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Editor’s Slice Hello

I seem to say it every year, but the last 12 months seem to have flown by. It’s almost hard to remember when we were all in shorts and flip-flops! However, whenever I see the temperatures and weather forecast for the UK I must admit there’s a moment when I have a little smile to myself and I’m grateful for Spain’s blue skies. When I think of all the humdrum of the hypermarkets I used to have to rush round on Christmas Eve getting those last minute presents, plus the commercialism of Christmas back in England, I am glad Spain hasn’t gone quite as mad as the British seem to. I’m not all bah humbug — I do enjoy the decorations going up and the time we get over the festive holidays with the family. I guess more so than maybe any other year, this has been one of sorrow for many of my friends and family, especially those who are experiencing illness within their own clans at this most poignant time; those who have lost loved ones and those who are understandably stressed, struggling financially to make ends meet. 2013 is a year which seems to have touched a lot of people we know for many reasons so with this in mind, I do hope you manage to have a Merry Christmas and that the New Year proves to be a one filled with more happiness, better health and better prospects for the 12 months ahead.

Mike The Andalucían X5092417D Calle Juanita Romero s/n Campillos 29320, Malaga

Next deadline: 7 January

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Owner: Claire Marriott Editor: Mike Marriott

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Special thanks to our writers and contributors Alice Marriott Sandra Wrightson John Sharrock Taylor Tricia Johnson


Talking Point

The sweet history of

candy canes

Have you ever bribed your child to behave with a piece of confectionery? I know I have — and it is long believed that candy canes originated centuries ago for just this reason! They were used to keep the children of the church’s congregation quiet. One legend states that Cologne cathedral in Germany handed out these caned gob-stoppers ─ which were then known as sugar sticks ─ to keep the young and enthusiastic singers quiet and well behaved as well. In honour of the occasion, these candies are said to have been bent over at the top to look more like the shepherd’s hook he would have carried when visiting the Holy baby. Another legend states that the candy cane was first introduced in 1880 by an Indian confectioner. He wanted to make a sweet which would be seen by everyone during the festive season. It is said that he began with a stick of pure white to represent the virgin birth and sinless nature of Jesus Christ. The hardness of the edible treat was meant to represent

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Jesus as the solid rock and foundation of the church, as well as the firm promises of God. The white stripes represented Christ’s purity — the smaller red ones are reported to symbolise the suffering of Jesus before His crucifixion. The thicker red stripes denote the blood Jesus shed for each of us on the cross ─ the ultimate and final sacrifice. As well as the reference to the shepherd’s hook, the candy cane’s letter ‘J’ shape is also said to be in honour of Jesus ─ the shepherd of all. Whether these legends of the red and white cane are true or folklore, what is known for certain is that in 1920, Bob McCormack started to make candy canes as special Christmas treats. By the 1950s, McCormack’s brother-in-law, Gregory Keller, invented a machine to automate production. Whatever the true history, they do keep youngsters quiet for quite a while ─ be it in church or not!

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Talking Point

Caring for your Poinsetta Every year I buy a poinsettia and true to form, come mid-January it has keeled over and started to look how I am feeling with the New Year blues. This is an annual tradition in our household – we generally all come to the conclusion that come February 1, the plant (now a stalk) has to go and join its forefathers on the compost heap. So how do I manage to get this red festive flora to last? Apparently, the length of time your poinsettia will give you pleasure in your home is dependent on the maturity of the plant when you buy it and of course, how you treat it. With care, poinsettias should retain their beauty for weeks, and some varieties will stay attractive for months. Here are some guidelines to help keep your plant in tip-top shape, long after the tinsel has been taken down:

• Check the soil daily. Be sure there are holes in the pot so water can drain into a saucer. Water when soil is dry. Allow water to drain into the saucer and discard excess water.

• After you have made your poinsettia selection, make sure it is wrapped properly because exposure to low temperatures ─ even for a few minutes ─ can damage the bracts and leaves.

• If you buy a young poinsettia and want to force it into flower, you will need to give it a few weeks of more than 12 hours of darkness a day.

• Unwrap your poinsettia carefully and place in a sunny place. Keep the plant from touching cold windows. • Keep poinsettias away from warm or cold draughts from heaters or open doors and windows. • Ideally, poinsettias require daytime temperatures of 60 to 70°F and night time temperatures around 55°F. High temperatures will shorten the plant's life. Move the plant to a cooler room at night, if possible.

• Fertilize the poinsettia if you manage to keep it going past the holiday season. Apply a houseplant fertilizer once a month.

If none of the above works — buy a new one next year! A little piece of trivia: the Poinsettia plant was named after Joel Robert Poinsett, who was an American Ambassador to Mexico. He introduced the plant in 1820 to the United States by bringing clippings from Mexico to his greenhouse in South Carolina. The Poinsettia sap has been used in the past to help control fevers. However, please do not attempt to use this method at home!

