I WAS brought up in the northwest of England, just outside of Chester and only a stone’s throw from Liverpool. We lived in a tiny village where the people spoke with a soft Cheshire lilt and would walk round and visit neighbours in the run up to Christmas, delivering Christmas cards, scoffing mince pies and downing the odd sherry. All very Dickensian, a place of utter charm.

Over the years, the influence of the Liverpudlian has increased to the extent that even some of my family have developed unfamiliar accents and new traditions have emerged. One of the more charming is for the recently absorbed Scouser to visit houses in the run up to Christmas, and as a preliminary to the carols of old, would kick off with the following rhyme, which you have to imagine sung in a Scouse accent: Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat Could you please put a fiver in the old man’s hat If you haven’t got a fiver, a quid will do But if you haven’t got a quid, your window’s coming through.

Oh how we laughed (not really). The Christmas spirit extended right into the heart of Liverpool, when on shopping expeditions to the tinsel clad town, you could park up in any random back street, safe in the knowledge that a gang of eight-year-olds would ‘mind yer car mate’ for the paltry sum of 50p.

Here in Salisbury, the Christmas lights are blinking, the trees are winking, and the market stalls are ablaze with merchandise. Pop up craft fairs are popping up in village halls, front rooms and decorated barns across the county as we hurtle towards the annual inevitability of the 25th. I think I’ve lost the art of shopping, I haven’t been able to get my eye in for a number of years now. I think I’m poorer for it. They say it’s the thought that counts, but getting one in the back of the net counts even more. A thoughtful purchase, delivered with the enthusiasm of a David Beckham free kick, knowing that you’re on target for the overwhelming gratitude of the recipient, really pays off in the goodwill department.

This year I’m doing experiences and taking my family off to Goa for Christmas. No other Christmas presents, just two weeks of sub-continent culture, amazing food, very jolly locals, a smattering of Salisbury mates who go every year and a couple of old fashion industry mates who have houses there. I’m counting the sleeps and by the time you read this, we’ll already be there.

So have a very merry Christmas, speak in the new year.