It’s quarter to one on Christmas morning. The midnight
service has finished, and the entire village has gone
back home to drink or sleep away the hours until
daybreak. In the church there’s just me, tidying
hymnbooks and setting the chairs and music stands ready
for morning service.
I’m not particularly religious; I sing in the choir,
and I live almost next door to the church. And I’m
strong and healthy, so I’m the obvious choice for
church caretaker. Oh, and I’m still single in my mid
twenties, so there’s nobody else in my life to distract
But I’m not alone in the church. Kay, the organist, is
putting away music. The service finished ten minutes
ago, and she’s usually off home to her husband by now.
So I go to see if she needs some help. I’d quite like
to get home myself. I know the church like the back of
my hand but, even so, there’s something spooky about a
darkened church at dead of night. Every rustle, each
pop of the heating system, each contraction crack on
the masonry – your mind goes into overdrive. Know what
There’s something not right with Kay. She’s not really
tidying away her music. Her eyes are red – she’s been
crying. She tells me to go home; she’ll lock up when
she leaves. But I know for a fact she doesn’t have a
key. So she can’t lock up. Something’s very odd. So I
challenge her. She says she’s going to bed down in one
of the pews until morning – the comfy ones at the back
with cushions; the ones near the boiler house and away
from the howling draughts coming off the stained glass
windows. Says she wants to do some practice before the
service in the morning.
“Kay, you’ve gotta be joking. Sleep here – on Christmas
night? The service isn’t until ten – there’s loads of
time to do a run-through before people arrive”.
I press her harder, and eventually the truth comes out
– Jim’s left her – done a runner that morning. She
can’t face going back to an empty house, and there’s no
relations close by. Doesn’t want anyone else to know –
doesn’t want to lose face. Doesn’t want to be the
subject of village gossip. Poor girl – as if she isn’t
It’s one o’clock. I take her by the arm and almost
frogmarch her out of the church and down the road the
few steps to my house. The place is small, but it’s
cosy and it’s mine. To my surprise Kay accepts a stiff
whiskey (she’s never been seen to drink in public), and
over the next half hour her story begins to emerge.
Jim has a secret vice – he’s a gambler. He’s used half
a dozen credit cards up to their limits, and Kay’s just
discovered that the couple are thousands of pounds in
debt. Kay is a receptionist at an opticians in the High
Street, and there’s no way she’ll be able to pay off
the debts on her salary. She confirms the village
rumours that “things haven’t been all they could be”
between her and Jim for some time. Jim’s unlikely to be
back soon because there’s also local creditors he’s
borrowed from, and they’re getting impatient for their
Poor Kay – too honest and trusting for her own good.
She married quite late – in her late twenties, and now,
at around thirty-two, her world’s falling down around
her. And it’s the bleakest possible outlook on
Christmas Day. Mercifully, there are no children. Kay
confronted Jim about the debts early on Christmas Eve.
Things rapidly became very heated, and after a blazing
argument Jim packed a case and walked out.
It’s quarter to two. Kay makes noises about having to
go home, but I refuse to let her go. For a couple of
weeks now she’s been saying their central heating is on
the blink and that their house is cold – she’s been
coming to church dressed as if going to the Pole. It
suddenly dawns on me why – the gas must have been cut
off for non-payment of bills.
The house will be icy at this time of night. Besides, I
don’t want Kay doing anything silly. Everyone in the
village likes Kay, and we’d be devastated if she did a
suicide out of desperation. And again, organists are
like gold dust around here. If we lost Kay it could be
years before we found a replacement. Gotta be practical
and think of these things.
And I’m quite fond of Kay. She never makes fun of my
stammer, which has always been my huge social handicap.
She’s quite short, “cuddly” – chubby without being fat.
She’s freckled, with a prominent bust and what my
grandfather used to describe as “having two handfuls of
arse”. She’s clean, decent, cheerful and bubbly (when
she’s not with Jim) – just the sort of person to make
me feel confident and bring me out of myself.
So I persuade her to stay at my place. I quickly tidy
up the bedroom, and put her in my bed. It’s had an
electric blanket on for three hours, and I know it’ll
be warm as toast. Being a well brought up boy, I sleep
on the sofa. She has nothing to sleep in, so I find one
of my woolly mountaineering shirts, extra long and
fleecy. Looks as if it’ll come down to her knees –
certainly adequate to cover her modesty.
It’s quarter past two and we’ve just finished the “no I
couldn’t possibly’s” and the “are you sure it’s not too
much trouble’s”, and we’re finally asleep. Well she is.
I’m bloody uncomfortable, cold and stiff on the living
room floor. I couldn’t get comfy on the sofa so I took
the cushions off it and laid them out on the floor.
I’ve got a crick in my neck, and every time I turn over
in the sleeping bag I bang my knee on the coffee table
or stub my toe on the bookcase.
It’s three o’clock. I’m still not asleep and I’ve just
heard the church bell ring.
And four o’clock too. How many hours till we can get
It’s eight o’clock. Must have nodded off. I can hear
movement in the bedroom above – Kay’s stirring. I
struggle out of the sleeping bag. Every muscle is
aching and I feel shit. Put the kettle on, make tea.