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Alice’s Wonderland

Embarrassing jumpers and shaken fallers! Hi it’s me again – Alice Christmas is nearly here and it’s getting colder. I’ve already started buying presents for everyone. I’m still thinking about what I want for Christmas. Maybe I’ll get some inspiration from the Christmas market that I’m going to in Manchester. I’m going to England for five days to visit see Diane’s mum, Viv. It’ll be nice to get to see Viv as I haven’t seen her for a long time and she is very poorly. Becky and I are staying with family so we’ll have a few days with them too, which is always fun. I do hope it snows when I’m there! I might even see Izzy, a friend from Manchester, at the market. But if I don’t, she’s coming to see her family in Teba for Christmas. I don’t normally get to see any friends from England around this time of year as they normally visit us when the summer is here, so I’m quite excited to go and see her.

Our school has got the Christmas decorations up now. I always like to see the Christmas tree through the window when I’m in class. Mum loves Christmas so much she does the whole ‘Christmas Jumper’ wearing and we have to listen to festive music all the time – only problem is she starts in November! School has been hard with all the exams but they have finished now. I’ll be getting my grades soon. I hope I have done enough to pass. I know I have failed History. I am not really fussed on the teacher because she is supposed to be bilingual (Spanish and English), but in my opinion, she doesn’t know any English. Mind you, she’s not too fussed on me either. I miss my old History/Geography teacher. He moved to Fuengirola and I saw him in Primark, so we had a little catch up; he has the same opinion about my History teacher, so I’m glad I’m not the only one. I’ve been working at the stables a lot to get money for Christmas presents and my cruise, though I did scare myself not so long back. I was out with a girl in the countryside and she fell off her horse; he ran back to the stables. We were all OK and so were the horses so no harm was done — I hope she comes back riding as she was very shaken. Clever how horses know instinctively how to go home.

Well, I guess that’s it for another year – I hope you all have a great Christmas and New Year and I’ll speak to you next month. Love Alice x

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Just for Fun

December’s twenty teasers -

mixed bag of mind-blowing questions

1 Which English king was the son of Edward the Black Prince? 2 Which writer created Winnie the Pooh?

3 In which year was The Gunpowder Plot? 4 ‘When you wish upon a star’ is from which Disney film? 5 In which ocean are the Maldive Islands? 6 Teal is the smallest species of which creature in Britain?

7 Who directed the blockbuster movie ‘Titanic’? 8 Which cricketer was known as Fiery Fred? 9 In which London district is Sloane Square? 10 How is Louise Ciccone better known? 11 What did Harland Sanders found in 1890? 12 Which is the only mammal to have four knees? 13 What is the value of the brown ball in snooker? 14 Where is the Ocean of Storms? 15 On the London Underground, which line is coloured yellow? 16 Who wrote the poem ‘If’? 17 Who was the first film star to appear on a postage stamp? 18 What is Batman’s real name? 19 The song ‘Getting to know you’ comes from which musical? 20 At which sport would you use a penholder grip? Answers on page 30.

Merry Christmas to all our customers

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Charity News

Enjoy supporting

charities with T.A.P.A.S.

T.A.P.A.S. (The AndalucĂ­a Performing Arts Society) is not just a group of fun-loving people who enjoy putting on productions and/or participating in the social scene which is a large part of the society. Its members are avid supporters of many charitable organisations throughout the Costa del Sol area. As a rule of thumb, the very talented performers aim to stage at least two theatre productions per year in addition to an assortment of concert-style shows or musicals. Although T.A.P.A.S. itself is not a charitable organisation, it does support a number of different charities either directly or indirectly. The choir has sung at many different venues and in most cases, does so to support charitable events. More often than not, when there is a raffle during one of its productions, the proceeds are donated to a charity. Here are some of the charities that T.A.P.A.S. has supported:

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Cudeca

Founded in 1992 by Joan Hunt, a British lady, Cudeca provides care to people suffering from cancer. As well as its hospice in Benalmadena, it provides comfort and support to cancer sufferers with home visits throughout the province of Malaga. Funds are raised in many ways ─ particularly by its shops in the province, which are manned by volunteers of all nationalities. Many T.A.P.A.S. members are active in this very worthwhile charity. To find out more about Cudeca or its chain of shops see www.cudeca.org

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Charity News Ciudad de los Niños - Málaga

In November, the choir presented an evening of festive songs at Los Arcos, Cartama. There was a collection and raffle and the entire proceeds ─ in excess of €230 ─ were donated to this very worthy cause. Ciudad de Los Niños is a charity which supports disadvantaged children in the Málaga area. Run by the brothers from the religious order Hermanos Obreros de María, the charity provides onsite residential help for destitute children as well as a school open to children from low-income families. For more information on this worthy charity visit www.cnmalaga.com

Lux Mundi

Lux Mundi provides both spiritual and practical help to visitors and residents in its centres on the Costa del Sol. Like many charities, it relies heavily upon the dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly in order to help others. To read more about the Lux Mundi nonprofit Christian foundation go to www.lux-mundi.org

skin. The organisation offers specialised nursing assistance as well as support for the children and their families. It also offers advice and mentoring for health professionals. It relies heavily on the support and work of volunteers. To understanding this most painful skin condition and support DEBRA further, please visit www.debra.es These are but a few of the charities supported either indirectly or directly by T.A.P.A.S. There are many more and I’m sure that in the future, the society will continue to support worthwhile charitable organisations. To find more information about T.A.P.A.S. productions and its events — visit the website at www.tapassociety.com or send an email to info@ tapassociety.com Merry Christmas from all at

