Important Messages, such as Service Disruption and Opening Times.

Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM UK time. We will try to give assistance to those people not living in the UK outside of those hours if possible.

30 December 2012

December 30.

Hi everyone.

Wow! Just wow and wow! What a Christmas! I can honestly say it was the best I have ever ever had! The food, the drinks, the presents, the company, the atmosphere, everything was just so perfect. I really think I am the luckiest lep in the whole wide world to live and work where I do and to have been able to enjoy such a lovely Christmas here at the Lair. I will tell you all about it.

I awoke on Christmas eve to my usual little pink scroll. Of course, it being Christmas in the human world means nothing to them at Shana-Sherin. You do not get any holidays there except a day’s holiday at Saint Patrick where the whole school is allowed to play games on the playing field and there is a nice tea. There is a half holiday on Saturday afternoons and a whole day on Sunday when you write your home letters and play or rest indoors quietly, but the rest of the time it is work, work, work! Anyway, Christmas eve or no, there was my letter from Babsy and I opened it eagerly to see what she said.

“Dear Uncle Bert.”

“I hope you are in good health and that the helping hand is serving you well. I am in good health and have received a good report this week.”

“Uncle I really hate that white rolly outy stuff what you have to spread over the fruity cake them humans have this time of year. I did the cake ok, easy peasy, all you got to do is sling all the stuff in a bowl, mix and bake it. But then you has to roll this horrible white stuff out and cover the cake with it and what’s the point? We has to cut an measure it, then put it on so it’s all flat and covers the cake perfect. What a swiz! Leanna’s looked like a lumpy mattress an she got a mark, what a joke! Then we made some more stuff with this weird kind of sugar an the wite part of an egg an slopped that on top, Madam Prim says we has to make it look like snow. What the zlank’s that, Uncle? An what’s the point of it anyway, they eats the zlenky cake doesn’t they? Humans is mad!”

“May the sun shine on you always and I hope you has a nice what you call it, christmas. Tell all about it an what it’s for!”

“Love Babsy.”

Wow! So they’re teaching Babsy to bake a Christmas cake this early. I had to wait till I was in my third year before I got to do one, and a right mess I made of it too! Stil I have it down to a fine art now, thank goodness. I do wish L liked it. She likes my mince pies though, can’t get enough of them! Anyway, I am digressing. I wrote back to Babsy, explaining as wel as I could in the limited space I had, and then got on with the day, and a busy one it was too.

In the morning, L’s parents came over to see us. We all had a lovely visit. It really is fantastic not to have to hide in the closet when they come now. They even invited me to come to their house with Brian and L for the party with the rest of the family on boxing day. I was absolutely over the moon about this! It seems my life is just getting better and better these days.

After L’s parents had gone, L and I got busy. Brian was going to be on air in the evening, so L and I had decided we were going to put on a kind of running buffet during the day that we could all nibble on whenever we wanted to. Of course, it would have been much easier if L had just left me to make and arrange all the food, but it’s Christmas and L particularly wanted to feel involved and to do things in the kitchen, so she and I did it all between us. It actually worked out fine because L was able to do the fiddly things like putting things on to sticks, and I did more hands on things. L did not have to stand too long which is better for her bones, we did not bump into each other in the kitchen, and it all worked out fine.

Soon the table was groaning with food and we all filled our plates and glasses. The rest of that day was very cosy indeed. We listened to music, Brian did his show, then we just left the radio on to hear the rest of the day’s programming. We all went to bed looking forward to Christmas day.

I fell asleep, as I normally do, to the sound of soft sea waves coming out of my phone, and it only seemed as though I had been asleep for a minute when someone was kissing my ears and asking if I was going to sleep all day. I opened bleary eyes to find Tealy leaning over me, looking fresh, beautiful and Christmassy in a red coat with a white fur collar and long black boots.

Once I was awake, she shed the coat to reveal another of my favourite sweater dresses, deep red, of course, gold bangles and red and gold scrunchies in her hair. She seemed rather nervous as she sat down next to me on the bed. I wondered why she had come so early, it was only just six. She told me she wanted to spend the first part of the day alone with me, and there was a reason.

I was puzzled, and wondered what could be up, and then she explained.

