I feel like we’re both parked up in a tree-lined lay-by, ready for a day of festive indulgence. I love this night. Always have. Want the night to go on for as long as possible. It’s Christmas Day afternoon I fear. That moment when you realise time is running out – when we’ve passed over the brow of the hill and we’re heading downwards. But that’s tomorrow. Let’s not rush things.
Window cleaner and his team dropped in around 11am. Peter is an amazing man. Incredibly hard-working. Charming, thorough and utterly reliable. Rugged with a quiet nature and utterly trustworthy. For the past few years he’s struggled to get up the ladder and most recently stuck only to the ground floor windows. Today I caught sight of him in our lounge as he took a moment before moving on to another window. He looked tired – more tired than I’ve ever seen him before. His eyes seemed deeper set than normal. Had he lost weight? I couldn’t tell. Was he struggling to get his breath? He sat down, caught his breath, and then got on with things. He passed comment on how he couldn’t feel anything in his hand because of the MS. That’s when it felt like someone had pressed paused on the Sky box. After all these years he’d named it: Multiple Sclerosis. He’s still working. A remarkable man doing work we take for granted. Saddening and yet still an inspiration.
Despite not having a car, we’ve made the journey to Purley to visit the family for the annual tradition: Christmas Eve supper. We took the hairdryer to Beckenham Junction and the tram on to East Croydon. Stopped off for an espresso at the train station while we waited for the 1557 to Purley. It was the first time I’d used public transport on Christmas Eve. An undeniable sense of urgency prevailed, tempered with good humour. The nip in the air helped. Managed to listen to some of Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols via iPlayer Radio. The idea I was able to listen to something broadcast live from Cambridge while we travelled south of London on the train didn’t go overlooked. Reminded yet again that there are some things my employer has managed to do which we all of us take for granted.
Taxi back to Catford after the gathering. Posh wet food for the cats (it’s Christmas Eve after all). Faeroe wolfed his supper down, gave one of his deep disturbing meows, and then yakked it all up again. I stayed upstairs preparing some Tweets while Simon cleared everything up. I’m not terribly good with vomit, feline or otherwise.
Spent the evening watching Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba on Sky Arts. First time we’d seen the show in 14 years. Happy memories of me and Simon seeing it on Disney Boardwalk in Florida back in 2000. Amazing show. Choreography full of grace and beauty. Cracking soundtrack – used the main theme in as a soundtrack for a package I made during my radio production training in 2003.
I’m wondering whether La Nouba might become one of our annual traditions. Spotted another one these past couple of days – reading Dickens’ Christmas Carol. I’m not entirely sure why I read it every year. I know what goes on and get the point. But somehow it’s something I think I ought to be reading every year. A reminder. Christians would no doubt point out that it should be the Christmas story I should read every year. The truth is, the thought has never crossed my mind.
The final Christmas Eve tradition is to watch the Alan Partridge Christmas special Knowing Me Knowing Yule. Simon and I have watched it for 16 years. We know every line. It still makes us laugh. A delight. After that, it’s bed and reading the final chapter of Christmas Carol.
The best night of the year.