"Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day. That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook's next door to each other, with a laundress's next door to that. That was the pudding. In half a minute Mrs Cratchit entered - flushed, but smiling proudly - with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quarter of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top."
Dickens virtually invented the christmas idyll as we know it, and with three more sleeps to go what could be lovelier than to listen to the mellow rotund tones of Pip Utton splendidly retelling the classic story of Scrooge's sentimental epiphany? A packed audience at the Merlin enjoyed mulled wine and mass contentment as Pip, costumed like the author himself, regaled us with Dicken's famous ghost story from a red vellum volume set in glittering candlelight.
So now with snow thick all around - Coldplay couldn't have got it more wrong could they?- the end of year countdown has begun:
X-factor and Strictly finals: tick.
Lord Sugar's apprentice picked: tick.
Anti-Cowell kick-back in the charts: tick. (You have to admire the Cage contender for audacity - and value for money at twice the length of Trashmen's wordy bird.)
Flyaway holiday airport chaos: tick.
Yes, we must be nearly there. Still waiting for war is over - a long wait, with turncoat liberal MPs voting now to keep the troops in Afghanistan.
So, merry Christmas and a happy new year. Let's make it a good one, without any fear.