CONTRARY to what my family, friends and colleagues would have you believe, I love Christmas.

The carols, the food, the company, the chance to step off the hamster wheel of news for a couple of days: all good. What I am not a fan of is the interminable build-up – and in particular, seeing Christmas goodies for sale in the supermarket more than a month before the clocks go back.

I know, I know, that’s not exactly an original thought – although I suspect none of you will have had Mrs B muttering “you are such an embarrassment” in your ear after having A Moment, like the one I had when I laid eyes upon the festive fare on the shelves while doing the weekly shop the other day. But Christmas in September is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

And yet Christmas featured in all its sparkly glory on this very website earlier this week, courtesy of Grey Matters’ ‘You’re A Bit Keen For Christmas’ party on September 16. And as Alison Gildea from Grey Matters points out in that very story, it is all the Advertiser’s fault.

That finger of blame, though, isn’t entirely accurate. In fact, it unfairly tars everyone else who works on, and contributes to, the Advertiser with the same festive brush. So, with sackcloth and ashes duly donned, I hereby confess: it is all my fault. Nobody else’s. Mine, and mine alone.

Have I got a defence? Well, not really. In short: about a month ago, there was a wee space left in the Grey Matters column that appears in the paper each week. So I went digging on the group’s Facebook page and saw an announcement that their Christmas party would be held on December 16.

That’ll fill the space, I thought. So I typed in the details. And in they stayed for the following few weeks, nobody having phoned or pinged me an email to point out that not everything was quite as it should have been.

And I thought no more of it until, at the beginning of this month, I saw an announcement, again on Grey Matters’ Facebook page, of how, thanks to a typo (upon whom, at that point, they were gracious enough not to pin the blame), they’d be holding a pre-Christmas party on September 16.

That’s a silly mistake to make, I thought. Alison’s usually pretty on the ball with dates of events and so on. It’s usually journalists, with thousands of words to type and check every day, who trip up on a typo. But surely I wouldn’t have been so stupid as to mistake September for December?

Ah. Well. I’m surprised you didn’t hear the penny drop from here. And I’m equally surprised - and gratified in equal measure - that you didn’t hear the one or two naughty words that escaped from between my lips upon realising that yes, the mistake was all mine.

Can I explain how it happened? I wish. I do know that the days and dates in September are exactly the same in December - if September 16 is a Saturday, as it was this year, then December 16 will be a Saturday too. So perhaps I’d been thinking, moments before, about my own bulging (ha!) diary of social engagements for September 16.

Perhaps I was just living in a state of denial about the harsh truth that winter is well and truly on the way, and wishing it were otherwise. (If there’s one thing that Mrs B hates more than the way I embarrass her in the supermarket, it’s my tendency to start looking doleful and saying “the nights are fair drawing in” about 24 hours after the longest day in June.)

More likely it was a simple case of ‘brain fade’ - which, to be fair, is happening to me more and more often as my youth disappears ever further into the rear view mirror.

Whatever the excuse, the fact that the Advertiser is alerting everyone in Helensburgh to the reality that Christmas really is coming is something for which I, and I alone, am to blame. So I humbly apologise.

I’d like to promise, too, that moments of ‘brain fade’ like that one won’t happen again - though I fear that as hostages to fortune go, that’s one that must be pretty close to the top of the list.

Now on to the really important question: is it too early to start on the mince pies and the egg nog?