Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas preparations

This has been a busy week. At the weekend we attended two carol services, one at Winchester Cathedral and one at Lansdowne Baptist Church. On Monday I finished off my Christmas shopping, then on Tuesday I visited my 90 year old mother to take up the Christmas presents for my family and in the evening I attended the Tenovus Christmas dinner.

Tenovus is a cancer charity founded in Wales in 1943. Ten business men decided to raise money as a medical charity after visiting a friend in hospital. They called themselves ten-of-us, hence Tenovus. As well as a research institute in Cardiff, in 1970 they built research labs in Southampton. It was here that I did most of my CLL research over the year and the idea for monoclonal antibody treatment of CLL began. Rituximab, Campath and all the other monoclonals had their genesis there. In later years we did the work that established IGVH mutations there and developed the idea of cancer vaccines. In 1978 I founded a local branch of Tenovus here and over the years we have raised over $5 million for cancer research. Most of this has come from legacies, of course, but we have organized an awful lot of coffee mornings, sales of work, raffles and auctions. This was the 31st Tenovus Christmas dinner. We were entertained, as usual, by the beautiful voices of the Bournemouth Gilbert and Sullivan singers, singing Christmas carols.

On Wednesday afternoon I spent all afternoon broadcasting on Hope FM, the local Christian Community Radio Channel. I was able to give my testimony, read a Christmas poem, tell a few jokes and send out a couple of thoughts for the day. The audience ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand. The DJ for the afternoon is a local pastor who is also a water engineer, and regularly takes gifts to Africa - mainly water purification plants, that cannot be converted into Presidential Mercedes by the ruling cleptocracy.

On Thursday I went out to buy our Christmas tree. Normally at this time of the year, since we are so near the New Forest, Christmas Trees are for sale in every pub car park at knock down prices. I bought one there last year, but it was so bereft of pine needles that I was teased that I had imported it from Chernobyl. This year almost everybody had sold out. I was forced to go to a garden center and paid five times what I paid last year. Mind you, it is a very fine tree, seven feet tall and thick with branches and very dark needles. However it does not perfume the house with pine the way that last year's did. In the afternoon we spent the time decorating it. The glass baubles that are so prominent, derive from glass candle holders from Martin Luther's day. They were there to prevent the rats climbing up and eating the tallow. No candles on our tree. The three sets of lights that flash and flicker have lasted for three Christmases now without failing. Some things get better. The Angel at the top of the tree must be 35 years old, and various odd decorations are mementos of our children's school life.

Yesterday evening I went out carol singing with the church. We gathered in the Square in the center of Bournemouth. There were loads of shoppers walking by and many stopped for a chocolate and a chat. I was quite hoarse after an hour. It was a very cold night; out exhaled breath inscribed surtitles for those who could not hear.

Today we went to Marks and Spencer's to buy Christmas cakes for our visitors next week. And that is us almost finished. We still have to buy and cook the turkey, but all the presents are bought and wrapped. The cards are hanging over the hearth. WE will have another carol service on Sunday when our daughter will arrive as our first visitor. Our second son will come on Christmas eve and our other daughter on Christmas day. In the week after Christmas my other son will come with his family to stay.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I envy you. Both of my parents are gone, and I have no other relatives.

I do have my wife and her two children. But we have dinner by ourselves, so the 'crowd' is very small.

My regret at not having children deepens this time of year. Their company would (hopefully) meant a lot for this cancer patient, who doesn't know if this will be his last Christmas.