At this time of year, I’ve been given a special Christmas present: what I think we should call the Publican’s ’Postrophe. Until today, all I had was hearsay – but now, as Othello says, we have ‘ocular proof’ from the window of the very hostelry in London’s Wood Green where these ‘Christma’s Partie’s’ are advertised. There is of course some clever word play here, despite the artless lettering. For surely these are no ordinary Christmas parties but festivities in honour of Mary, Christ’s Ma?
No doubt the publican is aware of the need to bring old customs up to date, just as the Guardian recently reported how Jeanette Winterson has, in an interesting phrase ‘taken up the crusade’ by bringing out her own, ‘unorthodox account of the nativity story told from the point of view of the donkey in the stable’. Not that it’s very unorthodox; U A Fanthorpe included a ‘Cat in the manger’ in Safe as Houses, with the lines:
Matthew, Mark and Luke and John
(Who got it wrong,
Who left out the cat)…
Thomas Hardy wrote about The Oxen, ending:
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.