Town mouse on pine needles

Christmas is no more than a memory now, but the pine needles are still with us: on the stairs, under sofas, in my tea. As usual, they’ve caused a clogged up vacuum cleaner to conk out. Last week, we performed the last rites over the grey simulacrum that had once been a green and bushy tree, so nose tinglingly evocative of the Black Forest.

In the Aslet household, these involve sawing a few inches off the foot, to add to our growing collection of Christmas trees past, or stumps of them. Marked in felt tip with the date, they appeal to the hidden animist in me. After that, sheer brutality.

It’s easy enough to get a large tree up the stairs, because at that stage it is wrapped in netting, but, with the branches open, it is all but impossible to get it down without knocking off the pictures.

The answer I have evolved is to hew off the branches and then drop the remains from the drawing-room balcony onto the street. From there, they can be dragged to a wheelie bin or a recycling point. The end is so much better in the country, where dry fir tree makes an excellent bonfire. No such joy for Londoners, only the everlasting curse of needles perhaps the tree spirit’s revenge for the indignity with which it’s been treated.