DEBRA

DEBRA is a charity working on behalf of children suffering from the genetic skin blistering condition Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). This is a rare, incurable condition, characterised by extreme fragility of the

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Spotlight

Racing cars, carols and machine guns By John Sharrock Taylor Carols in Delhi

Friends in Europe and the Americas are telling us of their first snows, but this mid-December here in northern India is like English high summer. After some cool mornings and evenings we are back into short sleeves. January may bring fog and even frost but for now, the marigolds are blooming and bright sunshine and white clouds alternate with the occasional light rain shower and the rumble of distant thunder. As always, we are into a busy round of end-of-year events, including an Indian version of A Christmas Carol presented by the boarders. The resonance of the repentant Ebenezer Patel across time, continents and cultures is truly universal. Val has nervously overseen a primary school nativity play with a lively cast of thousands of Giles children. Nervously, because Hari, our drama teacher, has somehow managed to sneak Moses and the Bulrushes and the Sermon on the Mount into the more usual story of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. The cold weather has arrived just in time for the High Commissioner’s Christmas garden party. The tropical grounds of the embassy are blanketed in polystyrene snow. Concealed blue spots add to the illusion of a freezing English winter evening and tiny white lights twinkle frostily in the jacarandas. Muffled up in overcoats, scarves and bobble hats, we eat figgy pudding, drink mulled wine and sing carols. In the opening solo of In the Bleak Mid-Winter, Val’s light soprano is as pure and steady as when I first heard it in a Lancashire carol service almost 40 years ago.

Christmas Eve in Wigan

The Christmas Eve Midnight Mass had just finished and the richly coloured interior of Th’ Owd Church was bathed in mellow candlelight. The rector said the final vestry prayers and the men’s choir prepared to proceed back to disrobe in the song room behind the church. Billy Cowan, the verger, swung open the heavy Gothic door and the lamplight spilled out into the churchyard. It had been snowing for perhaps half an hour. Huge feathery flakes floated gently down onto the worn paving stones and onto a young couple who were feverishly making love right in front of the open door.

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There was a brief, reflective pause, then two of my elderly colleagues delicately lifted the hems of their cassocks and stepped, as daintily as duchesses, over the prostrate bodies. The couple were so absorbed that several seconds ─ and half the choir ─ had passed before they noticed what was going on. Then they leapt to their feet in embarrassed confusion and fled down the churchyard, the girl covering her face in horror and the young man hopping unsteadily on one leg as he attempted to insert the other into his jeans. He turned and glared fiercely at us: ‘What do you lot think you’re gawping at?’ Well, I don’t think we had any doubt about the answer to that and I can remember supposing that my older colleagues, all round about the age I am now, would be scandalised or embarrassed by the experience. We arrived in the song room and there was another thoughtful pause. Then: ‘Poor kids! To be as desperate as that!’ ‘And snowing too!’ ‘We used to tek our lasses down th’ canal bank to do yon. Dosta remember, Jack?’ ‘We did that, Arthur, but, my God! Never in December.’ ‘Well, Merry Christmas, all.’ ‘Aye, Merry Christmas.’

Christmas Day in hospital

I spent one of the most enjoyable Christmases of my life in hospital. The ward was festooned with brightly-coloured decorations and we played party games such as ‘pass the parcel’. Nurses in starched caps and blue, red-lined capes came to sing carols and when Sister wasn’t looking, they and the younger doctors involved themselves in a rather incomprehensible ritual involving a sprig of mistletoe. On Christmas Day, visiting hours were relaxed and parents arrived with armfuls of presents. Beatrice and Bill, understandably choked with emotion that their only child had to spend Christmas in hospital, were dumbfounded when I thanked them politely for their gifts and told them they could go home. With typical childish callousness I was having fun with my friends and did not wish to be interrupted.

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Spotlight My parents’ particular present was much more than an armful. It was an Austin Pathfinder pedal racing car, with the swept tail characteristic of the real racers of that era, and in all respects it was superior to every other pedal car I have ever seen. The bodywork was pressed from the same heavy-gauge steel Austin used in their road cars and painted to the same standard. The detachable curved bonnet was held in place by two thick leather straps and the wheels had proper track-rods and real pneumatic tyres with deep tread. Even the engine looked convincing, with genuine spark plugs and a distributor. All in all, this masterpiece had only one defect, which was soon to emerge. Christmas is not Christmas without a tree and that year, Upper Johnson ward had a beauty, standing about twelve feet high, with dense, glossy dark green foliage and the classic fat pyramidal Christmas tree shape. It had been lovingly decorated by the nurses with tinsel, coloured glass baubles and cotton wool snow, and from its pinnacle, a golden angel with a trumpet gazed down the length of the ward. My racing car had caused a lot of interest among the other children and we took it in turns to pedal up and down the ward, though we rapidly discovered that with three or four pushers we could reach a much higher speed than with one child pedalling. The problem was that the Austin was not really intended to travel fast and its brakes were almost non-existent. Seated in the cockpit and fancying myself as Stirling Moss, I egged on my team to new heights of daring.

