Just a quick one. I am so excited. It’s going to be so great, Christmas that is …. Isn’t it? Well, no, actually it will be shit as usual. I exaggerate for dramatic effect. I’m a writer, I’m allowed. I do find Christmas stressful though what with one thing and another, so writing this blog on Christmas Day does come into the ‘writing as therapy’ bracket. The news on the radio reports from one woman-  “I’m cold, can’t eat, no electricity” or from another, “We’re flooded” or “I’m waiting at Gatwick airport.” And I’m complaining about Christmas. Yes, I guess I am, there is no denying that this blog is in the ‘bah humbug’ category of Christmas writing but I will finish on a positive note – it’s the puppies first Christmas and, perhaps more to the point, our first Christmas with puppies. How will it be?

We certainly have had Christmases in the past that have indeed been not very good. Bizarre New Zealand Christmases in the sun (read Four go to New Zealand) with people, at that stage, we didn’t know at all. A bit awkward.

There was a doozy of a Christmas in Sydney. Our daughter and partner, at that time, who were living in Sydney, had promised us a BBQ on the beach on Christmas Day – classic. What a thing to anticipate was we left a cold and damp UK and flew into sunny OZ. Ah, it could have been a marvelous time. But, no. Problem was my daughter’s partner’s mother found out on Christmas Eve that her partner (pay attention now) had been having an affair with another woman. I can only say it put a bit of a dampener on the day and Christmas, as they say, was cancelled. Oh, how we laughed.

Then there was the one when we had Christmas lunch sitting on a bench in a freezing ‘gas station’ car park eating a pre-packed doughnut bought from same garage and ‘garage coffee’ to keep it company. We have the photos to prove it but I doubt we can find them now, so I’ve included a couple of relevant ones. We had decided how great it would be to spend Christmas on our own, as far away from aging parents and children as possible, so we booked into a lovely hotel in a little cowboy town called Durango, Colorado. Christmas Eve was just as we had dreamed, sitting in the Diamond Belle saloon strater2surrounded by men and women in cowboy hats while the snow fell gently down outside the window. The following day which, as you’ve guessed, was Christmas Day, was a disaster – we were so hung over that we missed breakfast altogether, never mind we said, we’ll go out and get some bunch. Wrong, as it turned out, because America which, as we know, never closes, was closed. Seems they take Christmas Day itself seriously. The hotel we strater1were staying in The Strater – lovely old hotel,  didn’t do lunch and only did dinner that day and a pretty desultory affair that was too, served by staff who, understandably, wanted to be at home with their families.

So even when we’ve tried very hard to make Christmas special it’s been pretty much shit. So it’s just easier to revert to my usual miserable bastard self with little or no expectations of Christmas. A quick digression, what do John Humphrys,  Nigel Slater, the Puppini Sisters (whoever they are) and I(or is it me?) have in common? Yes, you’ve guessed, we’re all working on Christmas Day. Me (or is it I?)on this blog, and them on Woman’s Hour. I heard this piece of information while driving down to see my mother yesterday so we didn’t have to go today. Yes, possibly I am a git but she doesn’t want to come to us so we take her Christmas lunch to her. So we went yesterday, but I digress again. So we driving down the M1 listening to Woman’s Hour and bloody awful it was too – some smug psychotherapist whining on about women who didn’t have children at Christmas and some incredibly dull reports from people calling in about their special Christmas tradition that weren’t special at all. I turned it off after the umpteenth caller describing their Christmas games. Humbug, I thought. But not before I heard who would be working on the morrow.

There was a time when I would have measured our popularity by the number of Christmas cards we received.  But not today. I opened my email, yes, I know I shouldn’t be checking my emails on Christmas day, but I did before the dogs arrived on our bed. There were 13 spam comments on this blog (I’ve had probably 10 more since then). According to the stats I’ve had 165 in total in the last three months. I posted my latest ghost story on Friday and I’ve had about 50 or so spam comments since. God it’s great to be so popular. From a website about blog spam : The more popular your blog becomes, the more spam it is likely to get. It also admits : there is nothing more frustrating than having to spend a lot of time moderating your comments to determine which ones are spam and which ones are legit.

So, on that basis, I am popular. It’s not true of course, I’ve selectively chosen a message to support my view of myself. Reality is elsewhere. I am moving into a world of Akismet and G.A.S.P. What a world I’ve unwittingly entered. Another blog advises on comments that contain content that is related to your website but that look to be like spam? I get a lot of these and, rather than delete them outright, I strip the URL and go through and clean up the content (spelling, grammar and relevance to the post) in ways that make it more Google friendly. WordPress allows you to do all this and I do it because I figure that more comments on a post helps with SEO. Do you think this is worth the effort? I think I know what they mean, I think.

Or the irony of the spammer spamming the anti spam site, as follows : page bet365 sniper is system to win 90% financial bets on Bet365.com. Not surprising then that another poster (obviously incoherent with anger) says : Blog spamming is the most cause of tension for a blogger. Most of the blog commenter, especially the seo man are having this. They don’t know that they are spamming. And as a blogger, it’s really a problem, that’s I face. And your tips will be helpful for me to prevent spamming on my blog. Thanks for sharing this.

I can’t top this, so all I will say is that these Christmas dogs on bedmessages, otherwise known as spam on my blog, merely confirms my view that Christmas is shit but not really. I’ll finish with a nice photo of the puppies on our bed (the bed I just made). They’re a bit blurred but then they were very excited it being Christmas and of course for them Christmas isn’t shit at all. Will it be for me? I’ll keep you informed about my first retirement Christmas.

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