Jean has three young children, including one born this year, so you would have thought she would have enough to do, preparing for Santa on Christmas Eve. Yet she spent the early hours of Christmas morning acting as midwife to one of our Saddleback sows. The farrowing bays are in the old stable, so she had the perfect venue for a Christmas birth. Eight piglets were born, all in perfect health, the last at 3am, just in time for Santa if not for the Three Wise Men.
The Slow Life perfect Christmas would include the Christmas Eve service at Cartmel Priory, which can be enjoyed even by a gnarled old non-believer like me. You have to get there early to secure a place, a situation summed up perfectly by Wendy Cope in her lovely new poem:
CATHEDRAL CAROL SERVICE
Those of us who are not important enough
To have places reserved for us
And who turned up too late to get a seat at all,
Stand in the nave aisles, or perch on stone ledges.
We shiver in the draught from the west door.
We cannot see the choir, the altar or the candles.
We can barely see the words on our service sheets.
But we can hear the music. And we can sing
For the baby whose parents were not important enough
To have a place reserved for them,
And who turned up too late to get a room at all.