Today has had all the grey tones of a wartime film. Brief Encounter perhaps. We have just over twenty four hours to go before the days creepingly get longer again. In the meantime I would welcome some blue skies, even if it means colder weather. I have candles and fairy lights in self-defence. Or maybe that should be protection. Those cards I send are all written and posted, the ones delivered by hand all pushed through letterboxes; a rare few parcels to addresses beyond walking or meeting distance went weeks ago, and the others have been wrapped, all with MasterB’s help – unroll wrapping paper and he sits on it – and passed into others’ hands. All except the one for my six-year-old neighbour who I shall see on Christmas Day morning. The flat has suddenly started to look festive. The sideboard is covered with cards and gifts. It’s weird how one moment it seems too early to be thinking about Christmas, the next a mad dash to get everything done.
Omicron has slimmed down the actual festivities. Drinks and nibbles are off again for the second Christmas running. I did a jigsaw at the weekend instead. I expect to do another, maybe a third. I bought a Radio Times, but the Christmas television schedules fail to inspire so far. We have lots of channels now, some of which I can access, but lots of channels seems to mean lots of dross. Why people want to sit and watch a bunch of celebs doing everything from building snowmen to buying antiques mystifies me. There must be the odd nugget in there somewhere, indeed I know there is as I have started watching Outlaws which is streamed on BBC i-player, but I am hardly spoiled for choice.
Last night was live music. Octavia and I went to St Bart the Great’s for the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols which was sublime. Again I wished I had belief. The Christmas story is heartbreaking in its simplicity, in its promise of a better world, of redemption, a world saved by the innocence of a baby born in a stable. Peace on earth and goodwill to all people.
Instead we have more governmental incompetences and shenanigans; Jacob Rees Mogg, a man who professes to have a Christian faith but seems unaware of the parable of the Eye of the Needle, making nonsensical and insulting replies to serious questions in the Commons. Oh hush the noise ye men of strife.
After the service we collected a takeaway order from a local Chinese restaurant where originally we had planned to eat with Celia and Charlie. They are being very cautious so as not to jeopardise a trip to Wales to be with their daughter. The restaurant closed for planned refurbishment around the time of our first lockdown, and has only recently reopened its doors. Restaurants and pubs are dying on their feet at the moment with Christmas bookings being cancelled left right and centre, and no support from government. It’s criminal. Anyway the food was excellent and I hope the restaurant survives. We opted to share dishes, which meant it was all vegan. The dim sum was delicious, the teriyaki aubergine scrumptious, but the stir fried vegetables were my favourite. Neither of us could detect any jasmine in the jasmine rice, but that was a minor quibble.
Walking round the streets near my home I was struck by some very large Christmas wreaths on doors of houses which have all changed hands in recent years. This means they belong to people who bought here since the houses started selling for £1m plus. To steal and adapt a phrase from Muriel Spark, there are classes within classes in Walworth. Competitive Christmas wreaths is a new sport in this neighbourhood, though I have witnessed it elsewhere.
So I anticipate spending much of Christmas alone at home with MasterB. This might excite pity in some of you, but it would be entirely wasted. I fully expect to enjoy myself in a quiet sort of way, eat good food, drink nice wine, read, walk, write and, who knows, maybe put up a few blog posts.
May your Christmas be merry and glad. And masked.
The Auckland region came out of a 15-week lockdown just over two weeks ago. Now Omicron has reached the border but is, so far, contained within MIQ (Managed Isolation & Quarantine). Fingers crossed that’s where it stays for the foreseeable future. Enjoy Christmas, Isobel, it sounds as though you’re well prepared.
I have just had a phone call with a friend on Skye who is also preparing for a very quiet Christmas. Her dog died three weeks ago, so it will be even quieter, apart from mice. She has not had mice while having cats and dogs, and this is the first time in her house with neither. She is looking into adopting a cat early in the new year. I am hoping next Christmas will be more sociable, though I am not a fan of huge Christmas lunches or big parties, so being quiet over Christmas probably worries me less than it would other people.
I haven’t been reading the WordPress blogs I follow so reading yours today was such a special treat. About the time we returned to Michigan in November, the state would have been the worst country in the world for new daily cases per capita – if it were a country. I don’t think it is much better a month later. We are being very careful again and I have taught myself tatting (with the help of a couple of books.) I am feeling everyone pulling back from socializing – as are we. Here in the states we don’t have easy access to affordable quick testing. I think it would make our infection rates go down if we did. I don’t understand why.
Lovely to hear from you Pat. We can get packs of lateral flow tests easily and they are free. I am also part of an Office for National Statistics survey which means I have a PCR test once a month. I log my tests, vaccinations, and how I feel on another survey, and the moment I say I am not feeling quite right I am offered a PCR test. It is reassuring to do a test if you think you might have been affected, or in the days leading up to and on the day itself when you are seeing people. So far I have not had the virus and I want it to stay that way. Apparently cases of Omicron in London are rising more slowly this week than last. I am hoping there won’t be a big spike after Christmas. Stay safe. Keep well. I shall look forward to seeing pictures of your tatting!
Sorry to have missed the sublime service. We did sing some carols in the Square after gathering to say farewell to neighbours who moved today after sixteen years. Then sang with a neighbour who works in theatre organising us from his open window as his son has Covid. What strange times again. All the best to everyone for Christmas and the New Year.
Oh hello! I have just sent you an email! Octavia and I wondered if you had watched the service online.
Sorry to hear about the violent encounter with the Wreathes of Wealth – hope there were no bruises. Sending you good news of the sun returning tomorrow as we sit in solidarity with grey skies. Our electric supplier encourages us to use less power during the hours of 4 to 9 pm. So much easier to do in June than in December.
I, too, often wanted the comfort of being able to believe in the Christ story. Unfortunately, I am, and I think you as well, are children of the Enlightenment and Science and stuck with a serious case of nostalgia. Or at least that’s how I temper the season. Take the music for its beauty because ours is a beautiful world in spite of the political players.
Not really that violent but another indication of how the neighbourhood is changing. I also love the theatricality of the service, how most of the candles are snuffed before the final reading. I think it’s available to watch online. It was last year when we were allowed to sing.
Definitely easier to save on energy in June than December!
London Live (Channel 8, Freeview) has some fab old films on at the moment. Outlaws was a triumph.
Thanks for the tip Billy. I see the Great Escape is on again…
Your remarks about ppl and the story of the eye of the needle reminds me of where I live and work. I live literally in what’s considered the Bible belt, yet I have yet to meet someone who acts like Jesus. The ppl here, and particularly where I work, bully others. They like to quote scripture but if Jesus was on earth today, they wouldn’t recognize him.
Unfortunately there’s a lot of that about. Have a great Christmas
We’ve had a very quiet Christmas too!
I do hope you enjoyed yours!