It’s December 1st, the first day of winter (on this side of the planet anyway) and a mere 24 sleeps from the Big Day. The temperature this week has really dropped: it was a brisk -1C when I was standing at the bus stop yesterday morning. I have some present wrapping and a little prep for next week’s work Christmas do (at the Banqueting House in Whitehall no less) on my to-do list today. And to my absolute delight, this month’s Violent Veg gives a big festive nod to one of my favourite Christmas traditions, carolling.
Seattle-A was in town on Thursday night (it was like a surprise early Christmas present when I got her text message this week) and as I made my way through Richmond train station to meet her, I saw my first set of carol singers for the season. A big group of kids, all rugged up in their vibrant winter woollies, braved the chill to fill the space with joyful tunes and I snatched a brief moment to stand on the stairs and enjoy a little of their festive spirit.
It took me back to Christmasses in Oz where opportunities to belt out a few yuletide tunes seemed to be around every corner, where the point was to join in rather than what you sounded like – probably just as well in my case. This was never about show-pony-ing (I’ve never been a Karaoke fan) but about sharing a bit of Christmas spirit with a disparate group of people who, in embracing the anonymity provided by the crowd, sang simply because they could.
I particularly remember bouts of Brownie carolling as a youngster in Brisbane in the 70s and another hot sticky evening somewhere in country Victoria in my early twenties, grown-ups and kids alike sprawled on picnic rugs under the riverside gum trees and a community band playing in the background while everyone sang their hearts out.
And in any of my excited witterings about Christmas (and particularly with Christmas Down Under in my sights), I cannot omit one of Melbourne’s most wonderful institutions, Carols by Candlelight, a televised open air concert held at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl every Christmas Eve. I watched this on telly for many years and finally found myself singing along on the grassy slopes under the stars nine years ago just before I moved to London.
These every-man-sings opportunities don’t seem to abound in the same way in Old London Town. There are many chances to sit and listen – from The Hallelujah Chorus at St Martin in the Fields and the Christmas Festival at The Albert Hall right through to a myriad of local community events but it seems that spirited audience participation is hard to come by. And as I stood amongst the swirling commuting masses on the stairs on Thursday night, watching those bright young faces, I realised that I missed this little piece of Christmas Past.
So that’s another thing to add to the festive to-do list before the fat man in the red suit comes to town. But I’ve been a good girl (no really I have) and have already ticked one thing off the list this morning…
I do so love Christmas. Only 24 sleeps to go people…I’m excited!
This post also completes Gidday from the UK’s Five A Day series for 2012: 12 posts containing both a whole range of random themes inspired by my merely turning the page each month and the laugh out loud cleverness of my Gidday Guest Stars, the vitamin-rich team from Violent Veg. The back catalogue is below for any of you that missed any…I hoped you’ve enjoyed it.