There’s a visible recoil when you tell someone you’re spending Christmas on your own. A barely perceptible intake of breath, eyebrows rising in suppressed horror, a softening of the eyes to indicate compassion. Christmas? On your own?
You’re welcome to come to my wife’s parents’. They take in strays every year.
said Jamie, my friend’s brother. This was the second time I’d met him.
The thing is, after two Christmases spent in the sweltering heat of Cambodia and the overbearing, sinister commercial mirth of Singapore, I’m looking forward to a Christmas on my terms. Quiet. Cosiness. A complete lack of stress, and guilt. This morning I walked down to Chatsworth Road market and stocked up for the next few days. Then I took a photo in homage to Trish Deseine, who’s had her share of Christmas trauma, and whose Parisian market sprees always leave me aching with longing. Tangerines, like Christmas crack, from the corner shop. Radishes to be eaten straight from the fridge, root and all. Tiny waxy potatoes to go with the tiny wild duck. Apple juice to warm and spice. Chestnuts for the open fire. Apple sausages and black pudding, hiding in the back, for a hearty breakfast on Christmas day before I set out on the bike to see how quiet London really is. And foie gras, of course, because some traditions are untouchable, and that beautiful sourdough loaf will need *something* spread onto it.
Happy Christmas. If you’re in the UK, do watch The Snowman and The Snowdog on Channel 4 at 8pm on Christmas eve. The loveliest, kindest, most talented people I’ve had the pleasure to work with made it, and it’s our little gift to you.