I have an abiding memory from my childhood of my father - on his return from the annual summer holiday in Bridlington or New Brighton - shaking his head at the prospect of returning to work and saying "straight into the Christmas Rush now". My father worked as a mechanic maintaining the wrapping machines at Mackintosh's chocolate and toffee factory in Halifax. He would look after the machines that wrapped toffee fingers, green triangles, hazelnut noisettes, and orange creams in the twisted foil and cellophane wrappers. As the main market for Quality Street was the Christmas market, production peaked in the late summer months : therefore for him, summer holidays were immediately followed by the Christmas Rush.
I like to think of myself as following in my fathers' footsteps as I now prepare for my own Christmas Rush, although for me it will not be caramel swirls and coconut eclairs that dominate the weeks of high summer but manhole covers. Yes, once again it is time to start preparing for the preparation and production of that annual Christmas best-seller, that most pre-eminent of seasonal stocking-fillers, my 2010 Manhole Covers Of The World Calendar. Few people have any idea of how much work is involved in producing this festive favourite : there are pictures to be taken, selections to be made, production schedules to be organised, and budgets to be constrained. That most exclusive of pictorial calendars involves many days of back-breaking effort to produce : something which should be remembered by all those relatives of mine who say that I need "a little job" to keep myself out of mischief.
Next week we will be going to Oxford for a few days - my good lady wife is attending a course on bubonic plague or some such thing - and I am hoping to take the opportunity to visit London for the day. London is, of course, a mecca for manhole cover enthusiasts - up there with the greats (or as we in the trade say "the grates") of world manhole covers such as Vancouver, New York and Tokyo. I will take the opportunity to re-stock my image library in preparation for the 2010 calendar. So if you are walking around the capital and notice a tubby gent pointing his camera not at the Houses of Parliament or Buckingham Palace but at the paving stones beneath his feet. tap him on the shoulder and say hello. But don't expect him to stop and talk, he'll be too busy. After all it's his Christmas Rush.
Pre-order your copy of the 2010 Manhole Covers Of The World Calendar now. Simply add a comment to this posting giving an indication of how many copies you will be buying. Heavy discounts available for bulk orders.