Below is a sample of my work in progress, please be kind. It hasn’t seen an editor.
Yuletide, a magical event full of miracles that temporarily wash-away Paul’s hardships in it’s yearly ebb and flow. Christmas gifts, his reward for saying his prayers every night. So significant to him that he measures the passing of his childhood from one festive season to the next. Paul absolutely loathes boxing day. To the disappointed child, that still didn’t receive an etch-a-sketch, counting the days till next Christmas seems like the equivalent of waiting two lifetimes. Presently that wait is almost over, plus the fee to attend this year’s school party has been waived and Paul lines up between Stuart and Bobby eager to enter the school dining hall. Under instruction to remain calm and quiet the class troop along in single file.
Stretching the width of the hall, three rows of trestle tables, one for each class has been laid out with coloured napkins and Christmas crackers, paper plates and plastic glasses. Interspersed all the way along the table’s centre, resembling large coloured lightbulbs, glass jugs of orange squash and lemon cordial further brighten the merry scene. It is a weak façade this calm. Hushed whispers soon bubble into boisterous babble about cake. Paul’s stomach groans and his mouth waters at the very thought of it. Greedy eyes bulge in search of delights not yet placed on the tables. Paul can hardly contain himself. Breaking ranks some children surge forward and a melee to secure places next to specific friends ensues. Bobby, Stuart and Paul sit alongside one another.
Delivering their array of delectable delights, the remaining surface of the table is soon covered. A parade of jolly dinner-ladies, festively bedecked with tinsel bowers and themed aprons, convey plate after plate of party foods. Mini-sausages skewered on cocktail-sticks in one hand and chunks of pineapple with cheese in the other. Bowls of salted crisps and trays of sausage rolls. The flow continues. They proceed to lay down various platters of sandwiches, egg and cress, meat paste, boiled ham and cheddar cheese. The ravenous kids begin to fidget, Paul more than most. Lastly, but by no means least the cupcakes arrive. Sponge fancies in paper cases decorated with ivory icing and multicoloured sprinkles, diamond sugared jellies and chocolate drop smarties. Barring the watercress and potato crisps there’s not a vegetable in sight.
With napkins spread across on their knees Bobby, Stuart and Paul, as well as a few others, on the advice of older siblings, swipe more than they can possibly eat. Concealing their hoard on laps beneath the table. Some plates are emptied before grace has been said and at the furthest end of the table Martin Murphy, is loudly chastised for being a greedy selfish child. This provokes a teetering mass of crumbling cakes to be returned in haste. Prayers are recited by the newly ordained Canon Westward from St. Jude’s church and following an enthusiastic Amen, crackers are pulled, tissue-paper hats rustle and rip, and the feasting begins. Paul furtively reloads his napkin with goodies to take home. As time progresses he scoffs a few sandwiches, a good portion of crisps and lots and lots of cakes. He also polishes off two bowls of lime jelly. Bloated and slightly nauseous, Christmas for Paul has most definitely begun.