New Year in San Salvador

Velvety dusk in a tropical city whose gardens blaze with poinsettias and cascade with bougainvillea. We stand on a terrace sipping Pilsener beer with the lights of San Salvador gleaming far below us. The first distant detonations begin to roll across the valley: the sharp high-pitched volleys of jack-jumpers and the deep-throated roar of bangers. And what bangers! Forget the puny efforts of Brocks and Standard. A Salvadoran banger consists of a Prensa GrĂĄfica Sunday edition rolled into a thick-walled three-inch diameter tube and packed with gunpowder. One of these, half-buried in the vacant lot across the street, has just hurled half a hundredweight of earth and gravel against our bathroom window. Smoke billows across the scene and the city lights twinkle through it like sparklers. In the garden on the hill opposite ours, a wilder party is in progress. Drums pulse and shadowy figures gyrate against the glare of Roman candles, not noticing that they have managed to set their garage on fire. Rockets ascend from the Estadio Nacional in multi-coloured star-bursts above the vibrating city. By midnight, the individual detonations have melded into a solid wall of continuous sound. A Somme offensive must have sounded like this. And, as if to complement my thought, a steep, intermittent luminous green parabola sprouts from below. Somebody is firing tracers from a machine-gun. Carols in Delhi is an extract from No Baboons in India. Christmas Eve in Wigan and Christmas Day in Hospital are from A Wigan Childhood. Both books, including the Kindle version of No Baboons, are available on Amazon but if you buy direct from John at heddlenash@gmail.com â‚Ź2.90 per copy will be donated to the CUDECA cancer hospice.

The ward, which looked long from our childish height, proved shorter than we had bargained for. The car struck the Christmas tree head on and for a moment it hung poised at an angle before it crashed down, enveloping us in swathes of tinsel and scratchy conifer-scented branches. Ornaments smashed, ricocheted and rolled in all directions. The ward door stood open and I believe one of the baubles even ended up in Lower Johnson ward. This was the end of motoring as far as the Infirmary was concerned and when my embarrassed parents arrived for their next visit, they were firmly instructed to take the Austin home with them.

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Talking Point

Anything fruity in your

stocking this year?

When I was a child, there would be an orange in my stocking on Christmas morning every year. However, we used our own socks in our house ─ not fluffy red stockings with frothy white fur round the top. It didn't matter how big a sock you used — I soon learned this because as the oldest child, I had the biggest feet, but Santa still brought each of us the same amount of sweets and little toys. But there was always that maddeningly healthy orange at the bottom! How did they get into these traditional stockings or socks? I’ve always thought that it does fill out the toe of the stocking quite nicely, so Santa clearly has a keen sense of aesthetics — but why an orange? Many different sources tell a very old story about Nicholas, who was born in a village on the shore of what is now part of Turkey. He inherited a fortune, but spent his life helping the poor and the persecuted, and eventually became a bishop in the new Christian church.

The charming story of the bags of gold and the subsequent three gold balls — sometimes represented as oranges ─ are one of the symbols for Saint Nicholas. And so, he is known as a gift-giver. This imagery is also the origin of the three gold balls used as the symbol for pawnbrokers. Most of us know that over time, Saint Nicholas became our good friend Santa Claus — it has to be the same person, because you still get those oranges in your stocking, don't you?

The most relevant and oft-told story about Bishop Nicholas is that he learned of a poor man who had three daughters. They had no dowries and so could not marry. One night, Nicholas went to the man’s house and tossed three bags of gold for the daughters' dowries down the chimney. The bags happened to land in the stockings of the three maidens; they had hung them to dry in front of the fireplace. The bags of gold turned into balls of gold, which are now symbolised by oranges. Nicholas lived a long life and after he died of natural causes, he was canonised and made a saint. These days, we know this same man, born in Turkey in the fourth century, as Saint Nicholas.

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Men’s Matters

Our house the night

before Christmas

by A. Man

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Decorations are hanging, all done by the spouse. The fire is roaring but there’s a chill in the air, The wife’s on the sofa but oh, what a stare;

So the entrance of my daughter caught me unaware.

The children are rowing, the noise how it spreads,

The child is comforted and sent back to bed,

While visions of intervention dances through parents’ heads;

Why won’t children drift off early to rest their head?

And the mother-in law-is here, our cat on her lap, Father-in-law just settled now for his evening nap, Wife and her mother are in the middle of a natter, I listen to the drone of the usual Christmas Eve chatter.

It is approaching the hour of twelve so it’s late, There’s a sherry and mince pie on Santa’s plate. My in-laws are off to the guest room to sleep, It’ll be gone nine before they hear a peep. I’ll be up early using my toy-building art,

The subject the norm — Downton or Eastenders?

