Where’s the manger?

Last Christmas Eve I read about a family – mum, dad and a three-year old – forced to escape from Eritrea when the man was conscripted into the army, which is the equivalent of enslavement. (His best friend chose another escape and killed himself.) The family crossed the Sahara (others died on the way) and ‘lived like dogs’ in Libya. Eventually, they reached France where they found shelter in a derelict sports centre in Calais, no heat or toilets. The mother, pregnant, cooked potatoes over a fire of twigs. Her husband worried about finding a lorry for them in which to hide, on which to cling so to reach safety. Strikes me this story has parallels to a certain other famous family’s flight from danger.


A Christmas story

Seven nursery-age children dashed about the house. I had offered to look after my daughter’s friends so their parents could spend the afternoon doing Christmas shopping. What could go wrong? Apart from expected mayhem. To calm things down, Carol, my daughter, suggested they form a circle. I watched as they sat, legs crossed, eager for the next thing to happen, a story perhaps? ‘So,’ began Carol, ‘does anyone believe in Father Christmas? Put up your hand if you do.’ Harry, the youngest, raised his arm then let it fall.

This actually happened. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.


All washed-up

The Christmas iconography was photographed at the local launderette.