News yells, Christmas is coming,
tons of – it’s just what we need chatter.
How long before we have a “world beating Christmas”,
and “top of the class Carols”,
with “best Christmas dinners ever”?
We know how our leaders confuse hype and hope.
It’s another of their mistakes,
deep wells of expectation, are a shallow reality,
huge hopes will end in deepening despair.
I fear a harvest of disappointment,
yes we’ve the desire, will, and vision,
‘mistletoe wishing’ for normality,
with vaccine’s victory tantalisingly close,
normality should be an easy pick,
but it’s a mistake.
This won’t be like any Christmas most of us have ever, or will ever experience, or even imagined.
Perhaps the closest experiences are Christian communities in Pakistan, China, or pre- war Iraq,
all establish, beleaguered communities,
small intimate gatherings, hidden, subdued,
but perhaps all the warmer, and meaningful for it,
a return to the festival’s faith roots.
A reassertion of faith, trust and community,
be it Christian,
be it Druid,
be it Pagan
or modern humanist.
These historic events and ceremonies,
precursors to the consumer splurge that’s the Western Christmas these days,
years and decades, and one month before the great day,
the dress on trees, lights, fake holly, and everything else are there,
but do we sense the buzz, the crack, the spirit, the warm excitement, enchantment and wonder?
I must say traditional pre-Christmas punch ups,
drink ups –
Last Orders pleaassseee
Friday, traditional start of the festivities, will be missed by me,
the way a toothache is missed.
Last thing A&E needs are violent pissheads,
beating each other up, and crowding A&E.
Looking at this COVID, flu, and general illnesses,
a more low key, pubs closed at 10 seems like a good idea.
A Christmas shorn of the over boozed, over eaten, over danced,
and over stocked cupboard seems a delight to be savoured by me.
Just to say, I’m, no “Bahh Humbug”, no anti Christmas,
no killjoy, and no definently NOT anti booze, as my liver will will testify
too many headaches,
a slew of tired, slow time hangover days,
worse with age.
My body’s limits and tolerance lowered,
the result? Delightful, enjoyable evenings,
laughter and clear memories.
Enjoyable breakfasts, razor sharp, sun streamed dining, golden gardens, and hot tea in Russian glasses, specs steamed, and radio, soft Sunday sounds.
So if that’s Christmas to come, I’m happy with that.
Sure I’ll miss the razamatazz, meeting mates,
memories, hopes and fears,
but it’s with vaccine’s promise,
it’s only one festival in a life time,
as a friend remarked, like missing Glastonbury, it’s just one show.
There’s the follow on, the self-deception fest of New Year,
New resolutions, there to be broken, renewed self-deception,
traditions that’ll continue,
ultimately not kept,
we’re all human, make mistakes, get it wrong, give up and fall down,
I’ve done for so for at least 3/4s of a life,
don’t see too many reasons for last quarter changes.
glasses of warm white Port,
Chilled Manzanilla sips,
smoked salmon and scrambled egg breakfast,
Ritual? Yes, of course, in these times, rituals , simple, easy, timely,
anchors in a turbulent sea,
beacons in a dark night’s storm,
comfort blankets in these Groundhog Nightmare Days, are what many need.
Simple pleasures, small events, familiar and warm, keep us hopeful,
to remind us of what’s not changed in this unimaginable Covid year,
and that’s what’ll keep us going through absent friends and families,
especially when they’ve left never to return.
Memories, memories, we’ve got them,
and in these days, futures’ fear-ladened,
threats, and losses,
real and anticipated and imagined,
lots of us turn to the familiar,
the past stirring old memories.
Places, people, things, long gone, possibly loathed then, lauded now.
Across my own Facebook Groups,
there’s nostalgia everywhere, Christmases past is no exception.
I don’t think or feel I’m one for looking back at Christmases past,
slipping on the Rose tinted specs,
switching the camera setting to sepia,
and remembering roast chestnuts on a fire,
mulled wine for visitors,
Noel bells, and jack frost’s stained glass windows,
melting as sun rises.
Yeah there were Great Christmases,
the first one when you worked out Santa Claus was your mum or your dad,
the one when you felt grown up, could drink,
still at parental home, school, sixth form college, or apprenticeship.
The more adult one – sorta – piling into a curry house,
post pub on Christmas Eve,
eat half a curry,
can’t get a cab, 3 mile walk, home in the rain.
Greg Lake was right,
“They said there’d be snow at Christmas,
they said there’d be peace on Earth,”
but instead it just kept on raining
Greg may have believed in Father Christmas.
The rain was all too true walking, rarely stumbling home,
bed, and Christmas dinner.
