i’ve been rediscovering old bits and pieces i wrote at uni and this is what i had to say about Xmas 2005, when i was living in finsbury park, and the christamsses i had in dalston and oxford street.
it was just how it felt.
I don’t feel Christmassy yet, and with just over a week to go, what to do what to do.
Two years ago I lived on Oxford Street. It was easy to feel in the festive season then, everywhere you turned a bombarding with the trimmings of a commercial Christmas. Woken up at some God forbidden early hour by a builder or electrician employed by Westminster council to attach hanging lights from just above my window. Open the curtains to see dangling wires and bang bang bang of the hammer and drill, then Kaboom of the lights coming on and shining through each evening. Standing by the window with my high upon cloud view of the shoppers milling and pushing, the Sinner Winner man screaming, children stumbling and everywhere a sense of stressed buying and looking as the shops play records that will stay with us forever when they should have been buried. Mad World playing over and over as people discussed how it was appropriate for a song reflecting on the mess of things, should be the song we use to define a year where, we all reflected, things had been made a mess of. Woken up another morning, typically hungover, as the Salvation Army play a medley of carols, wondering if it is a really big sin to want to shoot the army of God. Look out the window one Thursday to see the brass band flanked on either side by the Israel Palestine protesters outside Marks and Spencer, free free Palestine, rahdirahdah Marks and Spencer, oh little town of Bethlehem. Spending my last night in London kissing the boy I was sleeping with as he passed out on my bed so I couldn’t get into it.
Sitting in my new room, with no view, wondering who lives in that room that looked out on Christmas and wondering if he/she sees the same sights as I once did, and was woken up so rudely. I wonder if they feel Christmassy yet. Maybe they are more concerned by Hanukkah.
Last year we lived in a dark house which we tried to brighten with fairy lights and a tree as big as me that I carried for a mile down Essex Road, which started off with festive lights in Angel and disintegrated into no one cares about this end of town dilapidation, as I moved from feeling full of festive cheer, to being broken backed and knackered from lugging the branches and needles back to our house. I put on Fred Astaire as we decorate the tree with what we had found at the pound shop, and someone bought a record of Christmas songs, which I battled over with my copy of Santa Baby. We cooked a huge meal for all our friends and I started peeling the veg at half eleven in the morning, and somehow lost out on much praise. We none of us had much money, but inspired by the song of that year, we donated what we had to the Sudan. Chris Martin droning that it is Christmas time, we had no need to be afraid, we laughed at Joss Stone (’they gotta eat, oh man, they gotta eat!’) as I said look Ms Dynamite! and we cried at the images of dying children. We had every need to be afraid in that house. The darkness was pretty encroaching as we watched the world get drowned under the huge wave and the Sudan became forgotten, whilst we all struggled to keep afloat and left the fairy lights on to keep the blackness of the rooms at bay. I stumbled around the house that was too too cold in a multitude of jumpers, yet the tree made me feel warmer. When we cooked the roast, I squatted next to the oven to absorb some of its heat.
I wonder who lives there now and how they battle the elements.
But I don’t feel Christmassy this year. On this side of Seven Sisters road, we have no lights. They stop at Hornsey Road. My flatmate has lights in her room though, but I don’t seem to have made the effort. My room is pretty lacking in effort all over, been here a while now but still feel only half unpacked. I made some presents and have made all the cards, I’ve been to a Christmas party where they had a tree, I’ve even resurrected my copy of Santa Baby. Maybe it is the lack of a song – what is the Christmas song this year? Rumours are it is the Crazy Frog, oh yes, he is back. Maybe it is because what really defined this year was the presence of that odd looking entity and his blurred penis. What, with bombs and war and the election.
What is the deal with Christmas this year anyway? Apparently it is a forbidden word. But no one has made clear to me why or what the appropriate replacement is, so excuse me if I over use it.
I asked my friend who never feels Christmassy if he did this year. I thought maybe we had swapped roles, and he was pulling the crackers as I moped in my small flat, wondering why the ’winter lights’ stop before they get to my stretch of the road. I swear, I felt more Christmassy in the autumn, when the shop I was working in put up their decorations. September. Middle of.
I had a flick through the TV guide to explore the treats of festive television. All yer favourites are there, Dr Zhivago (I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love with Julie Christie, she makes me misty) vying with the Wizard of Oz (watch out for the suicidal munchkin) as someone dies on a soap or two. It kind of made me feel comforted. I may not feel that festive, but at least some things don’t change.
I always try and make Christmas as perfect as I can. Child of divorce rings in my ears as I remember Christmas past and the long discussion of who got to have me on Christmas day and who on New Year’s Eve, even now that I’m twenty one trying to negotiate who buys what present without finding out what is being bought because still after all these years they won’t communicate. Doing this again this year I wondered when things would change, and the static nature of the holidays stopped being so comforting.
I’m only twenty one and yet after the twentieth Christmas I already feel I have to prepare myself for the questions of why I am lonely this Christmas, as around me couples coo and kiss like damn pigeons. The single status rarely bothers me, but when your younger brother insists on asking why I still don’t have anyone, as he gives presents jointly with his lady, it is needed to grit the teeth. Too much work I mumble in reply to the self satisfied expression of contentment and the sighs of the father.
Leading up to the festive season, I’ve been sleeping with a friend of mine. I’ve had a crush on him for years, but we pretend this isn’t the truth. We pretend that it is just sex. We pretend it is just a fling. We pretend that I don’t mind him sleeping with other people, and I pretend to go and flirt with other men and women to pretend to even the score. At night I pretend it was different, then we pretend that we don’t. I don’t mind this pretending. I’m happy that it happens. It is a nice Christmas present. I make him a card and a tape. I picture how his smile will be when I give it to him, as I picture his smile when he laughs at what I say on the phone. Sometimes I feel sad, but this is the way of things. It just doesn’t aid creating a Christmassy mood. Like all holidays, the Christmas one is aided by coupledom and money. Not sitting in a half unpacked room wondering where the next rent cheque is coming from, praying to the overdraft god, listening to Nina Simone. Approaching Christmas like a woman, I think, yet it breaks me like a little girl! Ha!
Go to my parents next week. They are waiting for me before they put up the tree; I always get to make the star. I’ll see my friend and angst over whether he will sleep with me again, and how to explain to the surroundings my situation. I’ll watch the ever repeated Christmas TV on a screen that doesn’t flicker and eat more food than my groaning stomach can take (I eat chocolate now, is this Christmassy?) and ache for a cigarette, dance at New Year and drunkenly reflect, as I do every year, that the next one can’t be as bad as the last one. They are never that bad, not after the one that was truly the worst and conversely, one of the best, never bad enough to warrant such reflection.
Next year I will sit in a different room, with a different set of half unpacked boxes, a different view and maybe a different proximity to lights. We might be allowed to say Christmas by then, there’ll be a good Christmas record, my divorced parents will decide between themselves who buys me what and no one will judge me.
Until then though, I go on a search to feel Christmassy.