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Numbers allowed in any ‘households’ this Christmas, and who qualifies as part of a ‘bubble’ can be a bit confusing for some: ‘Group of individuals with whom you have close physical contact’ is described as a bubble. I have close contact with cafe and bar staff and shop keepers everyday and people I meet with in the street all the time. Can they be invited as well as my close friends? 

I’m sure it’ll all become clearer as we tune in more closely as we approach the big event. We’ve already had one lockdown this year and we certainly don’t want another one, especially at this time. Much of the celebratory occasion for families needn’t be too different this year: presents will have been bought in advance, decorations put up in plenty of time and invites sorted. What will be different and missed by many will be all-out, raucous, after-work parties, sizeable numbers at Christmas lunches and other large gatherings of the type we’re used to during these weeks – with or without colourful, Christmassy facemasks. These, for 2020, will have had to take a back seat in order to keep the beast away. 

Can they be invited as well as my close friends?

But despite the restrictions the COVID situation has brought upon us, Winston and Vicky were determined to make this yuletide no different than any of the ones they’ve so enjoyed for many, many years: “It was the late 60s when we started decorating our home at Christmas in this way,” Vicky recalls, “each year picking a theme taken from perhaps countries we may have visited whilst on holiday or on a cruise, or ideas taken from films or shows.” And that’s so true, now in their twilight years the couple were absolutely certain they would not give up and come up with another imaginative theme to decorate their home for family members, some friends and for their own pleasure too, keeping the Christmas spirit alive in the Danino abode. 

“Well,” Winston chips in, “What better than to keep it topical and call it the ‘virus pandemic’ theme?’ We’ve taken newspaper and magazine cuttings from those published during the year, especially those during our three-month lockdown in the spring, and worked around that.” 

Even the toilet rolls were pink! 

They spent many hours choosing items from the publications. Presents are wrapped in copies of the Chronicle, Panorama and other papers, and to compliment the showcase there are photographs of empty streets as they were at the time, photos of essential workers, our leaders doing the rounds and so many other bits and pieces including some of Vicky’s wardrobe accessories placed here and there around the flat. Also taking pride of place we mustn’t forget the forever, well-dressed Christmas tree which this year even includes baubles depicting the coronavirus icon! 

“We also wanted to show appreciation for how much help we seniors received during lockdown by commemorating this unfortunate period in our history. We were brought whatever food and medical prescriptions we needed. The Chronicle and Panorama were delivered every day and even our rubbish was picked up from outside our doors, so there was no need to go outside. The support we received was fantastic, and they couldn’t do enough for us. All we had to do was keep ourselves entertained, which we did. Vicky and I would dance, walk around the flat for exercise, watch TV, have a couple of glasses of wine most evenings and get busy preparing our ‘pandemic’ theme for Christmas… Oh, and clapping at 8 o’clock to thank those who were keeping us safe and looking after us during those three months or so.”

Some of the other ideas this flamboyant couple have worked on and presented over the years are Chinese and Indian themes, a German one inspired by a trip to Cologne, Marrakesh, Dubai, Japan, the Venice Carnival, Aladdin, and the Victorian era. “And one or two others that have probably slipped my mind.” Winston tells me. “We actually started thinking about what to work on this year at the beginning of lockdown and thought the coronavirus would be good, but how to get the idea going needed a lot of thinking, imagination and planning so we got started and came up with what we have here.” Vicky agrees and remembers how it kept their spirits up during those many weeks getting involved in their very original idea. Christmas family meals will have been given some thought too, and the couple will stick to the ‘household’ and ‘bubble’ rules for sure!

Over the years this colourful twosome gained ‘celebrity status’ in our midst. Nowadays, that label is much more understated. I’ve interviewed Winston on radio and television whilst at GBC and one time went along to film a piece during their ‘pink’ theme at Christmastime. In a much larger flat then, there was pink everywhere, even the toilet rolls were pink! 

In a lovely, smaller flat now, nooks and crannies were found to display the spirit of Christmas which even extended to the outside corridor windows (and yes, toilet rolls were again dressed in the rainbow coronavirus colours). 

There may be a potential slump in our disposition to get too excited about the festive season this year, and some of us might not feel the urge to really get stuck in because of the dangers all around us and the continued use of having to wear face masks – a minor inconvenience but an unwanted nuisance nonetheless. Despite this, Mr and Mrs Danino, like others no doubt, were having none of it and have soldiered on to celebrate this festivity to the full, at home, with a splendid Christmas theme.

As a result, I say boo-boo to the virus and keeping to the inevitable ‘virtual’ requirement of safe distancing from home, please raise your glasses and hail… to Vicky and Winston, Merry Christmas!  

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