Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Hunt for the Christmas Tree

To keep the festive spirit going strong into the new year (and Christmas Tree Death Day), Kate in the Countryside brings you a happy tale of Christmas Tree hunting in urban sprawl. 

BOF and I have been excited about acquiring our tree since last Christmas. Back then, pre-Pad, it seemed a little bold to acquire a festive shrub when we had nowhere to house it. So I spent my time wandering the snowy streets of London gazing jealously at window dressing to a soundtrack of James Blunt through frostbitten homeless ears.

This year all has changed. Firstly, no snow. Secondly, I am housed. Thirdly, I am in the process of becoming a grown up. Symptoms of this include (but are not limited to): negotiating rent with landlord; fixing internet so it no longer dies every time BOF and I youtube a song; wrapping presents in advance of Christmas day. And achieving The Christmas Tree before Christmas.
Friendly Giant
looked nothing like this

So, on the day allotted Tree Day, defying torrential rain, BOF and I met to hunt a Tree. This could not wait. Never mind that, post walk from work, I was already as drowned as a rat at swimming class. On the Titanic.

Rousing ourselves with carols, we scurried to Battersea Park to find (thanks Twitter) a charmingly ramshackle tree operation in the car park. Staffed by two men in kilts, one of whom was jumper-less and giant, the shop looked like an example of amateur entrepreneurship from a worthy Battersea resident. The tree chaperone was more rained on than I, this Friendly Giant, and looked positively gleeful. Only a true tree enthusiast could muster that much cheer in the face of such soggy adversity.

Poor BOF didn't know what he was getting himself into on the tree decision.

KITC: 'I want this one.'
Other Tree Man (OTM): 'That one is 52 pounds.'
KITC: 'What?? (teary) But I love it! And we can't afford that much. It's Christmas! How about … ten pounds?
OTM: This isn't really a bartering situation. We're a franchise.
BOF: Fifty-two pounds you say? Fine! Good! OK. Actually that is a lot why don't we find another tree? Maybe a shorter one? They might be cheaper you know.
KITC (lip wobbling): NO! I want this tree. It's the best tree by far. Can't you tell it's the best BOF?
BOF: We could get a littler one and put it on the table? Maybe?
OTM (gently - concerned I may be a child): OK how about I throw in some holly? And a stand?

Tree! Also Wellies. 
Finally everything was organised to our (my) satisfaction. A marginally smaller tree at a deeply superior price was purchased. And dead holly into the bargain! I was delighted. 

I carried the holly, BOF carried the tree. As we passed other soggy folk on the bridge I called 'Merry Christmas' to them all with levels of cheer that bordered on the hysterical. It was bloody brilliant. 

But, dear readers, next year I resolve to get the bigger one.

NB. It should be recorded that BOF carried the tree by himself all the way to the Pimlico Pad. From Battersea. Fan-mail should be directed to his agent (KITC in this instance) by postcard. Or in comment form below. Or Twitter (@kvlmason). Thanks.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

For Late Adopters

Late adopters of Kate in the Countryside have observed that - for the uninitiated - such an acronym-dense landscape can sometimes be tricky to navigate. 

It is for them, and for those whose knowledge of Kate in the Countryside is not as exhaustive as they might hope, that the crib sheet below came to pass. Diligent members of the readership would be advised to print out what follows and keep it in a handy place for reference. Perhaps an opportunity to familiarise oneself with laminating machine? 
Laminated items do keep better.
Just a suggestion
Kate in the Countryside began a year ago after the demise of my Carefree University Life at Cambridge. Returning from a month at the Edinburgh Festival, I found myself unemployed in The Countryside living with MD (Mother Dearest - of whom more later). The curious folk I found there proved an excellent source of solace and fascination. So the blog was born. When someone generously gave me a job months later, the blog travelled with me to London, where I found that the oddballs of Oundle were no stranger than those of Pimlico who now populate these pages.

KITC: Acronym of the name of This Blog. Also represents Kate the character at moments of dramatic importance.

Kate in the Countryside: name of This Blog. A misnomer (as is often observed) since I am no longer domiciled in The Countryside. Knowledge for the in-crowd, that. Like Magdalene being pronounced Maudlin. 

Pimlico: where Kate in the Countryside now lives with flatmate and co-star, BOF.

BOF: Belligerently Optimistic Flatmate. Formerly Belligerently Optimistic Future-Flatmate. This sobriquet refers to a sad time a year ago when we were both yet to be homed. But BOF's unflagging - if occasionally a little manic - optimism eventually secured us The Pad. A place with no graffitied doors and good-looking neighbours thrown in.

Pretty Neighbour (PN): Apple of BOF's eye. Attempts to seduce her / convince her to come over have as yet gone unrewarded. Though we did meet her once. Recently waking up to the fact that she may not be interested in boys. Bit galling, hence KITC's silence on the subject in recent months.

Spinning: one of London's gifts to the blog. I find myself being shouted and sworn at on a bike in a small room at the local gym with more regularity than I imagined possible. Run by...

The Shouter: Australian Spinning Trainer Man. He shouts. Suspect he may be in league with PG, who first introduced me to the local Pimlico hang outs and Spinning class.

PG: Pimlico Guru. Collaborator in Spinning sessions. Resident of Pimlico. Advisor in all things local. Word on the grapevine is that she may be leaving the gym. Updates impending.

Tactful Friend (TF): Non-Pimlico resident and regular facilitator of Nights Out. I have recently realised that such evenings always lead to encounters with London's Gits, for which this blog is very grateful.

Dogface: My dog. Interestingly, this is his real name.

Mother Dearest (MD): Mother of KITC. Teacher. Resident of Oundle. Recent adopter of Twitter. Follow her in real life (@msoundle) for the full metafictional KITC experience.

DM: Daddy Mason. Not to be confused with MD, DM lives in the Bahamas where he keeps swimming pigs. This may or may not be true.

Mysterious L: Most significant external contributor to KITC. True identity a mystery. Some say she exists only within the confines of the KITC world.