If you are one of those who is finding the day a little saccherine-sweet: why, this is for you.
It has nothing whatsoever to do with the season.
It is an illustration of that most refreshing additions to the cloyed palette, the anonymous curmudgeon.
You don’t know him: I don’t know him.
He’s just very grumpy.
In the early days of Summer Maddie, Felix and I were incredibly lucky. When Phil jaunted off to Germany by overnight sleeper train, we were packed off to London to see some of our favourite places.
After years of shaking our heads sadly at the admission prices and sermonising to ticketers outside, we clutched the coins in our purses and lined up for entrance to the Tower of London.
Oh, joy! Oh, wonder of wonders! This hallowed piece of earth where Elizabeth I had moored, the Princes had played, Charles II had his menagerie: you can imagine we were in seventh heaven.
And when I am in seventh Heaven, I take photographs. Clickclickwhirrwhirrclickclick.
I snapped the buildings from every possible angle: then Maddie spotted a raven on the lawns and of course, we had to have a Vogue-style photoshoot. Over here, raven; a little to the right; next to Maddie; next to Felix; you get the picture.
We snapped window-views, battlement-views, white towers, tudor-bricked rooms, traitor’s gates.
And of course, we snapped those pantalooned guardians of the Tower, Beefeaters.
There are cheery Beefeaters; and there are less cheery beefeaters.
A cheery Beefeater was waxing lyrical to a huge crowd gathered by the main gate, telling tales of heads chopped and pokers inserted where really, a poker has no business going.
The crowd was lapping it up. The Beefeater’s face was animated, his arms expansive. He made the most perfect photo op, entrancing the tourists. We would catch up with him now and then, bawling happy anecdotes at everyone who cared to listen.
As we wandered, full of stories and pictures, through the green at the centre of the tower, we happened upon a little Beefeater shed.
These are scattered through the Tower’s grounds. They are jolly smart: and they sit Beefeaters in them. Why, I am not quite sure. It looks to be some sort of steward role. Anyhow, sitting inside the shed was a Beefeater, stewarding or suchlike.
Ooooh! I squeaked. Project! Beefeater framed perfectly by little house!
The children stood back and I waited for the Beefeater to adjust his face.
This man did not want to be there. His face was a curious mixture of tedium and pique. Had he been able, I feel sure he would have clicked his fingers and transported himself to virtually anywhere else in the world.
I waited. His face did not adjust. We were staring at each other. I must have had a think bubble over my head: “Well…..go on, then!”
But much as I mentally urged him to change his demeanour, his face wore the same expression of disgruntlement. So many tourists, and they all want a smile, the expression read. Think you’re the first person who ever snapped a beefeater-in-a-little-house shot? Lady, you are the 1,106th today to try this. My patience wore out at number 5.
Usually our cookie slightly odd off-the-wall charm melts these types. But not today. Oh, no.
I clicked anyway. And every time I look at it, it makes me laugh.
And so, the Beefeater would probably be outraged to learn that he is to bring a little non-Christmas cheer to this day, for those of you who don’t really feel much like celebrating.