No doubt without clues, instructions or chart.

Not an issue to the male specie of the genders.

The wife’s snuggled under both halves of our quilt,

Both will have the normal cliff-hanging drivel,

Christmas – a time for family when memories are built.

To which all the females in my house will snivel. There’s a scream from upstairs from the youngest child, That’s the worry of a bedroom floor which is tiled.

So before another one passes me by, I can only finish and write "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

The cries and the tears are mid-flow as the kid appears, Granddad’s awake or he fakes sleep whilst he sneers. I’ll give him his due for it’s a plan I can only aspire to, Drink, sleep and remain oblivious to the zoo. But the ‘Dad… she said....’ can be heard from the stair,

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Spotlight

A study of Christmass

by Father David Worsley, Parish Priest St. George with St. James

Oh, look! Father David doesn't know how to spell! Well in truth, I like to send my spell checker nuts! I feel the same way about satnavs and have many a battle in my car with Mr Garmin! So, have I misspelled the festival we look forward to from one year to the next? Well, yes...but intentionally! Let us break the word down into its two constituent parts and it will make sense: Christ Mass: the Mass of Christ. First and foremost, it is one of several high festivals in the church's year. It is the Feast of the Incarnation when we celebrate God's taking our form upon himself and being born in Bethlehem to a virgin named Mary. However, it has evolved over the years into two festivals — Christmas and Christmass. There is a secular Christmas and there is the religious Mass of Christ. Obviously, as I am a priest, you would be expecting the same old chestnut you get from some clergy — that the religious celebration is the only correct one and the secular Christmas is far too commercialised and rather dreadful. Well not from me! I maintain that there is room for both and, make no mistake, I really enjoy the “secular” Christmas. Not only that: I think that what we term “the spirit of Christmas” is actually mirrored equally well in both. Let's have a look at the secular Christmas first. I would probably agree that it begins too early, but actually finishes too early as well. In the UK, it begins when Father Christmas hits the stores, normally in late October. How wonderful it is to see the wideeyed kids queuing up to visit him and make their requests, but what does he always ask each child? “Have you been a good little girl/boy this year?” Of course they always have been and so their request will be processed and placed on Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve. That element of condition has echoes of the religious Christmass, so there is an overlapping here. Christmas parties form an important part of our workplaces. Within the boundaries of sensible alcoholic intake, have you noticed how so many people who might be regarded as competitors or even adversaries in the office or factory, suddenly find what is loosely described as the “spirit of

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Christmas” and put their differences aside, toasting each other and wishing their “opponents” 'All the best!' ? 'Have a good one!' Is this the “peace on earth and goodwill to all men” taking tangible form? The ritual of sending or giving Christmas cards is wonderful, and if I send one to someone who doesn't send me one, I don't strike them off the list for next year and I hope you don't either. Then follows the giving and receiving of gifts, with the subsequent present opening on Christmas Day. I refute the charge that “Christmas is really only for the children”, always accompanied by that knowing look and sugary smile. Their faces, excitement and laughter make it special, but it's for everyone! Of course, you hear the detractors complaining that it's “become too commercial”. How many of us have a job all year round because of the extra revenue generated prior to and immediately after Christmas? Then there are the now-traditional Christmas lights and markets. Manchester, like many other cities had (and I assume still has) a German market and a wonderful display of lights, and it was wonderful to go into the city just for that ─ even if you didn't enter a shop. Then, we have the pantomime season! We took our children to as real and traditional a pantomime as possible – the Oldham Rep production at the Coliseum was always our choice. This was actors letting their hair down ─ not some dubious comic being clever and some little-known pop singer bashing out his latest offering and disappearing until the next house, exhausted after miming to some drivel or other. Christmas fayre, of course is special ─ unless you're a turkey ─ and the extra effort made by mums (although not exclusively by mums) is always well-received by family and friends gathered for the event. Long may it remain so! Probably the only thing I dislike about the “secular Christmas” is the sugary “muzak” played in malls and shops to 'get you in the mood'. Just doesn't work for me!

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So, what of the other Christmass? Technically, what we keep are actually three seasons – Advent, Christmass and Epiphany. As a boy chorister and in later choral life, we used to have three carol services – one for each of those seasons and you did not mix them all together on pain of severe retribution! Christmass began at Midnight Mass on Christmass Eve and before that it was Advent. However, when I said of the secular Christmas that it begins too early and finishes too early – by Christmas Day, most folk are “Christmased out” ─ we who keep the three seasons are only just starting on the Eve and for us, even better news: Christmass goes on until Twelfth Night and finishes only at the season of Epiphany!

