Ghostly message of Christmas presents

Dear Santa... Hello, it s John with my annual letter at this time of year telling you what I would like for… Oops, sorry dear readers, this is something I should be writing when I m not at work. But while we are on the subject of presents, the results of

Dear Santa... Hello, it's John with my annual letter at this time of year telling you what I would like for...

Oops, sorry dear readers, this is something I should be writing when I'm not at work.

But while we are on the subject of presents, the results of a couple of surveys caught my eye this week.

According to one of them, the most likely-to-get gift is shower gel (boring) followed by CDs and DVDs (depends what they are) and, in third place, underwear and pyjamas (yawn).


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The other poll revealed - if that is the right word - that the big turn-off for men was getting lurid-coloured, tacky novelty pants in their Christmas stocking.

Quite a few of those questioned said they would be offended if they were given that 1980s classic Old Spice aftershave (how times have changed) closely followed by car seat covers.

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Also on the don't-particularly-want list were slippers and penknives.

The favourite part of Christmas dinner was pigs in blankets (does anyone eat sausages wrapped in bacon at any time other than December 25 and 26?), various meats and roast potatoes.

The least favourite were those old favourites Brussels sprouts followed by Christmas pudding and Christmas cake.

The second least favourite part of Christmas was feeling like you have put on weight (is there any doubt after eating all that food?) following by washing up.

But after that miserable chore is completed, what better than to flop in front of the telly and watch a film.

The favourite is said to be The Snowman then Home Alone and, in joint third place, Scrooge and Miracle on 34th Street. Don't worry, they'll all be screened over the festive season, along with all the other "favourites" that TV programmers think we want to see year after year.

As I dutifully sit watching these offerings, amazed that I keep on putting myself though this but justifying it by reminding myself that it is Christmas after all, I sometimes wonder what would happen if I left the curtains open and the flickering light images escaped outside. Where would they end up?

I ask this after reading about something literally out of this world and quite, quite astonishing.

It concerned the solving of a mystery going back more than 400 years. It was in November 1572 when direct light from a supernova - an exploding star - swept past Earth, and helped change astronomical thinking.

But scientists had not been able to fully understand the nature of the stupendous event in the heavens until recently when they used telescopes in Hawaii and Spain to capture faint light echoes of the original explosion, reflected by interstellar dust.

What had been created four centuries ago by a cosmic flashbulb going off was still bouncing around this universe of ours.

It makes me feel like going out into the back garden and using a torch to send a message in Morse code skywards. Perhaps someone in a far away galaxy will see it after I'm long gone.

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