The photos at the top of this blog are of the first two Christmas stamps ever released in Britain.
I’ve got both of them in my trusty Pelham Junior Stamp Album, which was given to me by my Nanna when I was 11.
One of the stamps (guess which one) depicts Good King Wenceslas and was drawn by a six-year-old called Tasveer Shemza.
It’s up there because I’ve had a few emails (OK, two) asking if I can re-print the Good King Wenceslas column I wrote back in 2008 for the West Weekend magazine.
I wrote this column after I’d been Christmas shopping at Myer in late November.
I’d been trapped on the escalator between two little kids (one covered in snot, the other playing with his willy), their Mum and Dad (who were carrying several hundred shopping bags) and three teenage boys (who were almost catatonic from looking up the bum of a girl in very short shorts who was further up the escalator).
When I got home I said to your Grandpa, “I bet good old King Wenceslas never had to go through this sort of thing.”
Then I thought, well maybe he did.
The column’s reprinted with the permission of The West Australian newspaper.
If you’d like to hear the original Christmas carol, click here.
Good King Wenceslas Goes Christmas Shopping
Good King Wenceslas went out, buying gifts for Stephen.
Five clicks past the roundabout, through the traffic weavin’.
Brightly shone the moon that night, on a trail bike dealer,
When a salesman came in sight, pushing a two whee-ee-ler.
Hither, salesman, stand by me, wrap that bike up quick smart.
On my way I soon must be, there’s a sale at K-mart.
Ten per cent off DVDs, half-price socks and sandals,
Random specials on CDs, books and scented ca-an-dles.
Through the mall the King set out, wrestling with his trolley.
Mums and Dads were all about, none of them looked jolly.
Perry Como filled the air, singing songs of snowmen.
Hyped-up kids were everywhere, never a good o-o-men.
First a turkey, plump and good, went in Wence’s trolley,
Followed by a Christmas pud, and some plastic holly.
Wrapping paper, Toblerone, gift tags shaped like Santa,
Serviettes in neutral tones, Pringles, nuts and Fa-an-ta.
Bring me Bundy, bring me wine, bring Bacardi Breezer.
Bring me lager from the Rhine, put it all on Visa.
Bring Jim Beam for Uncle Stan, that should stop him whingeing.
Plus lite beer for young Leanne, we don’t want her bi-inge-ing.
Good King Wenceslas went home, absolutely knackered.
In his castle’s stately dome, he was Christmas crackered.
So, folks, don’t yourselves delude, make sure you remember.
Next time you buy gifts and food, do it in Sep-te-em-ber.
I like to think that when Good King Wenceslas finally got home, Good Queen Wenceslas was waiting with a nice glass of whiskey and some shortbread biscuits in the shape of Christmas trees.
I make these every year in all sorts of Christmassy shapes and everyone loves them.
It’s the same recipe I used for the Bum Biscuits I blogged about back in March.
Click here and you’ll find it.
This is an old and very easy recipe for shortbread-style biscuits that was written on the back of an envelope by one of the mothers at your Mum’s playgroup back in 1984.
It was then copied into an exercise book by me.
This exercise book has “Recipes” written on the front cover and is falling apart at the seams.
It’s covered in 30-year-old food stains, most of which are the colour of wee, and is unlikely to be treasured by you, or anyone else for that matter, in years to come.
When you come across it in the back of Nanna’s cupboard after Nanna has gone to the big kitchen in the sky, you’ll probably want to remove it with a pair of kitchen tongs and drop it in the bin.
An Etsy vintage moment it isn’t.
But the biscuits are delicious.
In the pantry I have a big jar filled with different cookie cutters and can attest that this past Christmas you loved the biscuits shaped like angels, stars and snowmen.
I’m sure that very soon you’ll feel the same way about bums.
You’ll see in the photo that sometimes Nanna’s bums are a bit lumpy.
But that’s just art imitating life, so don’t worry if it happens to you too.
Using the writing icing is the hardest part of this recipe.
Nanna never got past a C+ in Art, and when you look at the photo you can see why.
I remember Mr Rayment, bastard that he was, telling me that my sunset looked like a haemorrhage.
I was only 10 and didn’t even know what a haemorrhage was.
I should imagine that Mr Rayment is dead by now.
We can only hope.
Makes 20-30 depending on the size of your cookie cutter
50g caster sugar
150g plain flour
heart-shaped cookie cutter
box of Writing Icing (from supermarkets)
Preheat the oven to 170C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
Cream together the butter and sugar with a hand mixer. You can use a wooden spoon but it takes forever.
When it’s light and creamy, gradually mix in the flour, then knead it into a smooth ball with your hands.
Roll the dough out thinly on a benchtop dusted with flour.
Cut out heart shapes then slice off the pointy ends so they look like bums.
Keep gathering up the leftover dough and rolling it out so you can get as many biscuits as possible.
Put them on the baking tray and bake for about 10 minutes, or until they are a pale golden colour.
Once they’re cool, draw on some undies with the writing icing.
If you’re making ordinary, un-iced biscuits, sprinkle them with sugar as soon as they come out of the oven.