He’s lived in four cities in three countries on two continents, but he doesn’t feel like he’s travelled very much. His life in each city was rather mundane and he didn’t get out much – tending to move his pen more than his body.
He still aspires to see much more of the world – probably when his wife becomes rich enough to let him retire from day jobs.
He would like to live like Ernest Hemmingway: periodically sending novel manuscripts to his publisher from various far-flung corners of the world, though he’s not sure the quality will be quite the same. Until then, he has contented himself with living like Robert Graves – in a pleasant part of Spain with a quiet life – and being able to do some things that Hemmingway did – trout fishing in Spain, game hunting in Africa, watching bullfights and running with the bulls, – and a few that he did not get to do – surfing, skydiving, bungee jumping, and getting erotic stories published.
I love Christmas.
The cover of One Night in Pamplona is red and white like Santa Claus, but it’s nothing to do with Christmas.
I love Christmas.
That doesn’t mean I’m the kind of guy who goes around from early November shopping (in fact, I’m as last-minute as you can get), or scheming, or wishing anyone a happy anything. I’m not waiting until December with baited breath so I can stick up the tree and decorate the house. In fact, for most of my adult life I’ve never bothered sticking up a Christmas tree.
When I was back home, living in my parent’s house, I was always the one who decorated the tree. Don’t ask me why, but I was the one considered best at it – it shows how bad the average was in my family if I was the one with the aesthetic sense. In reality, of course, I was just the one who did it, who didn’t complain or put it off, who had the patience to pull out all the metal twigs on the plastic tree we had (still have), and didn’t rip the shit out of the fairy lights when they didn’t turn on as planned, but sought out that broken one and fixed it with tinfoil. I shut up and put up. But I did enjoy it, I admit.
Yet when I left home, I never put up a tree in my own apartment until three years ago – and that’s never been an evergreen spruce, but a thin oak sapling or bough taken from the countryside, complete with brown leaves still clinging from autumn, which has just ended here when Christmas begins.
The reason wasn’t humbug or a lack of Christmas Sprit – as I said, I love Christmas. I always look forward to it, but I never bother getting really Christmassy until near the equinox, (which I also love). It’s a time to be celebrated when it actually comes around, not to be anticipated too much in advance.
All this is because of two things. One, is that I don’t live in my home country anymore, and two is my daytime job – I’m a teacher. So I am never in my own house come Christmas day – I’ve usually abandoned the houseplants (and for the last ten years got the cat minded) come equinox. A tree would be alone in the apartment. And so I sometimes still stick up the tree at home, or if not, I get to help take it down come Little Christmas (my mother rarely waits that long these days). The reason I don’t get excited until near to the date is because I am usually too busy to look up from my desk and piles of exams I’ve to correct before I can relax for the Christmas season. It hasn’t been too bad the last couple of years as we don’t give exams right at the end of the term, but it’s always hectic nonetheless, with pageants and stuff. It’s only when the staff Christmas lunch comes around that we teachers can relax and actually enjoy the season. But we can truly kick back and relax until at least after new years before getting the brain back in gear to start off January with a burst of energy. So there’s always plenty of time for enjoying Christmas when Christmas comes, and the holiday isn’t over after St. Stephen’s day (Boxing day). When you’re home for Christmas, it’s still a holiday till it’s time to return to exile. But of course, I have a new home now, and we alternate our stays here and sometimes only go back to my family after Christmas, so there’s that to look forward to, and Little Christmas is a big thing here, so the twelve days of Christmas actually all count.
I love Christmas Day at home – that submitting to the laws of food and television – but I also love Christmas elsewhere. In Boston, the knowledge that snow would cover the ground almost certainly was exciting – although also nerve-wracking when a storm came in and threatened travelling. We nearly got snowed in during a plane transfer in Chicago one year, and I once turned up just in time for Christmas lunch after my flight was delayed three days and I ended up travelling overnight with Santa (a depressing affair, and I don’t recommend it).
Putting off the anticipation until Christmas Eve is no longer an option of course, now that there’s a kid in the house. Now we put up the tree and the crib in early December. And this time, we’re not going to the old sod for the season at all. We’ve another baby who’ll have just arrived, so he won’t have travel documents yet, and we’ll stay here, snug in our house in the country in the snow – or the sunshine; you can never predict things here. And we will have our Christmas tree lights on over New Years and into Epiphany. And all the while, if they baby lets me, I’ll tap away at my next book.
Although One Night in Pamplona, like my other erotic novella One Night in Madrid is set during summer in Spain, I’ve just submitted a new novella for the City Nights Series. This one is set in Boston, where one of the main characters gets stranded the night before Christmas Eve. Luckily he finds a local lady who’s happy to show him around town and keep him warm….
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