This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
While you were sleeping soundly in your bed last winter, author Judy Astley was creeping around in a royal park, dark-clothed and furtive, with a pair of loppers …
by Judy Astley
Mistletoe. I love its promise. Each year I hang it up and I instantly think of my teenage days when I’d mooch around at Christmas parties hoping the boy of my current fancy would notice how ‘accidentally’ close I was to the overhanging bough. I still think the bigger the branch, the more generous the affection, even if reality means nothing more than a giggly peck from an unappealing neighbour. But oh the price of the stuff. Last year I lingered outside my admittedly fancy greengrocer’s shop and thought: how can they charge £10 for a mere four-leaved twig? What kind of a miserable short-changed snog would you get under that?
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I am not given to crime, truly. But in the big local park I frequently drive through, come November the treetops are positively burdened with mistletoe. And mistletoe isn’t, I reasoned as I eyed with greed it last winter, an actual crop. It leeches on its tree host. It is free. Taking some would only be foraging, wouldn’t it?
Except this is a royal park. And one night in the dusky darkness, minutes before the daily closing time, dark-clothed and furtive, I switched off my headlights and turned down a side-track and stopped beside the tree with the lowest-lying clump of tempting mistletoe. But then, as I slid out of the car, opened the boot to take out the long-handled loppers, there came the shaky moment of wondering if the same applies to mistletoe as it does to swans – maybe the Queen owns ALL of it. Perhaps the second I chop off a stem the entire Brigade of Guards will race out of the bushes and haul me off to the Tower.
But oh, how lovely to have such a fine, huge, ball-like tangle of mistletoe in my hallway. I pushed the loppers up towards the clump, which was only just in reach and I gave it a trial prod. Amazingly, the whole lot instantly fell down into my arms and I could hardly believe my luck.This must be meant to be. I took the bunch home and hung it up, triumphant and a bit over-excited.
And did it work? Did Orlando Bloom/Sean Bean/Keith Richards (yes still..) come hurrying to my doorstep? Sadly not. But I did spend a lot of Christmas Eve dodging the unappealing neighbour who’d decided the mistletoe was meant entirely for him. Never a crime goes unpunished …
It Must Have Been the Mistletoe by Judy Astley is out now.