Good Tidings

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dear Maud,

This Christmas, I was reborn, when three youngsters came to stay.

The first was my six-year-old nephew, a sensitive, serious and silly boy, with whom I have a special bond (he being my first child, as it were). We wrestled, dabbled in the chilly water of two beaches, and staked everything on tomato plants.

The second was my three-year-old niece, a frank and fearless girl whose cleverness and charm wins her much favour. We two sorted shells, and lay on our bellies under beds; also, at her request, we were ‘silly’.

The third youngster was, in the words of my niece, a ‘baby ducklen’. That’s right, Maud, this is the story of a man and his duck.

His monicker is Dougal (or Nip Nip to the kids), and he is, in short, a good egg – the best! An orphan, the Nipster now knows parents two: my left foot and my right. He sleeps with his head under one inadequate wing, and peeps variously: a strident ‘Help!’ (I’m alone); a tripping ‘Yippee!’ (I’m eating); and a soft ‘This is the life!’ (I’m nestling).

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them… and they were sore afraid and the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy… and this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’

Well, not quite. For Dougal was found on a busy street.

My conclusion, Maud? That new life enlivens the old.

Peep, peep!

Yours etc.