“You know when we kissed the Wishstone? Well, I remembered then that elves too have a way of pledging themselves to each other and asking for a love that lasts lifelong. It isn’t legal and official like a marriage would be, it’s more like a promise. It’s a magical binding of two souls. In Elfhold it’s hardly ever done, nowadays people are a lot less romantic and a lot more cynical, but I managed to find someone who can still make the WishSilver for the tokens, so I asked him to make them for us.”

I was touched and amazed. I asked what WishSilver was and Tealy pulled a small white leather box from her handbag and opened it. Inside, resting on black velvet, were two tiny, wafer thin tokens made of a metal of such a bright white it almost hurt your eyes to look at it. The tokens were no more than a quarter inch long, if that, but very detailed, they were a leaf and a star.

Questions seemd to fill my head. Why a leaf and a star? What were we supposed to do with these tokens, carry them about? They were so tiny, so wafer thin, might they not get broken or lost? Tealy put my fears to rest.

“We don’t carry them, Bert,” she said, squeezing my hand, “we wear them. I wear the star. Leprechauns take their strongest magic from the stars, they’re guarded and guided by them. If I wear the star I’ll always have a little bit of the best of you with me. You wear the leaf. Most elves try to forget it but they originated in the oldest forests. Their magic is wild magic, rooted in the earth before humans ever trod on it. It’s deep, silent and very strong. If you wear the leaf You’ll always have a little of my good magic with you.”

I was big-eyed with awe, but I had one more question. How were we supposed to wear them? I saw no way to hang them, no clasp or clip. Tealy started to look worried.

“You wear it on your wrist, Zaea,” she told me. “just in the place where your pulse beats. It’s not supposed to be noticeable. Only we know they’re there.” She suddenly turned to me with tears sparkling in her big eyes. “Bert, you don’t have to do this. perhaps it’s asking too much, I have other presents for you by the tree, I just thought…”

I put my arms around her and touched my nose to hers.

“Hush,” I said gently. “I think it’s the best Christmas present I could ever have, now, show me how to put it on.”

Tealy took the leaf, turned my left wrist over, found the place where my pulse beat and pressed the leaf there. At once I felt a tingling sensation, the air grew bright and luminous and I could feel a gentle power in the room. Tealy looked straight into my eyes and spoke in a quiet steady voice.

“I give you, Bertalius, the emblem of my people. I give you the protection of our magic, and in the presence of the helping hand I give my heart into your keeping.”

There was a gust of wind, carrying the sound of tinkling bells and the smell of piney woods and of all the flowers in Elfhold. I felt a tingling pain that did not really hurt and looked down at my wrist. The leaf was bonded on to my skin as though it had always been a part of it, a tiny, shining symbol of my Tealy’s love and protection.

“Now you, darling,” said Tealy, “Take the star and press it on to my pulse point. Just here. Now, say exactly what I said.”

With a heart full of joy and wonder I picked up the cool, smooth star, turned over Tealy’s left wrist and felt for the place where her pulse beat. Then I made sure the star was straight before I pressed it on. My fingers tingled and once more the air grew luminous and that gentle power filled the room. I looked up into those huge aqua eyes. How funny, I fleetingly thought, I used to be almost scared to meet them. Now they were all I wanted in the world. I could feel the old familiar mist gathering behind my own eyes and a lump forming in my throat. I fought down my rising emotion, gathered my wits and spoke with my heart on my lips.

“I give you, Tealy, the emblem of my people. I give you the protection of our magic, and in the presence of the helping hand I give my heart into your keeping.”

Once more the magical wind with its lovely smell and sound blew through the room. I felt Tealy flinch slightly and we both looked down at her wrist. The bright white star shone there, guarding and guiding her forever.

By that time it was getting late, I could hear movement so it was time to get on with the day. By the time Brian and L came into the den we had coffee bubbling and breakfast all ready for them and ourselves, and we were all hungry!

We did not have a huge breakfast, just hot muffins and coffee, because of the big dinner we were going to have later, but we all ate it sitting companionably around the table and enjoyed it very much. Tealy and I told Brian and L about the WishSilber tokens and showed them and they were pleased for us. Once we had everything cleared away it was time for the presents!

