One largely under-appreciated pleasure of the festive season is that it legitimises a favourite, but oft frowned-upon, hobby of mine: peering into other people's living rooms as I walk by. Come on, you know you love doing it too. Well, I say that, but I get into big trouble with certain of my nearest and dearest, who find my leering akin to casing out the joint for a future burglary. Yes, I can be that bad.
At Christmas-time, surely we are all invited to peer, excused by the tree, handily-placed in the bay window. Given the price of those trees round my way, I wager that most are the most valuable, non-electrical items in many of the rooms I have managed to clock.
Given that cost, you would think that the decorations could be a little bit more, um, tasteful? You i readers might be old-school, of course, and believe it impossible to over-burden a tree. Throw any bit of tinsel, fake snow, and fairy lighting you can find in that tatty cardboard box from the attic. Add a hanging garden of baubles and candy sticks, plus some cherished children's creations that you have long forgotten the explanation for, and then what: Star? Angel? Or, atop our tree, a gold butterfly!
The neighbours may wonder why they paid £75 (!) for an eight-foot tree they now can't see, but if theirs are anything like mine this year, the smell is heaven. Young Heston would love to capture the essence for his fancy mince pies.
Clearly, my ogling abilities are second to none. Which is why it is only right and proper that I have the onerous task today of judging the annual Christmas decorations battle across the foyer here in i's ad department. Did I mention I was open to a little bribery? That Lord Leveson need never know!