There is something about the sound of a brass band that hits me straight in the heart.
In an often cruel and selfish world, it’s a beacon of hope and kindness.
Huddled together like Emperor Penguins in a tight circle on Briggate, their rousing tones soared through the clouds of skunk and vape-smoke, produced by gaggles of youths, dressed “Crimewatch” chic, in black puffa jackets, sweatpants and balaclavas.

Striding down Leeds’s principal shopping street on my way to work, the air crackled with that feeling of pre-Christmas excitement.
Swinging my brolly and doffing my trilby to the smiley faced security guard in Louis Vuitton, there was a veritable spring in the Michelsberg step.
December for me, is one of my favourite months of the year.
Running through the Otley Chevin that morning, the ground a glistening carpet of frosty leaves, the sky an ethereal glow of the palest pinks and powder blues, I felt privileged to be alive.
I know I’m waxing lyrical – horrifically close to dropping a #blessed – but oh! how I love the onset of winter and the countdown to Christmas.
After trimming the tree this weekend, I settled down with my daughters in front of the log fire to watch “The Grinch,” snug as a bug in my Ugg slippers, Michelsberg English half-rib cashmere roll neck and (naturally) a glass of Hine Rare VSOP Cognac.

This is the time of the year when I take my foot off the gas, misbehave and make time for drinks after work and of course, the long lunch.
My wife often says I have the mental age of a fourteen year old school boy, and to be fair she’s not far wrong!
A customer once told me it was important to grow old disgracefully and I couldn’t agree more.
I’d still love to be skiing, surfing and ‘havin’ it large,’ right up to St Peter’s Pearly Gates, and life without the odd cigar and bourbon and ice, would, for me, be certainly less well lived.
Acting your age is a dangerous business – the mantra of the beige anorak brigade – and a refusal to ‘behave,’ and ‘be sensible,’ speaks to me of youthful rebellion and a buccaneering spirit.

Two of my friends and longest suffering customers, David “Lord” Knaggs and Richard “Imelda” Larking, are doing just that, all set to row the Atlantic together in December 2025.
They will be sixty and fifty nine years old respectively when they set sail, their chosen Charities “Maggies” & “Friends of Alfie Martin.”
Naturally, a Michelsberg bespoke suit will be one of the auction prizes at their fundraising dinner, and I am genuinely thrilled to support such kind, decent, fun-loving individuals.
I only hope they will be drinking champagne and sporting their Michelsberg dinner jackets, as they cross the finish line in Antigua.
Gentlemen, Godspeed!

Whilst this is the time naturally for indulgence, it is also a time for reflection.
I am delighted to report it’s been another solid year in terms of business, and HMRC will no doubt be putting up the bunting as my Corporation tax, VAT quarter and Self Assessment statement swell their coffers.
This year I hit the snipers window and turned fifty, and so perhaps more than ever, have taken stock of my life to date.
I consider myself very lucky.
A loving childhood, wonderful job, happy family, treats in the diary and good friends to laugh with and make merry.
(I could have mentioned handsome, debonair, an inspiration, but as you know, I’m tremendously self-effacing.)
As for new challenges and goals, well that’s more difficult, because, honestly, I’m pretty chuffed with what I’ve got.
I’d like to try sailing, think I want a Labrador retriever in my life, and would one day love to spend Christmas day watching “Where Eagles Dare” in a Ski Chalet in the Swiss Alps.
As for now, it’s about protecting what I’ve got.
Doing my upmost to look after my customers like you, who continue to put food on the Michelsberg table.
So here’s thanking you all for your business and the fun times we’ve shared together in 2023.
Have a truly magnificent Christmas and all the very best for the New Year.