What does Christmas mean to me ?
Stevie Wonder sang
“Candles burning low,
Lots of mistletoe, lots of snow and Ice, everywhere we go,
Choirs singing Carols, right outside my door”
Yeah lovely images, memories, and hopes, suppose many of us want these memories, or even invent them, and if they keep us hopeful and sane in these winter nights, that’s fine.
Now Covid Christmas means Britain’s got talent chart toppers, some complain,
but remember the bad songs out shopping heard, Mistletoe and Wine;
Radio played, Stop the Cavalry;
Karokee sang; Mull of Kintyre,
All on heavy rotation on a plethora of music TV,
Give me Santa Clause is coming to Town, or Step into Christmas,
for the good, bad and ugly sounds of Christmas,
Just shop, shop, shop, queue, check out, tap and go,
whatever they’re essential in these lockdown days.
Good or bad they’re part of what Christmas means to me.
(For me my favourite Christmas song, Jethro Tull, - “Christmas Song” always a reminder of the ‘other’ Christmas, and this year, all the more appropriate, it’s cynical take, it’s insights, it’s comments, it’s dark humour, it’s sentiment. There’s people out there, who don’t, won’t, can’t enjoy Christmas, victims, innocent, isolated, homeless, nameless, forgotten and ignored. This year, this winter, this Christmas, it’s all the more important, all the more essential, that the forgotten, the overlooked, the downtrodden are remembered, in these chastened Covid days.)
So here we are, in Lockdown,
Pleasures, traditions, memories, limited, constrained, restricted,
for me no greeting hugs, no parting kisses,
no laughs, shared moments, people missed and caught up with,
a humongous miss,
friends, shared meals, cakes, and mince pies, wine and port,
sunny garden sitting, laughs in the afternoon sun.
As for the shops, it’s not the wrapping paper,
excess food, picking the booze, wine, spirits,
it’s house calls, no “back to mine”, wine, beer,
Gin, crisps nuts, music, laughter, and hangovers.
All we’ve got is Zoom,
A couple of things I’ll miss,
TK Maxx Stollen, always a true delight,
Christmases past, Pantone, light and airey, dollop of ice cream,
shillings ahead of Christmas pudding,
Christmas card shopping, choosing the right card,
for the right person, memories meander in soft light smiles,
raised glasses, downed drinks, and the card’s picked, signed and posted,
a memory treasured, more important in these dismal days.
These are my special day misses, in this special year,
suspended in the face of a hidden, powerful enemy,
it’s the small things, the intimate meals, special treats, seasons sounds, songs, and sentiments.
The Glitz, Bling, Glitter, and tousled tinsel, no miss for me.
That all too eager, hustle, bustle, shove, queues, so familiar, so essential in memories distanced, and frustrated shopping, two metre measured, cards only, self packing, wrapping, and card tapping.
Of course the Lockdown may be lifted, a parole,
reward, for good November behaviour,
sounds good, perhaps, and perhaps not, that’s the problem,
remember the last release, all too many of us went mad,
the beer monsters were out drinking up, eating out, to help out,
face to facing in real time, only to be moved back towards square ONE.
Currently at a turning point,
a crisis moment,
with critical choices,
travel and meeting petrol stations,
shopping ‘til we drop,
it looks like a risky strategy.
Looking at the tweeted chatter,
the hopeful posts,
the exuberant optimism, and blind hope,
great to have hope,
but what’s at risk?
Five weeks, Six weeks of new lockdown, looks to me,
Imagine an alcoholic
Done the hard miles, two lockdowns, taken the tough steps,
masks, hands, face, distance, hope in sight – a vaccine,
and we are 10 steps into a 12 step programme,
will a friends and family Christmas blow the good work
and back to step five...
more lockdowns, more testing, more job losses,
is it worth it, we’re close, do want to move slowly if it means
we all survive?
The issue, will we cut loose, and live life to the full, a pre-covid blow out?
The risks are there,
a few days of delight,
a rise in admissions, in deaths,
too high a price to pay for a crumb of freedom?
Like to say we’ll see, but here’s the thing
there’s no turning back, no guarantee of a Covid killing vaccine safety,
no sense of when the vaccine will roll out,
no proof it treats the virus, it stops it, perhaps but for how long.
Should there be a window of release?
Not convinced me,
the risks strike me as... just too high,
Save up the delight,
Save up the pleasure,
Don’t call the vaccine a success in November
We need a release,
We need a life affirmation,
One deferred Christmas,
May be the price worth paying
Memories are Now, is a bold and inventive collection from Jesca Hoop who says each new record begins with a musical identity crisis
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