The Corner

Christmas Debriefing

Some pluses, some minuses. Leaving aside the general expected worldly joys

(family, food, gifts, goodwill) and disappointments (no snow, was using

wrong connect code for my 3 hrs of calls to England & shall now face $$$$$

in phone charges), the following are noteworthy:

Plus: The Queen’s Christmas broadcast. You can listen to it here

(the sound clip is only 4m 12s).

Dear old Betty has this down to an art: plain, concise, grammatical, and

sincere. Good Lord, please send us a politician who can speak as well &

wisely as this. This year she broadcast from the barracks of the

Household Cavalry at Windsor, and gave over much of her speech to praising

the armed forces, expressing heartfelt “respect and admiration for their

steadfast loyalty to each other and to the nation.” Then she speaks of

teamwork, leading off with the observation that Christ chose 12 disciples to

help him in his ministry. (He Majesty is, by all the reports I have ever

seen, a very devout person.) That leads through to a fine old prayer:

“Teach us, good Lord, to serve Thee as Thou deservest: to give and not to

count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek

for rest, to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that

we do Thy will.” While this fine woman is on the throne, something of old

England — that great nation of Christian warrior gentlemen — is still

alive.

More plus: My bottle of Tokaji Furmint Hungarian wine. EXCELLENT! Talpra

Magyar! And, of course, Boldog uj evet!

Minus: Sponge Bob’s Christmas Special. A let-down, by common agreement

among the Chestnut Street critics circle. Too much of that lame pirate and

his stupid parrot, Squidward (whom the kids, for reasons I cannot fathom,

identify with me) unacceptably out of character. And having gone to the

trouble of inspiring Squidward’s warm, human side (which, on the whole, we’d

all prefer he not display anyway, even at Christmas), Santa might at least

have filled his house with goodies after everything was given away. Perhaps

the scriptwriters were trying to get across the message of that prayer: “to

give and not to count the cost,” etc. If so, I much prefer Betty’s

presentation.

Grinches of the year: Radica toy company and their accomplices in crime at

KBtoys.com, who shipped me a “Play TV Boxing” game that DOESN’T WORK.

Thanks a lot for disappointing a little boy at Christmas, guys. Not only

does the right glove NOT WORK, you can’t even close the confounded battery

compartment without resorting to scotch tape. You should all be in jail.