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.