Summer has arrived with a smirk and a wave. All of a sudden the overnight temperatures are well into the mid-twenties and above and the humidity is through the roof. It’s not our favourite time of the year. We tend to let the air circulate through the house but there are times in this sort of weather when we close all the doors and windows and turn on the air conditioner. It hasn’t happened this season so far – but I’ve been tempted, even if we just turn on the ‘dry’ cycle.
Despite the weather, the shops are full of Christmas cheer, in other words the trappings for a Northern Hemisphere European mid-winter festival. Since Australia was initially settled by mainly European immigrants, it stands to reason. But a mid-winter festival doesn’t make any kind of sense in Australia’s summer. Trust me, the last thing you feel like eating when it’s 38C (100F) is a roast turkey with stuffing, gravy, roast veg, followed by Christmas pudding and brandy sauce. At the supermarket, Bing Crosby croons “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” as you hang over the freezer cabinets to cool off. We settle for prawns on the barbie with salad, and maybe some ice cream. For us, Christmas is the start of the long summer holidays when floods, bushfires, and cyclones are all on the cards, and there’s wall-to-wall crap on the telly as all the usual shows take their holiday break.
But all is not lost. There’s the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and the Boxing Day test (cricket) to look forward to, and for some of us, the Boxing Day sales, which is our equivalent of the US Black Friday sales. Of course, we’ve had the Black Friday sales inflicted on us even though we don’t ‘do’ Thanksgiving. You wait, Americans, if we have to have your retail opportunities, surely you can have ours. Somebody in Walmart will come up with that, I’m sure.
Lots of people talk about Christmas movies to re-watch at Christmas time, one of them being Bruce Willis in Die Hard. I’ve never seen it but from what little I know, I don’t understand why it’s a Christmas movie. I’ll be re-reading the late, great Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather – and watching the movie, too. For those interested, the Hogfather is the Discworld’s equivalent of Father Christmas. Only, in TPs inimitable fashion, the whole fabric of what Yule is really all about is laid bare.
I love Pratchett. I love the way he delves deep into folklore and examines it to understand, if you will, the human condition. And this story, Hogfather, is very much about exactly that. What does fantasy mean? Why do we need fantasy? Why are stories like the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas important? On the Discworld, Pratchett’s fantasy universe that feels a lot like Earth, the Hogfather bears an uncanny resemblance to Father Christmas and Hogwatch could easily be mistaken for Christmas.
In Hogfather, somebody is trying to destroy the concept of stories because they’re not scientific and they’re not based on fact. When the Hogfather disappears, Death, the seven foot skeleton with a black robe, a scythe, and a sword, takes over the Hogwatch run on his behalf, while Death’s granddaughter goes off to find who’s doing this and stop them.
I hope you’re all having a great time gearing up for the end of month festivities. I’m still tweaking the latest book which is due for release on 18th December. If you’re into science fiction mystery/action/romance books take a look, won’t you? The Admiral and the Rebel.
Illustrations are via Midjourney.