It has been a tough old year so far. In a months time it will be Christmas Eve. For our family Christmas Eve is a special time. We have developed a set routine. We meet up with family, go to Mass at the Sacred Heart for the Xmas service. This is always a joy. For me, hearing children sing 'Away in a manger' around the crib is special. It always brings a tear to my eye. It's been a long time since I was a small, innocent child, doing that, but it takes me to a special time and place. I feel close to my long departed parents and being surrounded by family is a lovely thing. After mass, we adjourn to a local restaurant. It always used to by Leyla's for a Turkish meal, in recent years, we moved over to Prezzo as there is a wider range (Leyla's shut last year) and some of thre group pereferred Pizza's etc. We then go home and exchange present with those we won't see on Xmas day. A few libations are despatched. I always have a note in my diary for today to remind me to order the Turkey, think of a present for Clare, arrange an Xmas beer with a couple of friends that I've not seen through the year. It gives me a month to get myself in order.
As I am sure you are aware, this year that note is largely redundant right now. I doubt those beers will be had. It seems likely that London will be in tier 2 or 3 of lockdown. It seems that we might see the family, but mass and a meal at Prezzo seems unlikely. In a normal year, I'd be in the middle of planning a few things right now. Since the Barnet Eye became established, we've always had the Barnet Eye community awards and The False Dots Xmas party in December. That isn't happening. There is the annoual Pogues/Pogue traders gig. That isn't happening. There is the Xmas trip to The Etihad for a match. There is my sister in laws Xmas party in Notting Hill. There is our post Xmas break with friends. You get the picture.
When the reminder kicked in, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I decided to laugh. As I'm writing this blog, I'm tucking into a rather tasty pasta dish prepared by Clare. I am seated in the reception of my studio, which has a few pro bands rehearsing and recording this week. There are a few with online streamed shows this week. The fact that clubs like the 606 club are having live streamed events is a very good thing and I've heard some of the artists rehearsing for the shows is a really positive and uplifting thing.
I was thinking long and hard about the issue of no Pogues this year. It occured to me that the reason that humans are a successful species as we are clever and adaptable. There are a few rather good videos of the band in their pomp. There's no reason we can't watch these, even if it is with friends in the garden (of course observing the social distancing rules whatever they are) on our projector. Get the Guinness in and make the best. There is a law that says we can't do certain things we enjoy, but there is no rule that says we can't be happy. We just have to put some thought into it. I was chatting to a friend who is making a Christmas cake. He is feeding the fruit with Brandy. We deserve a good Christmas this year. This doesn't mean being irresponsible or stupid. But it should mean that we be happy. In some ways we are lucky. We can do the Zoom catch up. The power is still on. The lights are working. Boucharie Gerard are still selling Turkeys and Sausages. We can have the best feast we've had all year. Put in some planning. Have the nicest beer, the best bottle of wine, make up a play list of your fave songs. Put the extra effort in. Find everyones favourite Xmas songs and versions.
But also spare a thought for those who might not be in such a good position. This is the time to donate to your local foodbank. Charities like the local Age UK are also doing great work with loneliness. We should never feel gulity for enjoying ourselves and feeling happy. Heaven knows this year has shown how much we need some laughter and joy. But lets spread it around a bit.