It was a clear night. Inky dark sky. Stars twinkling in an obligingly picturesque fashion, just as anyone could have wished. There wasn’t any frost decorating the scene, but global warming takes no account of the plans of the village of Tippsea for its Annual Turn On.
This was a big event in the Tippsea calendar with everyone mingling festively in the high street. Local restaurants and delicatessens sent their staff out to circulate with trays of nibbles. Roast chestnuts and mince pies from various sources were proffered and compared (with arguments over their various merits having rumbled, in some cases, for years) wine was mulled and then quaffed. Small children assembled for carol singing. Some of them sang, the first timers generally gazed around, goggle-eyed at the street party unfolding around them. There was of course music, issuing from every stall and shop doorway. The songs and tunes which everyone had already got heartily sick of gained new currency in this jolly event. The culmination was to be a two-pronged assault on the Scrooges and grouches: the arrival of a paunchy Father Christmas and the switching on of the lights.
Cadenza had never seen anything like it before. She had not yet completed her first year in Tippsea, and had already been astonished by the summer carnival, sozzled by the beer & cider festivals and amazed by the Bonfire Night fireworks. Things seemed to be building to a Christmas peak of excitement amongst her fellow villagers. She was muffled up against the cold, which, although unable to muster a full-blown sparkly frost, had managed a damp easterly wind which nibbled around any exposed flesh. She was wrapped in a jacket which zipped up rather more snugly than she remembered, and a fluffy woollen hat beneath which her auburn curls burst with a pre-raphaelite exhuberance.
Cadenza strolled up and down each side of the high street, absorbing the scene. She tasted amuse-bouches from one restaurant, and found that her bouche was indeed very entertained by them. She sipped at some mulled wine, crunching through floating apple chunks which convinced her of its health-giving properties, and savoured the warm glow it created. She negotiated her way around gaggles of small children, bundled and muffled so as to be almost spherical, yet still managing to find their mouths with the toffees and popcorn on offer. It was a most engaging and popular event; almost the whole village had turned out. She saw many, many familiar faces….and then, suddenly, an unfamiliar one.
Aubrey was just stepping out of the door of a café, his face nuzzling a hot muffin. Cadenza could only see his dark eyes above the bun. They were as brown as Father Christmas’s boots, and as cheeky as Father Christmas’s cheeks. Aubrey lowered his muffin as he saw Cadenza’s face, swaddled between hat and coat. He suddenly felt very festive, and his thoughts turned to baubles.
“Merry Christmas!” he exclaimed to her. The season provided such effortless opportunities for opening lines it would have been rude not to. Cadenza smiled broadly back at him, her eyes twinkling like one of the settings on the fairy lights.
“Do you like hot buns?” Aubrey asked, turning to indicate a nearby selection of them.
Cadenza nodded. Who doesn’t, after all?
Aubrey tossed some coins onto the table and picked up a steaming muffin from the stack. “Here you are! Enjoy!”
Cadenza took it and parted her plump lips to take a bite. Aubrey began feeling more festive by the moment. “They’re lovely and spicy! Get ‘em while they’re hot”
Cadenza nodded. For a few moments she was busily engaged in savouring the warm, moist muffin, redolent of Christmas in every mouthful. It warmed her, as did the presence of the festive Aubrey, who positioned himself to shelter her from the chill wind, a task which necessitated being rather close. Cadenza appreciated that.
“I was getting really cold, but I’m warming up now” This was good news for Aubrey.
Once Cadenza was fully muffined, they fell into step together, strolling along the street from pool of light to pool of light as they passed shop doorways. They began commenting to each other on what they saw, noting the trouble which the shopkeepers had gone to. Aubrey’s eye was drawn to the baubleage on display and he couldn’t help wanting more.
An announcement broke out fuzzily from the loudspeakers to the effect that the Christmas lights would be switched on in five minutes. A shiver of excitement ran through the crowds and became particularly vigorous when it reached Aubrey and Cadenza.
“Let’s find somewhere sheltered to watch it from” he suggested. She agreed.
They stepped off the main footpath into a gloomy vantage point away from the shop lights, and the cold wind. Cadenza was quite warm now, and unzipped her coat a little way – it was, as explained, a bit too snug. The zip, once she had, as it were, fired the starting pistol, spontaneously undid itself down past where the greatest stresses were felt, and in doing so, proffered Cadenza’s volumpty baubleage, shrink-wrapped in a fine jumper, to the night air. All at once those stresses transferred themselves to Aubrey, who (a great enthusiast for all things jolly) began to feel festivity surging within him.
When, soon after, Cadenza felt hot enough to remove her hat (with the necessary toss of her hair) Aubrey’s tinsel was glistening.
“Are you a traditionalist with stockings?” he asked her, breathless to hear her answer.
Cadenza nodded, assuring him that she never forgot her stockings, and that she made sure, with mince pies and sherry, that Santa was not disappointed when he made his entry.
She lived alone, she told him, but liked to keep the traditions going, even though nowadays it meant she filled her own stockings.
Aubrey was sure she did that beautifully. “Do you fill them right to the top?” he asked
“Right to the giggle band” Cadenza assured him.
“You like tradition then?”
Cadenza nodded. “That’s why I’ve come here”
Aubrey smiled. He loved this annual event but had never been so close to coming here before.
There was a loud drum roll and “Oooohs” from the crowd. A Tippsea dignitary stepped forward and made a short speech, and then there was a pause, before he dramatically jabbed at a button on the podium in front of him. There was another pause, in which the breaths of every Tippsea villager were held in anticipation – particularly including Aubrey – before a huge flash and a loud fizzing noise declared the process to have been…unsuccessful.
Aubrey and Cadenza both burst out laughing. Cadenza clapped her hand over her mouth and her beautiful eyes, green as seasonal greenery, laughed too.
All around them, people began to fidget, reassure children, chatter and worry.
But Cadenza grabbed Aubrey’s hand and, in a breathy whisper which set his giftwrap on fire, said “Never mind this: I’m starting to get cold again”
Aubrey couldn’t bear the thought of her doing that zip up again. The Christmas puddings being gone for good…
“Let’s go back to my flat. It’s nearby and it’s warm. We can watch from there if they manage to get the things working again”
So they set off together, with what might be construed as inelegant haste, to Cadenza’s flat. It was wonderfully warm, and with a very good view of the proceedings in the high street. However, no-one within it was interested: outside there had been a last-minute collapse. Inside, no such issues occurred. Cadenza unzipped her coat fully, and found soon that it was warm enough to render even her jumper unnecessary. Aubrey for his part was able to indulge his passion for baubles, and to add his own tinsel to the decorations.
They both agreed it was the biggest Turn On they’d ever been to.
Eva Feltham is our Fun & Fantasy Investigative Journalist. With a PhD in Double Entendre and a Mistress of the Institute of Innuendo, Eva specialises in seeking out mischievous situations.
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