The Christmas tree worries me. In my mind, it simply isn't playing the game. It's heart isn't in it. It might have a lot to do with the fact that it arrived late, in a flustered state, as if it had missed the last train and had to hail a cab, arriving wet-through, little time to shake off the rainwater from the umbrella before ringing on the doorbell and putting on a strained smile when, finally, the door was opened.
Now it sits there, to the right of the fireplace, and I'm convinced that when nobody is looking it slumps and only stands to attention when it hears footsteps coming its way; then it looks straight ahead, keen not to catch anybody's eye. The last thing it wants on the day before Christmas Eve is to be slung out on the streets for not doing its job properly, and fed soup by volunteers in a London hostel.
I'm also a little worried about the creeping beige infecting the decorations and the beige wrapping paper used to wrap the presents that hide at the tree's base. Green and beige don't match and perhaps that's another reason why the tree seems out of place, a fish out of water.
It's a tall tree. Taller than most we've enjoyed over the years and yes, Dumbledore still has pride of place on the top. Look, it's not really Dumbledore, it just looks like him. It's some kind of Lord of the Rings-inspired alternative to the Christmas fairy sporting a long white bear and a deep purple cloak, but it looks good and that's why it still has a job.
When the Christmas lights come on later, the tree looks a little better, but I still watch it out of the corner of my eye, just to see if I can catch it out, but it knows this and is forever vigilant.
There was one good thing about this year's tree and that was the ease with which it was 'installed'. Normally the base of the trunk needs sawing and it stands lopsided, much to everybody's dismay; but this year everything worked fine, which was such a relief. Putting up the tree is normally a faff. I have to go into the loft to find the decorations and this involves a rickety ladder up into the darkness and an equally precarious – if not more so – journey down carrying a tall cardboard box that jingles with every step. I butt out of decorating the tree on the basis that I'm a bloke and women know more about making things look nice. Amazingly, this is understood and accepted so I can take a pew, watch some television or read the newspaper. But not for long.
"Let's see what it looks like on the other side of the room," I will hear.
"No, it's best where it is," I say, concealing mild desperation.
But invariably I have to move it – and the sofa – in order to find the most pleasing aspect for the tree. Eventually it goes back to where it started, and I'm convinced at this point that the tree is smirking at me.
It's weird having a tree in the house and it's there until 6th January. By the end we're all tired of it and look forward to dismantling it and throwing the tree into the back garden until I find the motivation to saw it into pieces, place the bits in a plastic bag and take it to the dump – the perfect murder!