Never-ending story

At the moment of writing, there are still a couple of days left of the Christmas period. By the time the three kings have paraded proudly through the streets, chucking vast quantities of sweets at - sorry, to - infinite crowds of children (some of whom will, inexplicably, be using umbrellas to catch the greatest number of goodies possible), the festive period will have lasted approximately a million years, or at least that's how it feels.

It all goes on far too long, I'm afraid, from the moment El Corte Inglés put up their decorations in the middle of May or somewhere around that time, to the dying embers of family fun on 6th January when battle-weary parents can be seen staring swivel-eyed into the middle distance while their tireless children shriek and whoop the day away, riding a humungous assortment of bicycles, skate boards, roller skates and granddads' slumping shoulders. Granddad, it must be said, can often be seen waving a white handkerchief of surrender by this point.

Meanwhile, every evening for the last God-knows-how-many days, at 5pm on the dot, a marching band has struck up a rousing (if a tad out of tune) version of Feliz Navidad right outside my apartment window. When it all began many moons ago, and I was still a young man, the enthusiasm of the musicians was palpable and the rapturous applause of the crowds could, I'm sure, be heard on the outskirts of Madrid. Today, they could barely whack up the ginger to blow into their various instruments or bang their giant drums and, by the sounds of it, the assembled crowd consisted solely of the town drunk and a pair of bewildered tourists who may, I think, just have been clapping to keep their hands warm. These poor chaps have still got a couple of performances left to go and I wouldn't bet against only one bloke turning up with a tambourine on the last day, knocking himself out in an ill-advised attempt to smack the infernal thing one final time before he collapses in heap of Christmas exhaustion.

Even the hitherto raucous office parties by now consist of just a few valiant stragglers dancing gamely to Beyoncé's screechy Christmas song which always loses the little lustre it ever possessed as soon as the clock strikes midnight on 25th December. It's all too much for almost everyone to bear, it seems.

Christmas comes but once a year but when it does it does rather tend to outstay its welcome, don't you think?