Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas In London

MARCELLUS: It faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.

HORATIO: So have I heard and do in part believe it.

- Hamlet, Act I, Scene I

PAGE: Therefore they thought it good you hear a play
And frame your mind to mirth and merriment,
Which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life.

SLY: Marry, I will, let them play it. Is not a
comondy a Christmas gambold or a tumbling-trick?

PAGE: No, my good lord; it is more pleasing stuff.

SLY: What, household stuff?

- Taming of the Shrew, Act I, Scene II

The streets were full of people shopping and looking for discount theatre tickets between the Trocadero and Picadilly Circus, and the little Christmas fair didn't tempt me to push through the crowds around the booths, even though they had hot mulled wine and roasted chestnuts. Sometimes I really miss living in France. I went to Fortnum & Mason instead, to see what sorts of treats they had for me, but though I saw several tasty things for sale, there were so many people picking up last-minute Christmas supplies that the lines at the cash registers were daunting. As were the prices; even the discounted gingerbread houses - which were rather small, and quite plainly decorated - had jaw-dropping stickers. I suppose if you've been the go-to London fancy grocery spot for over 300 years you can charge as much as you want. I walked up and down the curving staircases lined with chandeliers and artwork, took advantage of the very nice lady's powder room (as the sign on the door said), and decided to do my Christmas dinner shopping elsewhere. In any event, I still had some wandering around to do, and a train trip back to the suburbs, so I didn't want to worry about groceries.

I'd walked by Buckingham Palace earlier and there were quite a few people there as well, all taking pictures of themselves and each other in front of the tall iron gates. The palace wasn't decorated for the holidays, which is a shame - they could do all sorts of fun things with lights on that massive facade. I did take a picture of the lighted but otherwise undecorated tree at one of the entrances, between the two guards with their tall fur hats.

There were a half dozen street performers in front of the National Gallery, if "perform" is the right word for the way they hang seemingly in midair without doing much of anything else. Santa was hanging around with them.

I opened presents this morning, though not from Santa; Lynne left me a small gift of a blank journal and a cute handwarmer in the shape of a mitten, with one of those chemical packs you activate to generate heat. This one seems to be reusable, with metal buttons that need to be rubbed against each other. I'll probably get quite a bit of use out of it when I go for walks in snowy Scotland and battle the north wind in Norway. The cats had a fresh catnip mouse each, and are now sleeping off their herb hangovers.

It was dark when I arrived back at Kidbrooke station, and the Christmas tree was all lit up. The trains aren't running today, nor are the bus lines, but I'm enjoying a quiet day at home with the intoxicated kitties. Tomorrow, it's back to work - I need to get as much done as possible while I have a reliable internet connection, before heading north.

But tonight, it's the Downton Abbey Christmas special!
Happy holidays to you all.

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