The Coronavirus Diaries, 16th December 2020

Having suddenly woken up to the fact that Christmas is at the end of next week, and not still some time off, I have put up the fairy lights, lit the candles, and hung a couple of ornaments. I may add the bells and more ornaments later.

I am not usually a big fan of candles. They look nice but I worry about fire, so the electric candles Sue gave me some years ago are generally enough. However, this year I want light, I want something that somehow means hope, and candles are the quickest, most satisfying solution. I made an unplanned visit to IKEA today and came home with a box of candles and then some. I had to go to Greenwich to get my new towel radiator which will be installed on Friday. Hurrah, warm bathroom, warm towels. I din’t even realise there was an IKEA there. When I went in I meant to buy a new door mat. I completely forgot to look for one. The candles caught my attention and held it.

I’m glad I got them as on the way home I got caught in a traffic jam. It added considerably to my journey time. Watching four wheel drives and lorries driving over the reserve between the two directions of traffic entertained me a little. Radio 4 and then Paul Simon did the rest. There was a lot in the news about covid and Christmas. I have more or less accepted that I shall not be sharing my Christmas lunch with friends as planned. However, I shall spend the time inside with MasterB and I hope to be able to meet friends outside, as indeed I did last night, our last Prosecco and chips for a while as from midnight we moved into tier three and the rule of six is suspended to a rule of none. Actually I had cava, and I think Celia had red wine, while B&J had white, and I think Octavia had champagne.

Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 15th November

Octavia and I realised on our evening walk that these next few weeks are going to be enlivened by Christmas decorations.

Just six weeks until Christmas

Obviously the shops have gone all out on Christmas since the day after Hallowe’en. It seems more than one Londoner has also decided the jolly season has begun. Octavia reckons it’s lockdown and people looking for enjoyment where they can find it. I am not so sure. Some people just love Christmas decorations. I have only once spent Christmas in the US. It was something of a culture shock. After lunch on Christmas Day we strolled the neighbourhood where every house, without exception, was decked in lights, lawn displays, roof displays. The national grid must have been going quadruple time. I had never seen anything like it. Except of course I had, because such scenes often figure in US films set at Christmas time. I just don’t think I had believed they were real. It was like having far too much sugar to eat in one go.

Continue reading

More or Less Christmas

A few days before I left London for Northern Ireland Celia and I were walking down the road spotting the windows where the early adopters of Christmas 2017 decorations had been at work.

Early adopters for London that is. My first walk with WestieBoy revealed that all of Cousin’s neighbours had already dressed their homes for the festive season. Any idea I might have had that this was a country thing was put to flight when we had a three generations meal just outside Belfast. The bus between the Europa station and Saintfield went past house after house bedecked with fairy lights. My cousin Alex and his daughter Nadine were negotiating about how many trees they needed to get. Last year they had four.

I was invited to a wreath making session on Saturday morning, I declined but there were several other occasions where I found myself completely at sea amid earnest discussions about garlands, table runners and goodness knows what esoteric necessities of which I was completely ignorant.

I realised I have never been in Ireland in early December before, though I have spent Christmas there. I was culturally challenged.

I expect Auntie Anne (my mother) made a lot of Christmas, remarked Cousin. Not really, no, I answered. Mother was an ardent declutterer decades before the term entered popular usage. She tolerated Christmas decorations when we were small, but by my teens insisted that cards from friends and family were the only ornaments that mattered. I don’t remember the last time we had a tree. Cousin was surprised. She questioned me further which made me reflect on how Mother had so wholly abandoned this tradition from her native land. Not that there would have been much jollity in her home when she was growing up, but she must have seen what other families did.

I like a bit of tinsel, I am big on fairy lights at any time of year, I have gold and silver stars and little padded Christmas trees that I scatter on surfaces. Mother would not have approved. But I don’t have a tree, and the mass rush to buy and consume at Christmas leaves me cold. So I was very pleased to read this article in today’s Guardian.

There was a programme on the television earlier this week that I could not watch. It was about the most expensive presents imaginable. People with untold wealth commissioning others to find gifts costing millions of pounds. I found the concept obscene. The idea seemed to be to make the rest of us jealous of the mega rich. It made me feel their lives were very poor if this was their definition of pleasure and success. Ostentatious wealth is somehow very unattractive. That isn’t stopping me from buying a lottery ticket for tonight’s draw but my ambitions are fairly modest;enough to buy a two bedroom property with private garden in the same locality I live in now.

I’m set to enjoy my pared down Christmas. There’ll be parties and socialising, but no diamonds either on display or coveted. You can keep your designer labels and overpriced witnots. The gifts I’m giving are not expensive, but I have thought about the recipients. Prosecco will be drunk, nibbles eaten, carols sung, and far from feeling deprived, I anticipate thoroughly enjoying the jolly season.

Have a good one.

Sixth Stone: Twelfth Night

All the cards are in a pile. The clip on robins are back in the cupboard, the wreath is in the trunk. The chains of golden stars, the padded silver stars and green trees are in the tin. The gingham-ribboned pewter bells are stored away.
Now it is the turn of the thrusting hyacinths, the budding narcissii to fill the windowsills and proclaim that spring is on its way.

Christmas Commerce

Maybe it is because my mother’s birthday at the end of November but my attention doesn’t generally shift to Christmas before December. Not so Commerce. Across London our shops have been jingling sleigh bells metaphorically and literally since the day after they put the pumpkins away. On a wet grey morning in Mayfair I saw Westminster Council workers getting the borough up to speed. The Oxford Street lights have been up for what seems like ages.
Blue skies would make these baubles more attractive.

Baubled


I’m guessing blue skies would have made the task of hanging in them more pleasant too.

Baubling


Generally, the richer the area the more understated the decorations. I Continue reading