My run-up to the Christmas season has, for the past ten years or so, involved steeling myself for Heathrow. Internnational travel in the week before Christmas is not for the faint of heart or the impatient. Unfortunate then that most of my fellow travellers are both of those things – add to that my traditional ‘one for the road’ hangover and a general spritzing of germs and you can see why the run-up to Christmas fills me with dread.
As I know I will be at The Mom’s, there has never been any impetus for me to decorate my flat. When I was a student I was out before 10 December – because the flights are cheaper then – but now that I’m a working stiff, I tend to leave only a few days before the Great Day.
My Christmas prep usually involves me trying to figure out a way to avoid Westfield or Oxford Circus and usually fails miserably as that would require not only myself but the rest of the family to achieve a level of organisation we were not designed for. This year, I’m wilfully taunting death by going to Oxford Circus a mere two weeks before Christmas. Everyone tells me that I could save myself a lot of hassle if I just ordered things online but again, organisation, and then there’s the fact that I’m all over the shop in London, staying here and there, so figuring out a reasonable address to have things posted to would be tricky.
Anyhow, there aren’t many signs that Christmas is approaching here in Bristol. There are some lights and I saw a tree up in the twee Clifton Village square, but that’s about it. No tacky decorations on houses or in front gardens, which is a bit disappointing. My office has been decorated but I always find that a bit weird. I mean, no one will be there – in fact the university is closed for eight days between Christmas and New Year (one of the great bonuses of working for a university – eight days off and none of them count as annual leave). Tinsel was strewn across my desk and I promptly removed it.
Friends of mine who live out in the rural bit of Essex (as opposed to the The Only Way is Essex bit) have a house I’ m always keen to hear about. We pass it on the way to and from theirs and the train station. It’s been a hit with me for the past ten years as I try and go round to visit before I head to the airport. Sadly this year I’ll miss it but the standard of tacky decor isn’t quite what it used to be. Time was, they did a whole display – inflatable things, reindeer, lights and more lights – but I guess the recession is having an effect even in ghastly ornamentation.
London, I’m sure, will be a mixture of lights and random Santas mixed with the carnage of office Christmas parties. I’m not sure if Liverpool street Station will set up its traditional triage unit this year – which is, for those who don’t know, in the main hall of the station and full of beds and nurses and kindly people who help those who have had all the free booze at their office parties with tricky things like their name and where they’re going. There are little hospital-like cots set up and people will phone the drunkard’s wives or husbands and alert them to the fact that the party guest is struggling/cannot make it home/ has been put on a train but meet them at the station as they’re legless. It’s sweet in a Sodom and Gomorrah way.
Myself, I’ll be taking part in a few Christmas parties, but as far as decoration goes for me it’s just making sure I don’t leave myself any nasty fridge surprises for when I get back in the New year. Nothing says festive like finding celery that’s turned to mush in your absence.