The night before…..

There’s little doubt that this has been a pretty shit year. However, when it is compared to other pretty shit years in history it won’t win because in the scheme of things it could be a lot worse: for instance, if you think living in London in 2020 must have been tough just imagine living through the great plague of 1665 but then getting to New Year’s Day buboe free and thinking “well, there’s no way 1666 can be any worse than that unless the whole fucking city burns down”. Perspective is a very fine thing when used wisely, and so we must make some effort to do so. A couple of days ago it looked as if Britain was being sealed off from the rest of the world just like one of those plague victims, but now things are slowly starting to look up. Dover might be in gridlock but that will hardly make it much less of an attractive place to live, and there even seems to be a chance that we may get some kind of EU deal and for a Remainer like me that will be quite an uplifting Christmas present. Leave voters don’t get to pass comment on deals and blockades because they got us into this mess in the first place.

I’m not the only person who’s been reflecting. Charles and Camilla have spent some dark evenings reflecting on the terrible time being had by all those adulation bereft actors out there and have duly recorded a video of “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas”, featuring their royal selves and a small army of pouting, breathless luvvies in a montage that will bring your turkey and sprouts back up faster than you can say “people’s princess”. Joining them are a list of the usual brown-nosing suspects: Joanna Lumley (who else?), Daniel Craig (because his Bond exit has failed so spectacularly), Maggie Smith (that’s who else), Tom Bloody Hardy (who now no longer knows precisely who he is and so is cursed to act like someone else forever, whether he’s supposed to be acting or not), Penelope Keith (chucked in to represent the working class, one presumes), Judi Double Bloody Dench (who just can’t help being in every luvvie love-in event imaginable, sealing her status as the female Stephen Fry) and, of course, because all the others are so obvious and so obviously white, Ncuti Gatwa (who parents of the young children at which this video is surely aimed will be delighted to know is famous for his role in the adult comedy-drama ‘Sex Education’. I can’t think of a lazier or less appropriate effort to attempt diversity all year. Silly old Charlie.

Anyway, I suppose it must make more sense for Prince Charles to concoct a limp charity video for the Actors’ Benevolent Fund than for himself and some of the very rich actors he knows to donate some money instead. And I suppose many people with very low expectations and standards will find some form of light entertainment in a video like this; and so their yule fire will glow that much warmer with such gratuitous, spectacular, shallow folly as fuel. Because other than that such gestures are a drop of rain in an ocean of piss and fear and worry. Some people will now wake up on Boxing Day to find themselves plonked firmly in Tier 4; but don’t worry, you can satisfy yourself with the knowledge that you never had a choice and there will soon be even more joining you. I wonder what tier Charles and Camilla are in. There was some misjudged winter stroll the other day with various thick, royal bubbles being thoughtlessly popped and it made me think that perhaps the royal family can just do as they please; let’s see if a few of them will shuffle along to that church near Balmoral tomorrow, with the exception of Philip, who will stay at home as part of his permanent “as a precaution” status.

I sound bitter but should try to shake it off otherwise it will be a miserable Christmas and Wifey simply won’t allow that. She is baking biscuits and listening to Gregory Isaacs (très Noël) while I am tucked up in the loft writing this cluster of nothings. I have come to the conclusion that starting Christmas early this year was a big mistake: the tree arrived at our house before December did. What is always an overload has become an overload of an overload but I’m sure I’ll find the right spirit just in time. Yesterday morning we went to pick up “the meat”; a selection of dead animal parts prepared at our local farm shop. Wifey insisted she accompany me for “support” and at 7.48am, as I stood in the dark, on my own, in an inch-deep carpet of diluted cow shit waiting for the doors to open I thought of her waiting in the warm car and I found that support to be most welcome. The outcome is that to go with the vegetable orgy assembled at the back door we now have a fridge heaving with flesh and fat – a vast, muscular chicken, a dirty joint of beef, four Barnsley lamb chops (well, two now), roughly half a pigs worth of bacon and sausages and some diced lamb (presumably added to the order in case we ran out of other carcass) and all of that to feed two for a few days over Christmas. You might think I would feel guilty for such glutton but I doubt it because I’ll be feeling too ill to feel guilty once all that has worked its way through me.

On top of the food I have decided we will drink only the finest beverages this year; no holding back and saving the best wines for another time, or relying on the cheap gin; we’ll keep that for guests, should we ever be allowed them again. We shall consume this Christmas as if it were our last, because like The Great Fire of London you never really know what’s coming round the corner. For those who have their fingers crossed well genuinely good for them. Even I have no reason to believe that we can’t drag ourselves through this dense, thorny hedgerow of a crisis and emerge the other side bedraggled yet triumphant, but given that any such outcome relies on the collected will and intelligence of the human race it might be an idea to admit that nothing is a dead cert. Let us take each day at a time, starting with Christmas Eve, and hope that if we are already friends then this shall always be. That said, if you find a dull chore and even occasionally mildly offensive then that is a problem all of your own and perhaps I could suggest watching Prince Charles’ video as an alternative; you’ll soon come scurrying back. Merry Covid Christmas and may the love of our lord Jesus Christ be with you, for lo, on that night in Bethlehem he didn’t half shit the crib.

G B Hewitt. 24.12.2020

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