FAR be if for me to take sides in the Lords versus Commons disagreement, but I reckon that had the Tories been honest about the far-reaching effects of their planned tax credit cuts, the rumpus following this week’s vote in the Upper House might have been avoided.

But any political party will tell you the threat of cuts – financial or otherwise – does not win votes.

Whatever the elected government does now to justify itself or takes steps to cut the unelected Lords down to size for their actions could be lost in the mire of political dogma. DO YOU remember when there were 49 long days between Bonfire Night and Christmas Eve?

To the young it seemed endless after lighting the last firework and waiting for Father Christmas to arrive.

Over the past couple of decades, with Hallowe’en coming from the USA and growing in popularity, the period from late September to Christmas has become as one.

Imitation pumpkins, witches’ outfits and scary masks have competed with fireworks, Christmas trees, expensive seasonal gifts and acres of Christmas cards crying out for the public’s attention – and cash.

Street decorations are already in place in many towns, including Oxford – and Christmas is still almost eight weeks away.

The period is still as long but what about the thrill of hope and expectations?

We bemoan the fact that our children have become too materialistic. Is it any wonder?

THE prediction from former Thames Valley Chief Constable Sara Thornton that the beat bobby could become a thing of the past came as no surprise to former regular soldier Melvyn when the matter was raised over a cuppa in Queen Street Marks and Spencer café.

“Apart from seeing them occasionally in pairs around the city, they are as scarce as teddy bear droppings,” he said in his barrackroom graphic way. “If crime is falling, that’s good – but I haven’t noticed and I don’t think many people have.”

OH DEAR! Cabbages & Kings seems unusually gloomy this week. I’d better close with something cheerful.

It has been years since I was invited to a show launch, so to be at the introduction of New Theatre’s Christmas show, Annie, was a real treat.

Meeting up again with its star, the ever lively Jodie Prenger – she was here recently as Calamity Jane – was a joy, and to hear the plans of producers Michael Harrison and David Ian was exciting.

I know they will not mind my saying the event was stolen by Madeline (“I’m just 12”) Hayes who is to play the title role of orphan Annie. When she sang the classic Tomorrow, the hair I have left stood on end. What a voice!