Oh! The presents! If I live to be five hundred I don’t think I can ever thank Brian, L and Tealy enough for such fantastic presents. Ok, let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start, so I have been told. Giggling here! I will save the big, huge one till last, the one I had been most intrigued about. From Brian I got a cool kind of portable speaker which can attach to iPhone, computer or MP3 player and which sounds really cool, I also had some DVDs and an iTunes gift card from him. From L I had some fantastic new clothes, she knows my love affair with my wardrobe and she always finds me the coolest things to wear. I had combats, jeans, sweatshirts, polo shirts, and a new coat and cap too! Oh, and new trainers! Now all I need is a bigger wardrobe! Haha!

Tealy bought me a brilliant mood lighting cube, I really love interesting and relaxing lighting, this thing is a thirty minute light show if you want it to be, of course it loops around, or you can change its settings to do all kinds of things. I just love it! I got clothes from Tealy as well, new pajamas and a new dressing gown and slippers, really nice ones. Apparently Tealy arranged all my presents with L while she was staying here, goodness knows how she paid for them, I don’t like to ask.

Anyway, the biggest, the best, the most amazing present was bought for me by Brian and L. I now have a brand new IPad. Poor dear Nia has served me well, but she really is beginning to get slow from constant use. Now I have a gorgeous new IPad 4, so I can do everything with her, even write my journal as I’ve found a nice word processing app. So thanks for the sterling work you did, Nia, you go to welcome retirement. Hello, gorgeous Imogen iPad!

Well, once I’d stopped exclaiming over my presents I took time to look around and see how everyone else was liking theirs from me. I had bought Brian a very nice stereo Bluetooth headset which I thought he might find useful with his iPad as well as some of his favourite dark chocolates, some really nice marzipan fruit as I know he has a very soft spot for marzipan and some very good red wine. Brian seemed to really like all his presents from me and I was really pleased.

AS for L, I knew she was getting an iPod Nano for Christmas, so I got her a case, the kind of glamorous, diamante studded one she likes in hot pink. I also went on her favourite site and bought her some new clothes for her reborn baby doll Leah, and I bought her white chocolates from her favourite place. She was really pleased with everything and nearly hugged me in half! This was my first time buying any presents for L, so I was very glad indeed that I had got them right! Mind you, Brian had given me some advice, but all the same I was glad it had turned out ok!

Tealy’s presents, as you may remember, had given me problems. In the end L had come up with a great idea. When she had been staying here, Tealy had loved watching antiques programs on TV, so we had gone for antique style things for Tealy’s Christmas presents. I had managed to find a beautiful silver-plated dressing-table set, a hairbrush, comb and mirror. They were absolutely lovely, all engraved with a tracery of flowers and leaves. I had also found, after much searching, a really beautiful silver and crystal perfume bottle. Oh, I shall never forget Tealy’s face as she unwrapped her things. It just seemed to light up as if stars were shining inside her and for at least half a minute she could not speak. Then she carefully put the things down in a safe place and just came to me and held me, looking at me as if she had never seen me before.

“What is it, Zaeahana,” I said, “Don’t you like your presents? I can send…”

She laid a finger on my lips.

“Bert, I’ve never been so happy before that it made me scared.” She spoke in almost a whisper. “I’m almost scared to breathe, scared to look away from you in case this is all a dream.”

“If it is, I’m dreaming too, Tealy. But it’s real.” I kissed her ears. “Now come on, let’s get busy and put our things away, I have a lot of work to do.”

And a lot of work it was to get the dinner all ready. I would not let Tealy help me, I wanted her to have a completely work free day. She was allowed to do one thing though, she set my nice new iPad up for me while I was busy in the kitchen. While I stuffed, basted, peeled, chopped, boiled and baked, she got Imogen up to scratch, asking Brian for help when she needed it. She put all my apps into neat folders, L helped her with this as she is a neat freak extrordinaire! Tealy also found me some other aps she thought would be useful including the word processing app which I am using at this very moment!

