Oh, the excitement when a Christmas tree is bought in December. By January, the thing that looked so bushy and green, its nostril-tingling resin evoking images of the Black Forest, has become a grey simulacrum. The baubles and lights hang about its shrivelled boughs like the clothes on an old man. Afterwards, the problem in London is what to do with the body. The first stage of dismemberment is to saw off a few inches off the foot and write Xmas 2009 on the smooth side in felt tip.

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I can’t remember why we started this tradition, but the growing pile of Christmas trees past, or the stumps of them, gives a strange, animistic comfort. After that, sheer brutality. It’s easy enough to get a large tree up the stairs, because, at that stage, it’s wrapped in netting, but, with the branches open, it’s all but impossible to get it down without knocking off the pictures. The answer I have evolved is to saw off the branches and then drop the remains from the drawing room balcony onto the street. If it’s left by the big wheelie bins, the council will collect the abused conifer, although I believe there is also a recycling point. The end is so much better in the country. Dry fir tree makes an excellent bonfire.