What day is it? What time is it, for that matter? Do we have to set an alarm yet? Do we need to open our laptops? Check the diary? Are we still in that Christmas and New Year propinquity or are we back in the land of the living?

These are salient questions because at this time of year I won’t know which way is up until at least the second week in January.

Don’t trouble me with talk of the sales, because I can’t use that as a guide, for I have no interest. To sell something at a fraction of the price it was a couple of weeks ago is taking the mickey beyond description, so I don’t partake. I’m canny enough to spot gifts during the year and snap them up at a decent price before hiding them in a special place.

This policy was all good and well until one Christmas a few years back, before I became an adopted son of Millig, when I couldn’t remember where I had stashed them. There followed a frantic search of every possible nook and cranny before I was poised to throw in the towel and ask her ladyship if she’d seen them, which would have spoiled the surprise somewhat given the gifts were for her. Then, true to form, I found them when I was looking for something else - with a day to spare.

After the curate’s egg of last Christmas when I received the unusual, and if I’m being honest, unwanted gift of a chainsaw, I eyed my parcels keenly this year looking for something axe-shaped. I enjoy foraging for firewood because I rarely put the central heating on for political reasons, so I understand the logic. But given the number of times I’ve driven off having left the indicator flashing or the handbrake on, there is always the danger that I might make a mistake and the kind of mistake you can make with a chainsaw, only needs to happen once. Happily, Wrights took it back without query.

There was no chainsaw required for this year’s Christmas tree, which was this week neatly cut into segments which precisely fitted the log burner, with a bow saw and a bit of elbow grease. With the ferns hissing and spitting away, I sat back to enjoy my presents – two books I’d dropped enough hints about all year and one which took me totally by surprise.

Happily, I live in the middle of nowhere with no neighbours in earshot, as I start to learn the chanter. If I don’t get on well, next year’s Christmas tree fire might have some musical kindling.