I don’t know about you, but, well, look, here’s the thing – shall we skip gaily over the US Presidential election? All this social unrest/ new world order/possibility of Putin rocking up the Bristol Channel atop a nuclear submarine with his shirt off /the general apocalypse-lite the western world seems hell-bent on getting itself embroiled in lately, makes me want to run away and just do something NICE.

As I write, I have no idea what kind of planet we’ll be living on now, only that both ‘different’ and ‘a teeny weeny bit scary’ seem a safe bet. Which is why it ‘being ever so close to Christmas’ is a manifestly good thing, because it means as you can turn your back on global politics , dust off your ‘fiddling about with seasonal glitter and glue’ gene, and cock a snook at all the grim sturm and drang.

In the name of research, I asked Pete about genes, and, once he’d

Let's create!

Let’s create!

given me a fifteen minute Reith lecture about the history of gene nomenclature (which was fascinating, obviously, but possibly best kept for another column), I deduced that there must be a ‘seasonally affective fiddling about with glitter and glue’ gene. And while its acronym needs work (SAFAWGG? Let’s just stick with SAFA) that it’s probably, though not exclusively, nestled somewhere in the crook of an X chromosome.

Not sure if you have one but pretty sure you might do? Here’s my handy cut out and keep guide to SAFA.


You probably have SAFA if you head into town bent on general, non-seasonal shopping, but find yourself in Paperchase and momentarily transfixed by the rows of tiny purple reindeer.

You are actively looking out for facebook posts featuring GIFs of Noddy Holder, singing.

You are a conscientious home-worker, with a pile of normally appealing professional work to be done, but keep sliding off-piste and going on Etsy.

You go on a country walk and instead of paying homage to the myriad wonders of Autumn you keep picking up logs with architectural potential.

You start saying ‘ahhhh, when I retire, I can’t wait to…’ and the words ‘scrapbooking, ‘decoupage’, and ‘hand embellished gift box’ feature heavily in your internal discourse.

You see Prince Harry’s gorgeous girlfriend (Meghan Markle – keep up) and while you, like, totally applaud her ‘I don’t want to be a lady who lunches, but a woman who works’ quote (and, of course, file it away as a mantra with which to bore your daughter/daughter in law/son’s girlfriend/any random young female who you think NEEDS to know this stuff) there is a part of you, well-hidden, because still you rise, and so on, that thinks, ‘yes, forget the lunch part, because that’s such a misunderstood and maligned trope, isn’t it? But could I not also be a female who smashes through the glass ceiling, but still has space in her diary for regularly fiddling about with glitter and glue?’

You are fifty seven, but you still have a fully operational ‘Children’s Craft Box’.

You have a yen to create any of the following:

A festive twig wreath.

A home-made advent calendar, filled with hand-made peppermint creams.


Anything whatsoever out of pine cones.

You develop an unlikely enthusiasm for going to the local garden centre.

You make an extraordinarily passionate case for work-life balance, citing the 76.6% of working women of the Netherlands who work less that 36 hours per week, and going ‘you SEE?’ to anyone who hasn’t run away.

The thought of transforming your kitchen windowsill into a spanglish winter wonderland – involving fairylights, clumps of berries dipped in silver leaf, and a lovingly crafted homage to Sinter Klass – feels like the most important creative idea you’ve had all day.

You wish you were so well-heeled that you could wake up on a frosty morning and think ‘sod work, today I am going to stud oranges with cloves and steep orchard fruits in home-made blackberry wine and just anyone try and stop me, okay?’

You wish you were so authenitically ‘ye olde peasantry’ that studding oranges with cloves and steeping orchard fruits in home made blackberry wine was, like, just what you had to do, to survive. Because you KNOW it would make you soooo happy.

You wish you had someone you could make a costume for.

Or is it just me?

Either way, I have a SAFA gene, and you’ll find me in my craft bunker.


First published in The Western Mail Weekend Magazine Nov 12th 2016

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