Dark mornings, dark nights and dull, grey days. Snow, rain, then snow again… It was that time of year that no-one like as far as the weather went. But Christmas was less than a week away, and everyone loves Christmas, don’t they?

Women buzzed around the market stools trying to find their father a cheap XL jumper because they’d spent all their hard earned cash on son or daughter buying the latest iPad, computer, games console or whatever it was that was in fashion at the time. Poor granddad got to suffer. This was the man who fought in the deserts of Egypt for his country reduced to a cheap jumper, soup on a rope he’d never use, socks. Poor granddad. Who could understand? Perhaps granny? Yes, she suffered the same fate at Christmas; a blouse, a new pair of slippers, toiletries she’d never use (she had her favourites and never strayed). The older you get, the less you want or need, I hear you say. Are you just trying to justify yourself, or do you really believe that?

Brian understood; he knew only too well the sufferings of the old, the decrepit, the forgotten. He also knew what it was like to be away from home at Christmas. Fortunately, not without his family though.

“Right,” announced Brian with an air of authority to the old fogies sat waiting on the coach. He waited a moment till there was almost complete silence. “My name’s Brian. If anyone calls me driver, coach or anything else, I’ll ignore them. So remember, Brian.” He’d just started to give the rules and regulations when someone tapped on the coach door. Brian pressed a button on the dash, there was a sudden hiss, and then the door opened. An old lady clambered aboard.

“Sorry,” she puffed.

“It’s okay,” said Brian. The woman held out her crumpled ticket, which she’d been holding on tightly to in her hand distorted by years of arthritis. “My son and my daughter-in-law are sending me on holiday for Christmas,” she said excitedly. “Isn’t that nice of them?”

Brian took the ticket. “Yes, wonderful,” he said trying to sound enthusiastic. He glanced out of the door at a woman stood there. She was in her mid-forties; her hair was long and bleach-blond. She’d been the one who’d dropped off the old girl. This was obviously the daughter-in-law. He knew what she’d be doing on Christmas Day. Didn’t the old girl understand? Couldn’t she see the blindingly obvious? She wasn’t being sent on holiday, she was being sent away for Christmas, out of the way, out from under their feet, so her son could quietly stay in bed while his children ripped open their presents, get up in time to pop out for a swift pint before dinner, watch a film on TV, put the kids to bed and then spend the rest of the night playing hide the Christmas turkey.

Brian got off the coach to put the old dear’s luggage in the side compartment. The blond woman gave him a smile. She knew what the Christmas present was all about and she knew that Brian did too. In fact she’d been the one that had suggested packaging up and sending away her mum-in-law.

Some of them on the couch understood just why it was they were being parcelled off for Christmas. For some it was better. Traditional German Christmas dinner, crackers, singing and then dozing in the hotel lounge. What could be finer than being in the company of your own generation, those who understood, those forgotten, those in the same boat as you?

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