Spotlight

If you've been brought up with the strict observance of the three seasons it is very difficult to get out of it but despite that, these days, even paragons of church music such as King's College, Cambridge, at their Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, mix up the three seasons dreadfully. For us, Christmass music is not played until Midnight Mass on Christmass Eve, but is then played all the way through to Epiphany. There are so many wonderful Advent hymns and music that it is a crime to cut it all short to begin Christmass prematurely, and even our opening hymn at Midnight Mass on the 24th December is the Advent hymn “O come, O come, Emmanuel” as the Mass starts only at 23.45 on the last day of Advent. Where does all this leave Epiphany? Well again, it is a totally different season to Christmass. We celebrate here Christ's manifestation to the Gentiles, when the Three Kings came to Bethlehem to present their symbolic gifts and, as Gentiles, worshipped the young Messiah. There are several clues in the narrative which totally belie the popular image ─ particularly on Christmas cards ─ which show the stable scene with Mary, Joseph, the child, shepherds, angels and the Three Kings presenting their gifts. Continued on page 16

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Spotlight St Matthew tells us that the Three Kings had journeyed to Jerusalem where they had met with Herod and had been told that the most likely place they would find the young king would be Bethlehem. They then set off for Bethlehem and came, not to the stable but to the “house” and not to the babe but to the “young child.” Read St. Matthew 2:11!! The inference is, therefore, that after the birth of Jesus, his parents stayed on in the city of Joseph's family and after the events in the stable, moved to a house. This was Joseph's town – he would have had relatives there to assist with the “young child.” The most important clue in all this is the reaction of Herod when the Three Kings, warned of his treachery in a dream, returned to their countries another way, by-passing Herod. His reaction? Kill every child up to the age of two in Bethlehem and its surroundings. Sure, Herod was a nasty pasty but if you're looking to kill a new-born baby, you don't need to extend the sentence to all children up to the age of two. You only need to do that if there is a time lapse between the birth to the time Herod dispatched the Three Kings to Bethlehem, charging them to return with news and location of the young king – a two-year time lapse. In our Christmass tableau in church, the

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Kings are some way off at Christmass, but slowly get closer until at Epiphany, they arrive. By Epiphany, the shepherds, animals and angels are gone; the stable looks more like a house and the Kings deliver their gifts. Our tableau, therefore, is still in situ for Epiphany, but transformed. Finally, as I don't know whether to place it in the secular Christmas or the religious Christmass, we come to the event most revered by grandparents and doting mums and dads – the school Nativity play. If it is difficult for adults to distinguish between the secular and the religious, think how hard it is for young children. This is doubly difficult when Father Christmas makes a loud entry as well and the kids are totally confused! Was he really at the stable?

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Spotlight Well, as much as the Three Kings were! Not so long ago ─ and it may still be the case ─ the PC brigade stopped people videoing their children in this annual ritual in order to thwart any unhealthy desires by paedophiles. As a parish priest I have seen more than my fair share of school Nativity plays and never suspected any of the parents and friends as being anything but that: parents and friends and family. There is only one Nativity play which particularly stands out. A seven-year-old lad was sure he'd get the starring role of Joseph and was mortified when he only landed the part of the innkeeper. Determined to have his revenge, he played along with his demotion and on the big night, when it came to the scene where Joseph and Mary are seeking shelter and knocked on his door, he opened it to the question “Do you have any rooms? My wife is having a baby and we are so tired.” Instead of directing them to the stable round the corner, he said “Yes, of course, come in, rest and have something to eat and I'll get the best room in the house for you.” Total chaos! Joseph and Mary in a daze, teachers having fits, and the audience roaring and clapping! Brilliant!

So, I and my parish wish you a brilliant Christmas, a thoughtful Christmass and a peaceful and healthy 2014. Services at Christmass in the Chapel of St. George with St. James, Calle Almeria 13, 41550 Aguadulce: 24 Dec Christmass Eve 2345 Midnight Mass with Blessing of the Crib 25 Dec Christmass Day 1030 Parish Mass with Carols. (Commem of St. Anastasia) 26 Dec St. Stephen 0930 Mass (said) 27 Dec St. John the Evangelist 0930 Mass (said) 28 Dec Holy Innocents 0930 Mass (said) 29 Dec St. Thomas of Canterbury 1030 Solemn sung Mass (Commem of Sunday within the Octave) 30 Dec Sixth day within the Octave 0930 Third Mass of Christmass 31 Dec St. Sylvester 0930 Mass (said) 1 Jan Circumcision of Our Lord 0930 Mass (said) 2 Jan Holy Name of Jesus 0930 Mass (said) 3 Jan Feria 0930 Mass (said) 4 Jan Feria 0930 Mass (said) 5 Jan Vigil of the Epiphany 1030 Solemn sung Mass 6 Jan Epiphany 1930 Solemn sung Mass You can contact Father David on 954 816 668

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Spanish and English Lawyers Best Wishes for the Festive Season from all at De Cotta Law Please join us at The Anglican Parish of Nerja & Almuñécar Christmas Carol Service, which is Sponsored by De Cotta Law at St Michael’s Church, Wednesday 18th December, 4pm