I run a bath for Kay, and she confirms what I guessed
about her gas being cut off. She has had to wash with
kettles of water for a fortnight, and a simple bath is
like a luxury Christmas present to her. That alone gets
me a tender kiss on the lips – too much to handle at
this time of the morning. Kay bathes; I get us some
Nine o’clock; we’re fed, bathed, dressed. We drive
quickly to Kay’s place. She puts on a change of
clothes; I set up some timers on her standard lamps for
security at night. I drop her off at church to get
ready for the service; I go home and put my turkey
joint in the oven plus all the trimmings got ready on
Christmas Eve. The food I thought would last me
Christmas and Boxing Day will now be eaten by two
Quarter to ten and I’m in church ready for the service.
The church is packed; the old days of everyone tumbling
out of the pubs for Midnight Mass have gone, and our
congregation seems to have divided itself fairly evenly
between the midnight and morning services.
Kay catches my eye at one point and smiles at me;
otherwise she is as professional and competent as ever.
I feel like death warmed up. I croak my lines; I miss a
cue in the anthem; I breathe in the wrong places; I
sing badly. No matter; this Christmas my mind is on
other things. There’ll be other Christmases to get the
Now it’s 11.15 and the service is done. Everyone
scuttles off home to their turkeys. Kay and I lock the
church and drift down the lane to my place where we’re
greeted at the door by the gorgeous smell of roasting
food. I make coffee and while we’re drinking it we do
some quick planning.
Kay can’t bear the thought of going home to a cold,
empty house on Christmas morning, and we agree that
she’ll stay at my place at least until after the New
Year. By then she’ll be facing creditors and I’ll be
fully back at work in my accountant’s office.
At mid-day Kay goes home and returns around 1-ish with
a suitcase of clothes, presents, and bags of food for
her Christmas meals – we’ll eat mine today and hers
tomorrow. Meanwhile I’ve been busy in the kitchen. Ten
years of bachelorhood have made me at least useful in
the kitchen, if not particularly stylish or innovative
as a cook.
Kay’s changed, too – old jeans and a baggy sweater.
She’s let her hair down and looks softer, more girlish
than in her formal choir mistress persona.
We eat at about quarter to two. It’s a long, slow,
leisurely meal, which lasts all afternoon. There’s
nothing we want to watch on the telly, so she rifles
through my CD collection and chooses things from it
which she likes. Some Paul Simon, some mbalax from
Senegal, Congolese soukous music.
By the time we’ve eaten ourselves to a standstill it’s
dark outside, with my Christmas tree lights and lots of
nightlights giving the lounge a romantic atmosphere.
During one of the gaps between courses I’ve put a match
to the logs in my fire grate, and now they’re burning
well. We take coffee and brandy into the lounge and
collapse on the sofa together. She snuggles up with her
back into me, her feet drawn up under her, her head
leaning on my shoulder.
I put an arm round her to hold her to me; the arm comes
to rest on her breast. I wait for her to react, to make
a comment, to push it away, but she doesn’t. She folds
my arm into her breast and locks me into her. I reach
forward to kiss her and she leans back to meet my lips.
We’re chattering away as if we’ve been together for
years. She’s happy and relaxed and it’s suddenly become
one of the best Christmases ever. And it’s not over
For the rest of the evening we veg out on the sofa
watching whatever is least objectionable on telly. By
ten o’clock we’ve got through a couple of bottles of
wine, not to mention a large amount of brandy. I go up
and put the electric blanket on. When I come back down,
Kay has moved, clearing dishes into the kitchen. I sit
at one end of the sofa; she returns and stretches out
along the sofa with her head resting on a cushion on my
I cradle her chest with my arm. She feels different –
she has taken off her bra and is naked under the
sweater. I cock an eyebrow at her and she smiles at me
and raises her head to kiss me. My hand is exploring
under her sweater. Two heavy, soft, pliant cushions of
flesh, warm and inviting. She groans as I roll and pull
the nipples under my fingers.
“Kay, if we make love tonight… er… are you
“No,” she says.
“Shall I go up to the ‘Waggon and Horses’ and get
some,” I reply, very hesitantly – am I being too
forward and making too many assumptions? Have I just
overstepped the mark and ruined the day?
“Oh please, I hadn’t thought of getting them at the
YESSSSSS – she’s up for it!
So at quarter past ten at night I’m struggling into
shoes and coat and trudging up to the pub to get a
packet of three from the slot machine in their toilets.
To get to the toilets I’ve got to go through the bar,
and I feel conspicuous because I’m not one of the
regular drinkers. And in the toilets there’s someone
who knows me from the village, so I make as if to use a
cubicle until he’s gone. Then I quickly buy the
condoms, tuck them into my pocket and try to stroll
nonchalantly back through the bar and into the street.
Everybody in the village knows I’m single; if they see
me with a packet of three every bloody nosey parker in
this place will be watching my cottage to see who I’ve
got in with me. Thank God I’ve set up some lights in
Kay’s place – if they saw her house dark and empty
they’d put two and two together straight away!
