The Christmas Tree


This is a true story although parts of it are hard to believe.

My wife and I got married in 2001. I was 44 and she was 27. For our first Christmas together we decided that we must have a Christmas tree. Tasha knows a couple down the road from us, Anne and Peter, and Peter works for Jackson’s Nurseries, Tea Room and Farm Shop, out in the wilds of Bagnall (well worth a visit). So we had a word with Peter and he said he’d put one aside for us if we’d ccome by that week to collect it.

So, as Tasha and I had part-time jobs, we managed to get off on the Friday and drove our little Volkswagon Polo out to Jackson’s. When we met Peter there he showed us the tree. It was about five foot high including a little red platic pot, as it still had it’s roots on. We wanted it with roots as we thought it would be more environmentally friendly to plant it out “somewhere” when we had done with it. Hanchurch woods used to be a magnet for folks doing this at one time, so I hear.

We tried putting the tree in the back of the car, with the rear seats folded down, which obviously meant lying the tree down. That was no good as all the soil would have come out of the pot all over the car. This wouldn’t have worried us later on, when we bought the house next door to us, as well as our own, as all the renovation work on that property meant that the car was permanently hummin’ and mingin’ with soil and sand and spilt paint and general rubbish. In the end we decided that the best opton was to strap the tree, upright, onto the roof of the car. So we took out one of the car mats and put that on the roof, with the tree on top of that, and strapped it on between the roof bars. I had roof bars and straps as I was always carrying sheet materials and planks and what have you, even by this stage of our marriage. I said to Tasha ‘What about the low bridges?’ She made a sort of snorting type raspberry sound: “Pppppt!’ Then she said ‘This is a Volkswagon Polo and it is a tiny tree, don’t worry!’ I’m like ‘Ah’. So off we went, away home to Penkhull.

When we got to Stoke town centre, there was some sory of carnival going on, with floats, i.e. decorated lorries with people dressed up on them. The usual Santa and his elves on one, Christmas Fairies on another. The poor girls looked blue with the cold in their little dresses. The traffic was slow but not too busy, being about early afternoon on a Friday. So we were able to pull in between these floats. As the procession went along London Road, where Lidl and Portmerion are now, there were a few people around and the people on the floats were waving to the people and they were waving back. Everyone smiling. So we started waving, like we were part of the carnival with our Christmas tree on top the car, and people were waving back to us. I was waving to one of the girls on a float behind us as if to say ‘Well this is funny, we’re not actually part of the procession really!’ So she waved back to me, nodding, as if to say ‘Yes, that’s funny’.

Exciting trip. We had to go out again almost immediately to get tinsel and baubles and stuff. After Christmas we did plant the tree outside. We didn’t want to take it away off someplace so we put it in the back garden. We managed to buy a little triangle of land, at the back, off of the council, just to straighten the borders up a bit, and that was looking a bit bare so we put it in the corner there. And there it still is. Except that it isn’t five feet tall any more it’s more like forty foot tall.

This is our “little” Christmas Tree out the back. 🙂 The building behind is new Council Flats, which I opposed the building of, as did many other local residents. When it came to the Planning Permission hearing, It was just me and a fella called Mike, from Penkhull residents Association, that actually turned up and I did the speaking. I mainly opposed the cutting down of the lovely trees in the bit of green space that was there previously. The council just had them cut down without any warning to residents whatsoever. A nice lady journalist gave me a quarter page article in the Sentinel the day after the hearing: “Anger as trees chopped down for apartments”. Still, the flats are further away from us than I anticipated and the build quality is excellent. I watched them being built from June to December 2019. Nearly finished now (December 2019). I just hope that the new neighbours will be as quiet and considerate as the builders have been. Our old Christmas tree will help stop us and the new neighbours from gauping at each other.

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