Nerja Office: Calle Diputación 11 29780 Nerja

T:+34 952 527 014 F:+34 952 523 428 E: nerja@decottalaw.net

www.decottalaw.com

Mijas Costa | Coin | Nerja | Tenerife

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Talking Point

Twelve reasons to sing this year

It’s true most of us can keep tune and belt out ‘fivegold-rings’ and possibly la-la-la to the remaining verses of the festive favourite, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, until we reach the ‘and a partridge in a pear tree’ line, but as with many songs, the lyrics do have a hidden meaning. Many believe the carol originated as French song entitled ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’, but it was originally written by the Catholic church as a catechism ─ a summary or exposition of doctrine and a learning introduction to the sacraments ─ song containing secret codes. From the mid16th century to the early 17th century, Catholics were forbidden to practise their faith so it is believed that the catchy Christmas song was composed to teach the basic belief of Christianity to the younger Catholic followers. The ‘twelve days’ are representative of the dozen days between the birth of Christ and the coming of the Kings (Magi) at Epiphany on January 6. Very similar to the parlour game ‘I went to the market and bought…’, the tinsel time tune was also a Twelfth Night ‘memory and forfeits’ game in which the leader recited a verse and his followers repeated the same, whilst adding the next verse themselves. Any player who failed to mention one of the memorised gifts correctly had to pay a penalty, such as offering up a kiss or a sweet.

The twelve gifts all had specific connotations. First day: The partridge in a pear tree — symbolised Jesus Christ. Second day: two turtle doves — signified the Old and New Testaments. Third day: three French hens — faith, hope and charity. Fourth day: four calling birds — represented the four gospels or the four Evangelists. Fifth day: five gold rings — the first five books of the Old Testament. Sixth day: six geese a-laying — referring to the six days of creation. Seventh day: seven swans a-swimming — signified seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, given to us at confirmation: wisdom, understanding, right judgment/counsel, courage/fortitude, knowledge, reverence/piety or wonder and awe or fear of the Lord. Eighth day: eight maids a-milking — refers to the eight beatitudes: the solemn blessings which mark the opening of the Sermon on the Mount. Ninth day: nine ladies dancing — symbolised the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Tenth day: ten Lords a–leaping — the Ten Commandments. Eleventh day: eleven pipers piping — symbolising the eleven faithful apostles. Twelfth day: twelve drummers drumming — signifies the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed.

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Legal

Consumer rights and

Spanish banks

Legal update by De Cotta Law

During the last year, the Spanish courts have been asked to make a number of decisions on banks and mortgages. The government and the Bank of Spain have been forced to make changes in the mortgage law, bank procedures and rules on mortgages, and two of these changes are of particular interest to property owners in Spain.

An urgent legal measure has been passed by the courts to ensure that this cannot happen. The applicant asking to pause or stop the repossession must be someone who would lose their sole home if they were evicted. Therefore it could not apply to second or holiday homes. There are also new rules on arrangements with the banks to be able to pay a rental and stay in the property, rather than face eviction.

Interest Rates

One is in the interest rates linked to Euribor. ‘A Clausula Suelo’ is a clause which prevented mortgage holders from taking advantage of the low Euribor rate over the past three years. It is believed that around 30 per cent of mortgages taken out have this clause. Claims are now being made in court to recover the excess profit made by the banks, which could be in the region of 7.000 million euros. Now that the Bank of Spain has acknowledged this clause is an abusive one, many banks are negotiating with their customers as court actions can lead to additional costs and fees for the banks. However, before taking action it is best to ask a lawyer to review the mortgage deed to ensure that you would be successful if taking the matter to court.

Repossessions

You may have seen some distressing scenes where people were evicted from their homes and these measures have gone some way to giving these people protection. However, it is interesting to note that one of the new penalties in the new Public Safety law is fines of between 1.001 euro and 30.000 euro for those who obstruct the authorities in their judicial work, such as during an eviction. For more information, or to book a free consultation, please contact Sandra Wrightson at De Cotta Law. Offices in Nerja, Coin, Mijas-Costa and Tenerife: Sandra Wrightson De Cotta Law (De Cotta McKenna y Santafé) C/Diputación 11 29780 Nerja (Malága) Tel: + 34 952 527014 Fax: + 34 952 523428 www.decottalaw.com

The other problem that existed with Spanish procedural rules on repossession proceedings was that a consumer whose sole and habitual residence was the mortgaged property may have found an abusive clause in the mortgage deed, but could not stop the repossession once commenced. There was no procedural rule which allowed a judge in the repossession to stay or pause the proceeding while considering the legality and fairness of clauses in the original mortgage deed.

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Just for Fun

25 useless things you just don’t need to know about... There are 2,731 steps in the Eiffel Tower. Not all of them are open to the public. In space, astronauts cannot cry because there is no gravity, so the tears can’t flow. Antarctica is the only continent which does not have land areas below sea level. Jimmy Carter was the first US President to be born in a hospital. In 1859, 24 rabbits were released in Australia. Within six years the population grew to 2 million. The electric chair was invented by a dentist. Most lipstick contains fish scales. The average garden variety caterpillar has 248 muscles in its head. Anise is the scent on the artificial rabbit that is used in greyhound races. The average human blinks their eyes 6,205,000 times each year. The cheetah is the only cat which can’t retract its claws.

