Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Time, Mistletoe and Wine etc.

Yes, I know, a long pause between the triumphal entries of my ride into Paris and now, and there is a very good, but rather sad, reason. I'll probably talk about it another time, but it's too personal and raw for now. 

Instead, let's talk about Christmas, well, just a little bit. It's a great time of year for broken promises, whether they be New Year Resolutions that last about as long as a snowball in Hell, or intentions to make Xmas Xtra Special This Year, ending up with everything going into meltdown. As ever.

One things I always intend to do is write a short story for Christmas, something festive or spooky or something. I haven't had much joy with doing this so far, and none this year either.
However, I've been digging through my old archives of written junk, and I discovered this little piece from December 1992, so I thought I'd share it here, as a sop to festive writing. To be honest, it's pretty miserable stuff. Oh well.

It was Christmas Eve, the time towards chucking out, the pubs heaving with beer and nicotine and revelry and sweat and the juggernaut thudding of music, when you could stand at the doorway of a bar and feel the difference between the heat within and the cold without like walls pressing against each other: It was the time to stagger off in search of any parties that might be happening, anywhere awash with alcohol. One such group of people, hot and laughing, were planning exactly this.

- Onl On!
-What,now? Wooh !
-Phil! Are you with us, you old sod?
-C'mon !
-Are you coming Phil?

Phil Bravo, drunk as the next, but his insides remaininq somehow sober, raised a hand in denial.

-Not I. No dosh.Tired. Must wait for Santa.
-Oh, come on!
-No.thanks, must wend my weary soon.
-You sure? Oh all right then.
-See you soon. Merry Christmas.

A chorus of goodnights and kisses flurried briefly, then fluttered into the road with yelps and cheers sidling along, echoing to silence, Ieaving Bravo to finish his pint. The pub emptied, the barmaid
cleaned up around him.

-C'mon now!
-Sorry. Here you go.
-Ta. Merry Christmas.
-And you.

He left, legs heavy with beer, lurching into the street, the cold clear wind scouring. Christmas.  It grew less every year, lost its weight, became insubstantial, he thought.

Times I remember, magic, wonder. Transformation. Looking at myself in a bauble on a tree, spinning the little glass orb round on its thread, my reflection rolling over it, ghostlighted. The imminence of the next day, the eager anticipation that kept me awake half the night, sent me hurtling from the bed like a dog out of the slips in the morning.....The fairy castle of lights and turrets and frosted crenellations my father made from blue card and glitter, placed by the tree every year, and I believing the magic, the sheer magic of it all.
What is it now? Another holiday, a long weekend.

Bravo entered the town's High Street and looked up its length. Christmas lights clung to the lampposts, a flotilla of lanterns and decorations harboured in the cold night, feeble in the immense blackness, the indifferent anonymity of unlit shops, the broken reflections from the puddles.

What's missing?

He tried to remember what it was, the formula or the way of seeing things that made it good, that made this time so special, so fecund with maybes and nearly theres. Faintly, faintly, from a nearby church, a high thin arc of song reached into the air, arched overhead, and just as he thought he could almost hold it, the melody disappeared into the gap between the stars.

He couldn't imagine.

The glitter and the goods heaped in the shop windows looked cheap, there'd be rain tomorrow, having to deal with the bloody relatives, the niceties of the season, then back to sodding work. All this intruded into his mind.

Where had the magic gone?

Phil Bravo, disappointed adult, staggered home, his mind on Christmas dinner, the new day’s surfeit.

Elsewhere, as Midnight moved on, some children, somewhere, half asleep, heard the possible clatter of secret hooves, a shuffling on the roof, bells maybe. And certain animals, as they dreamt, found they could speak for a while, spoke and laughed and kept the secret to themselves.
December 1992

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