Column: Dear Reader 01.01.15

Staff head shots. Graham Chalmers

Staff head shots. Graham Chalmers

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By Weekend Editor Graham Chalmers

Has anyone opened any of their presents yet and, if so, what did you get? asked the vicar of St Michael in Markington on Christmas Day morning.

I said nothing. I didn’t want to admit to the rest of the congregation to having been given a book of the poetry of Lord Byron.

I’m not the world’s most religious person but St Michael is a lovely little church with an impressively enterprising vicar.

At one point in his sermon he used a length of white cord to illustrate a particular point, folding and unfolding it, making it seem short then long, snipping a bit off the end with a pair of scissors with some skill.

As I squeezed past him on the way out I thanked him for the service and said how much I’d enjoyed the “Derren Brown bit”.

The look on his face made me wonder whether he was a fan of the show.

I didn’t watch much telly over Christmas and disappointing viewing figures show I wasn’t alone in this.

Commentators blamed the rise of Netflix and “the fragmentation of programme delivery systems” but a quick straw poll in the Harrogate Advertiser office revealed that old-fashioned ‘interactive’ party games such as charades seem to have made a comeback, too.

It reminded me of my grandparents’ house and the upright piano that took pride of place in their living room for several decades.

I don’t remember seeing anyone playing it much but I do remember being horrified as a small boy one day at the sight of various relatives dragging it into the back garden before proceeding to smash it to bits in a laborious and noisy fashion.

I’d always assumed that the days of family sing-songs had been superceded by the brand new colour TV in the corner.

But an uncle told me recently that, in fact, it had never been played.

This fine-looking instrument had lain unused since the day it first arrived.