Deposito Legal MA-1110-2004 Copyright © 2004 - 2013

All rights reserved

All advertisements are published in good faith and are for information purposes. We do not under any circumstances accept responsibility for the accuracy of such advertisements, nor is any kind of warranty or endorsement expressed or implied by such publication.

40 per cent of all people who come to a party in your home snoop in your medicine cabinet People photocopying their buttocks are the cause of 23 per cent of all photocopier faults worldwide. Your stomach produces a new layer of mucus every two weeks so that it doesn’t digest itself. The average human brain has about 100 billion nerve cells. A rainbow can only occur when the sun is 40 degrees or less above the horizon. A group of frogs is called an army. In English, four is the only digit that has the same number of letters as its value. All the clocks in the movie “Pulp Fiction” are stuck on 4:20. There are 45 miles of nerves in the skin of a human being. The ZIP in “ZIP code” means Zoning Improvement Plan. 40 per cent of McDonalds’ profits come from the sales of Happy Meals. There are 336 dimples on a regulation US golf ball. In the UK its 330. A “jiffy” is the scientific name for 1/100th of a second. Koalas never drink water. They get fluids from the eucalyptus leaves they eat.

The editorials are not a substitute for legal advice, and not intended or offered as such. The Andalucían does not therefore accept any duty of care to anyone who makes use of, or seeks to rely on, material in this publication. No part of this or any previous Local Connections or The Andalucían publications may be used or reproduced without the prior written consent of the owner.

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Things to Do

Mince pies with

frangipan topping

Mince pies are a must for the festive season. This topping is an unusual alternative to a pastry lid. Or you could just make the mince pies with the traditional pastry lid. If doing this for something different, cut out a star shape for pastry lids.

For the orange pastry

2. Cut the pastry in half and roll out in two batches. With a fluted pastry cutter, cut out 24 bottoms to fit in patty tins. Place in the tin, then a spoonful of mincemeat.

450g/1lb plain flour 225g/8oz butter 50g/2oz solid vegetable oil or lard Grated rind and juice 1 large orange

3. To make the topping, mix the egg white with almonds, sugar and orange zest to make a paste, add the cherries. Spoon a little of the mixture over the mincemeat filling and spread over to cover. Bake at gas mark 4/180C for 20 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tin.

For the filling & topping

1 jar luxury mincemeat 2 egg whites 6tbs caster sugar 100g/4oz ground almonds Finely grated zest of 1 orange 100g/4oz glace cherries, quartered Icing sugar to dust

4. Dust lightly with icing sugar before serving. If you have any pastry left over, make into traditional mince pies with a pastry lid

Method: 1. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, rub in the butter and vegetable oil or lard until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. It is easier to do this in a food processor if you have one. Add the grated orange rind and the juice, mix with a knife then gently kneed until the mixture forms a ball, if needed use a little water to bind. Wrap in Clingfilm and chill for about 30 minutes. This is essential as the pastry is very rich.

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Scrumptious snowball cookies

Things to Do

The powdered sugar coating on these delicious snowball cookies makes them perfect at Christmas time; they are also so quick and easy to make.

Ingredients:

227g butter 63g powered and sifted icing sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla 275g sifted self-raising flour (sifted) 1/4 teaspoon table salt 82g chopped pecans

4. Shape the mixture into golf ball sized balls. 5. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes at 180C (350F/gas mark 4) or until baked through and slightly golden.

Method:

1. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl and stir in the vanilla.

6. While cookies are baking, place a little extra powdered sugar in a bowl.

2. Sift the flour and salt together and add to the creamed butter and sugar mixture.

7. Once the cookies are done, roll through the sugar and set aside to cool.

3. Gently fold in the chopped pecans.

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Just for Fun

Twenty teasers

from page 7

19 The King and I 1 Richard II 20 Table tennis 2 A A Milne 3 1605 4 Pinocchio 5 Indian 6 Duck 7 James Cameron 8 Fred Trueman 9 Knightsbridge 10 Madonna 11 Kentucky Fried Chicken 12 The elephant 13 Four 14 On the moon 15 Circle 16 Rudyard Kipling 17 Grace Kelly 18 Bruce Wayne

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Anagrams

from page 18

1 Carol Singers 2 Santa Claus 3 Rudolph 4 Christmas cards 5 Silent night 6 Mary and Joseph 7 Brandy sauce 8 Wrapping paper 9 Christmas tree 10 Christmas Eve 11 Frosty the Snowman 12 Nativity play 13 Brussel sprouts 14 Roast turkey 15 Bethlehem

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Vehicles for Sale

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General handyman and pool cleaner. Reliable and experienced call 680 323649 We are asking for people out there who took out a mortgage in 2004 with Cajasur in Antequera to get in contact with us. We believe we have a case relating to the amount you could be paying on your mortgage. This may be too much because of a fixed rate policy, meaning that the percentage rate would not go lower than 4.59 per cent. We would be interested in forming a group to consolidate on this issue. Your personal details will be treated as strictly confidential, please email your contact details only to info@theandalucian.com we will forward them on to private advertiser who wishes to remain anonymous.

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The Andalucian - December 2013