Christmas day. I snuggled up to Robin and whispered, "Merry Christmas."
Her eyes were open but everything else was closed. I could tell she was still fast asleep when she replied to my greeting by saying, "It'll be floating water that we're swimming in competitively; so that we get better times."
"Yes, dear,' I said.
Her eyes fluttered closed and everything else started to open up for the day. When she was finally awake she said, "I dreamed that you just won lotto. The winning numbers were 1 2 3 4 5 6 and another number I can't remember. Perhaps it would not be a good idea to buy a lotto ticket based on that predictive dream."
"I agree," I agreed.
I got up and fed the cats their Christmas breakfast of turkey giblets, which they adored. Then I had a shit, a shave, a shower and a shampoo. Except I missed out the shave. Steaming, I wandered back to the bedroom.
"Christmas presents," I said. "Smoked salmon. Strawberries."
Robin got up and followed the ablutionary trail I had blazed, except that she missed out the shave as well. And then, at almost the exact second that she rinsed away the last foaming bubble, the water went off. Every tap was dry.
I rang the council.
"Welcome to Wellington Council. Merry Christmas. You are speaking with Colin."
"Merry Christmas, Colin," I said. "I'm calling from Newlands. Our water supply appears to have been turned off."
"Ah yes," said Colin. "We've had a burst water main in Glanmire Road."
"Glanmire Road?" I said. "That's where I live!" I suddenly felt very guilty. Perhaps it was all my fault. Had I shattered the pipes with the detritus from my sweaty armpits?
I looked out of the window. Dimly, through the grey mist and drizzle of the typical Christmas weather, I could see a large man wearing fluorescent yellow trousers. He was poking gloomily at the road with a big stick. Soon he was joined by an even larger man wearing an orange jacket. They scratched their heads at the problem, normally an infallible solution, but this time it didn't work. I explained what was happening to Colin.
"That'll be the one," said Colin. "It's a big burst. The water will be off until at least one o'clock this afternoon and maybe later."
There are only two things a man and a woman can do together when they have no water on Christmas Day. So we did both of them.
And once we'd finished drinking the bottle of champagne and opening our Christmas presents, we watched the television with our legs crossed, in the sure and certain knowledge that we only had one flush left
I decided to start writing this article.
Frederik Pohl once said that professional writers write every day. High days and holidays, birthdays and Christmas days. And days when you are so hungover that your eyebrows bleed. Today matched many of those criteria. I felt encouraged.
I also had the shining example of Dave Cutler to inspire me. Dave, for those of you who may not know, was the designer of Microsoft's NT operating system. In an article I read once, he claimed to be very, very proud of the fact that there was some code that he'd written in the NT kernel which was dated Christmas Day. I'm quite sure that yuletide programming effort had a lot to do with the way that the NT operating system worked. I wonder if he drank a bottle of champagne before he wrote that particular block of code?
Obviously there is something very special about stuff you write on Christmas day. This sentence, for example, was written on Christmas day. And so was this one. But his one was written the day after. I think the difference is quite marked, don't you?