Wife or daughter – the women are always right | Alun Newman

Over the past few weeks I have paid the price for being a spiritual being.

Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 7:57 am
Updated Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 8:01 am
One of the hardest jobs of the year, shopping for the perfect Christmas tree Picture: Shutterstock

Every year the only two people who are remotely interested in buying a Christmas tree are my daughter and me.

It’s become a pilgrimage to different vendors.

We’ve had our tough times when we’ve strayed to nondescript places where the retailer only takes cash for our convenience and then enjoyed a tree that’s so bad, it literally spat needles out at us while we watched Christmas approaching.

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I have trauma from trees that are of such poor quality that when you close the door you can hear the sound of tiny hands clapping as the needles hit the floor because of the draught.

One year, when I was removing the tree from the house, by the time it was thrown in the garden there were no needles left on it.

Behind me was a carpet of brown needles on the floor and an unpleasant cloud of language in the air. I’m not proud of that.

But over the years, we’ve got better at choosing.

I’ve learned never to buy a Christmas tree that is light. Heavy, equals plenty of water.

Wherever we are, we shortlist down to our favourite three and then make the final call.

This year, however, it was different.

We were in the car park at a country store-type retailer and then I saw it. The perfect tree.

The moment I laid eyes on this thing I knew it was the one.

It was like a moment from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

I walked up to it and turned to my daughter, ‘this is it, our family tree’.

My daughter commented that she thought it a touch big.

We live in a new-build and among their fantastic attributes, it has quite a low ceiling.

I explained to my buying partner that it wasn’t too big, in fact, it was an optical illusion as they store them off the ground on pallets.

The sales fella held the tree before netting it and even now, even on the Tarmac, it looked larger than our normal purchase.

A minor mistake was taking the Mini Regret (I regret spending the two grand on this car).

We had to have the top of the tree bouncing half out of the open passenger window with my daughter lying, strapped in, on the back seat.

Once we got it back home and inside the house there was no doubt it needed pruning, but with about a foot of growth removed it really was a beauty.

However, that is when the problems really started.

The tree holder I have, the type that also holds water, turned out to be too small.

It was as if a very tall person had the wrong-sized feet.

I only know it was too small because when I was watching TV, the tree fell on me.

Slowly at first and then it seemed to speed up. It was like I was being attacked by a conifer.

It required redecorating.

Unfortunately, it's happened so many times that no-one would sit in that position on the sofa. They were afraid. Cowards.

I’ve stopped putting water in the container because every tumble equalled 'a water and sap flood' on the carpet.

I have now decided the tree needs to lean backwards.

I have also tied it to a picture hook to offer a mooring.

So, in conclusion, this year I have learned that rather than being guided by the spirit of Christmas I will, next year, be guided by a tape measure and a wise teenager.


It is with great excitement that I can reveal that next year many of us can look forward to being the proud owners of a classic car.

I did own a proper ‘classic’ when I was in my twenties.

I say 'classic' in inverted commas because it was a mark four Triumph Spitfire. Not only that but I repaired the engine, as I was a mechanic, and then sold it because I couldn’t afford the insurance.

For reasons I never really understood, convertibles always cost more to insure. In those days, I couldn’t afford the bus fare or petrol to get to the insurers. Remember the days of queuing to get your car insured.

The subject of classic ownership will be in the news in 2022 because many are going to hit the ripe old age of being 40! If the current rules apply, it could mean that not only do they have different licensing rules but they can also make you money as they’d become free from capital gains tax (I don’t really know what that means but I do know rich people tend to get richer and they have classic car collections).

Let’s see if you once owned a ‘soon to be classic’. Cars that are 40 next year include the Austin Ambassador, Ford Sierra, Nissan Micra, Nissan Sunny and Mercedes 190E. I always wanted a 190E. The question remains, if they become cool again would you buy one and drive it? Would you reminisce with happiness? Would you look forward to the morning commute or just going for a drive at the weekend? No. Nor me. Cold, clunky and too many painful memories of being let down.

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

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