with the Progress Association's candles by candlelight. I am not sure how they got the piano up on the truck or what damage it suffered as we bounced around on the dirt roads of the Inlet. Actually, I think the piano was past it anyway. I was on the back of the second truck. That was an advantage for I wasn't too close to my grandmother and her friends whose voices were far too shrill for my sensitive young ears. I was though, quite fascinated by the extreme warbles that some of the more elderly ladies could produce. I surmised that this had taken a lifetime of training to perfect. The second truckload was much less enthusiastic. They seemed to regard the singing as but a prelude to greater things.

We ended up at the camping area at el-Alamein. This is were we gained our largest crowd of appreciative onlookers. My sense of importance increased greatly.

The singing was soon done, a bonfire lit, and the partying began. My grandfather had brought some of his homemade brew. Large quart bottles with sprung loaded rubber sealed stoppers. It always fascinated me the way he used to lose half of the contents when he broke the seal.

The fire burned down and the ambers cooled and we headed for home. Songs about a baby long ago. A mystery. The stars were bright, the night was dark and there was no room in the Inn.