We had a very quiet Christmas celebration this year: just my mother, sister, myself and the dogs. In years past we have had guests sleeping in every room, many dogs, and sit down meals for fifteen or so, so it was very different, but rather nice, to dial everything down and just go back to basics.
With a six hour round trip dash to Birmingham on the Saturday beforehand to retrieve my camera from the NEC’s Lost Property Office, and a further three hours that evening in the Covent Garden Apple Store being told my Mac Air flash drive was buggered, along with a dash to SW on Sunday evening for supper at Colbert and to see dearest Brig’s new Battersea apartment and, most stress-making, a major project keeping my nose to the kitchen grindstone, I didn’t get to leave the city until lunchtime on Christmas Eve.
After carefully blow drying my hair to Christmas perfection, I walked around the corner at midday to collect the car in preparation for the drive home – and promptly got caught in a flash storm. In for a penny, I dumped the car outside my front door and spent the next thirty minutes getting soaked to the skin as I played the car jigsaw game: tiny two seater cars with shallow boots and damp patches from a leaking soft top are a bugger to load up. I generally pack in a series of soft cloth tote bags so I can squeeze everything in behind the seats and on the back shelf, but it makes for a long packing process.
I hadn’t had time to mail anyone’s presents this year, and had had to keep cancelling promised meet ups due to the afore-mentioned project, so I prioritised children who thankfully all lived kind of on the way out of London and, saturated and dripping, headed first to Highbury to drop off Edward’s (godson 2) present and waggle a cheery paw at Miss P’s parents and her lovely step children, before pointing Santa’s leaking sleigh north to Highgate and godson no.1.
Upon arrival, an SMS directed me to the Red Lion & Sun up the road. Joy unconfined: there was food in the offing.
After a shitty, shitty few weeks I was so happy to plonk down in a chair for an hour, next to my oldest girlfriend – Clare and I have been friends for nearly twenty-five years, through school, university and London flat sharing, and her family, who I love very much. (Although, Clare, next time I am brushing my hair and wearing a clean sweater, I promise).
Sent on my way by a five party-popper salute on the kerbside, I headed the sleigh towards Muswell Hill to see Tara en famille, with added mince pie action and a quick catchup.
I had then planned to go west to Hampstead to drop in on Ayla and her brood, but with Spaniard’s Lane shut by a police roadblock, my plans were curtailed, and I headed north to the M1 and Northamptonshire.
Christmas Eve evening itself was very quiet: I arrived in the dark, had early supper with sister and mother, and then walked by torchlight to the village church for Midnight Mass – at 930pm, as the vicar had another service to conduct in a neighbouring village. We ended the evening at a village drinks party, warmed by Whisky Macs in a house full of lovely people, dogs and cats, before a walk home in the crisp, cold air, under the stars.