When I get back home Kay has done the washing up and
there’s a final glass of brandy waiting for us both.
It’s a quarter to eleven and we’re both yawning. Kay
gets up and pulls me to my feet.
“Bedtime, pal,” she says. And before I can say anything
about who’s sleeping where she pulls me towards the
stairs. I don’t need much encouragement! A quick flick
round the room to switch off lights, and we’re off
upstairs. On a whim I take up a couple of candles with
By candlelight we undress. The room is cool but not
cold. As Kay strips she faces away from me, but she
turns to me in her bra and knickers. In the warm,
flickering orange light of the candles her face is
glowing. Her cheeks are slightly flushed, and the
freckles on her face are matched by those on her arms
and shoulders. They end abruptly at the point where her
breasts swell from her chest.
Her breasts are very white, almost transparent looking,
with blue veins tracing random patterns across them.
Her aureoles are brown, with dark pink nipples already
standing out from them. Her breasts are large and full,
and almost conceal a brown birthmark in the valley
between them. Her waist is small and emphasizes the
luscious swell of her hips. The hips in turn lead the
eye to her generous pubic hair, a dark ginger in
colour. I suddenly realise I’ve come to a halt while I
drink her in, and it’s beginning to unsettle her.
“Well, do you like what you see? You’re staring hard
enough,” she says.
“I’m sorry,” I mumble. “You look wonderful.”
“Tits too big, bum too big, thighs too fat” she says,
and I sense she’s close to tears. This isn’t how I
intended it to be. I take her in my arms and kiss her
for a long time while she wraps her arms first round
me, and then under my shirt against my skin.
“Let’s go to bed. I’m getting cold” she says.
We quickly strip off our remaining clothes and jump
into the toasty warm bed, under the duvet.
And as the candles flicker in draughts from my windows,
we’re in each other’s arms straight away, kissing,
rubbing, delving. We kiss and kiss for ages until we’re
panting for breath. I kiss and nibble her earlobes
which turn out to be very sensitive and then her neck
which is even more so. She writhes against me and a
warm hand wraps round my penis, pulling it and willing
it even more erect as I move my kisses down to her
clavicles and her sumptuous breasts.
Her skin smells of fragrant talc from her bath earlier.
As I kiss the deep valley between her breasts and the
round swell of their outside edges, she pulls my mouth
firmly onto a nipple and holds me to her while I suck
and lick and make little bites into the spikey nub and
And then I hold her hips with both hands and move down
to her navel, and trace with my tongue the delta of
tight curls which lead me to her cleft. She opens her
thighs wider and wider as I move down across the top
fold of skin above the cleft, and she gasps as first my
tongue and then my lips and teeth make teasing contact
with her clitoris. She sucks a breath in as if in pain
and the grip of her hands on my shoulders tightens
involuntarily as I flick my tongue across her clit.
And as I delve my tongue deep into the intense heat and
wetness of her opening, she removes her hands, and
bends both legs up high and crosses them across my
back, locking me into her as I gently hold the petals
of her lower lips apart and probe further and further
And when I break the embrace and come up for air she
has a condom unwrapped and ready to use. She pushes me
onto my back and nimbly straddles me, facing my feet
and lowering her vagina above my mouth so that I renew
my assault on her.
And I feel the amazing warmth of the embrace of her
mouth around my penis, which swells to meet her and I
become terrified of ejaculating too soon.
And Kay deftly slips the condom over my member and
rolls it down to her satisfaction, then dismounts from
me, swings herself round, and straddles me, facing
And as I reach to grasp the breasts poised above me she
takes my penis in one hand, opens her wetness with the
other and guides me inside her, sinking in one liquid
movement until I am inside her to the core.
The candlelight is throwing deep shadows from her
breasts over her torso and the moving golden light and
black shadows emphasize the magnificence and generosity
of her body. But we are also projected onto the
curtains and thus to anyone passing, so I lean to each
side and blow out the candles. In the pungent aromas of
candle smoke and of our arousal I reach up and take her
bounty in each hand, and we rock together in a triangle
of ecstasy until I can’t hold back any more.
I warn Kay that I’m about to come and she encourages
me; she locks her feet under my legs to anchor me to
her and as I thrust upwards with all my strength she
pumps downwards, and leans forwards for a kiss as we
orgasm. It’s a long time since I’ve done this, and I
thrust and come and pump for all I’m worth. And at the
height of it all, the seriousness of mating dissolves
into helpless giggles as our lovemaking produces
squelching noises which echo against the bare bedroom
We break apart, spent, and I remove the condom as I
slip out from her. It’s been the best, most fulfilling
act of sex I’ve ever had, and I know that it’s been
special for Kay too. I feel more alive than ever
before. Everything I experience feels more intense. I
feel terribly protective towards this woman whom I’ve
only got to know within the last twenty-four hours.
I remember that I haven’t switched off my alarm clock,
and as I do so I notice it’s close to midnight. And as
Christmas Day ends we turn to each other and she pulls
me to her, across her, and opens her legs to me as we
begin another, drowsy, lovemaking.
Christmas Days don’t come better than this!