I kept things ticking over while Brian and L did their Christmas day show, and as soon as they came off air we all sat down to eat. Oh wow, what a dinner, it was pretty delicious, if I do say so myself. WE had roast turkey, stuffing, little sausages wrapped in bacon, roast and mashed potatoes, roast parsnips, sprouts and carrots with lots of rich gravy. I had made some Christmas puddings, little ones, but as L did not like Christmas pudding I had put them away for later and we all had a very light, moist chocolate brownie for dessert. We were pretty full afterwards, I can tell you!

As soon as Tealy and I had things in the kitchen all ship shape, clean and sparkling, we put on our coats. Tealy was about to perform the NoSeeMe spell when I produced her last Christmas present which L had helped me choose. It was a tall black Cosack style fur hat. It looked very chic on Tealy while totally covering her ears! Now we could both go out together and no one would ask too many questions.

Caerphilly Castle was alive with people, the mulled wine and roast chestnut stalls were doing a roaring trade and the band was playing Christmas carols. It was a clear, crisp night with a sparkling frost and a million stars were shining down on us as we found a sheltered spot out of the way and stood to listen to the carols and watch the fireworks.

As we stood there hand in hand, we could not help remembering the Christmas before. I had still been more or less completely out of it after having my bad accident and being in a coma for almost a week, but remembered how Tealy had brought me a stretchy cap to cover my battered and bandaged head when visitors came. She said how she hardly knew me but thought how special I must have been to have caused so many people so much anguish over my accident.

Thinking back, I said how strange it was that so much had changed in one little year. And it has, it really has! This time last year I thought life was basically ok, but I had lots of wishes that I thought would never come true. I was a completely different person then, I know I was. I think sometimes we all want the completely unobtainable. I have been so lucky. Wanting what I can never have could have caused so much pain, so much absolute grinding misery to so many people, but the Helping Hand protected me and the people I love most in the world. As I said to Tealy, I have everything I could ever want, and a lot more, and with the Hand’s help this coming year will be even better than the last one.

Tealy and I suddenly lifted our voices and sang along with the band. WE sang to the stars, to the helping hand, to anyone out there listening. Then we held each other tightly and watched the sky explode with a myriad shooting stars, brilliant sparkles and fountains of coloured light.

Then Tealy zapped back to Elfhold, and I went back to my home, back to my lovely comfy closet, and went to bed, thanking the Hand for so many blessings.

The last few days have been fairly uneventful so I will not dwell too much on them. I had a lovely time at the party held at L’s parents’ house. I met some more of L’s family there and was made a great fuss of. For the rest of the time I have been taking things very easy, having cosy times with my people, listening to good music, playing games, eating nice food, just spending a lovely holiday with them.

Soon the new year will start, and I hope it is a happy, healthy and prosperous one for all of us and all of you. I have decided to take a little break from this journal for the first couple of months of the year. January and February are a leprechaun’s lowest times. In the lep colony, nothing much at all happens, everyone holes up with as much food as they can and just tries to survive the cold of Winter. I do not have to do that of course, I go on as usual, but I am a lep and my body clock is a lep’s body clock. In January and February I always feel at my lowest, most tired and out of sorts. I am going to have as much as I can do to do my work and keep up with things here, so I would rather say there will be no more entries for a while than get hopelessly behind. I will be back at the beginning of March when everything begins to wake up again. By then the family will start to perk up and we will all be gearing up for the birth of Vee’s twins and the celebrating of Saint Patrick’s day.

Until then, thank you, as always, for reading my ramblings, have a wonderful new year and take good care of yourselves.

Oh, just one more thing. Before you pat a cute toddler’s head you might want to take a second look. I am not the only working leprechaun there is, you know. Is the cute little one wearing a cap or some kind of hat which might hide a pair of slightly pointy ears? If so, better move on, he or she is probably as old as you are, has done seventeen years hard training, several years working for the human pushing him or her and is really hating being in that baby seat! Supermarkets should really think about putting a cushion in there! Those seats are terribly uncomfortable, you are hearing it from one who knows! Still, if sitting in a babyseat from time to time means that I can be a working leprechaun, I would rather sit in that seat than sit anywhere else, even on a golden throne. I just love my job so much, and I hope I have managed to convey that much to you in this journal. See you again soon. Big smiles.

Back to Private Journal Index