So this was Christmas

xmas lights

All over London the lights were on.  The hotel in High Holborn, where Michael Jackson once stayed, was lit up in shades of green and red.

But it was raining. Outside London we heard news of flooding, power cuts, freezers warming up, Christmas dinners in jeopardy.  Emails of concern were sent to friends in Kent, Cumbria – and Chelmsford.  You never know.delays

In London, however, we kept snug and warm.  The cards were written, the presents wrapped. A threatened court hearing on the day before Christmas Eve was adjourned to be thought about another day.  More presents were wrapped.

On Christmas morning there was egg and bacon for breakfast.  Delicious.  Especially with the chocolate orange.  And a kindle.  What to read?  Currently the Waterstone blog and something from the Guardian called All the Rebel Women which is not quite as exciting as I had hoped.  After last minute tidying and discussion about when is a capon like a turkey – answer, when it’s in the oven – the Chelmsford contingent arrived with the Muswell Hill crew.  Christmas gifts were exchanged.  When lunch was on the table, crackers were pulled.  Jokes were read – some several times, not because they were good but because they just were.  When is a boat like snow?  When it’s adrift.  Christmas presence  It was home time.

Boxing Day brought roast beef and more crackers in Highbury.  The jokes were no better and some from Christmas Day were repeated.  Not necessarily correctly.  When is a capon like a turkey?  When it’s a laughing stock cube.

And onto the pantomime.  Sleeping Beauty at the Park theatre.

Pantomime Who knows about the Park theatre?  People you mention it to say – Oh, how interesting.  Where is it?  The answer is two spits from Finsbury Park station, the Wells Terrace end.  A bar, with coffee, snacks, wine, beer, a lift, friendly people.  And what a fun pantomime – oh yes it was!

To avoid the threat of needles on spinning wheels, Sleeping Beauty lived in a land of soft fabrics.  At the interval safety flannels came down. But the handsome prince lived in a treacherous world of embroidered quilts and haberdashery.  There was singing, shouting, audience participation (for small people), the triumph of true love and we came home with free sweets.   Oh yes we did.


stylus stories

Vinyl.  Was there ever such a word to bring a smile to your lips?  In the back room of a pub in Hornsey High Street people of a certain age gather to play records from their youth and tell stories of the concert, the love affair, the shop which started it all.  I took an Alan Price LP which I bought in France in the 70s, but the track I chose on Saturday, ‘I Put a Spell on You’, came out as a single in 1966.   Almost any track that featured the electric organ was a hit in the Orpheus, the mods’ coffee bar in Chelmsford, but the opening notes of ‘I Put a Spell on You’ had a special haunting quality that made conversation fall away and stilled the clatter of cups on saucers.  And in the Railway Tavern, you tell your story and then sit in the leather chair as Dansette Dave plays the track.  And again, the room was captivated by the sound.  And last Saturday, people who told a story received a gift from Santa’s sack.  Mine was a Neil Diamond LP, the first I have ever owned.

And then on Tuesday, stories of a different kind in Store Street.  I was speaking at a Haldane Society seminar on ‘How to Be a Feminist Barrister,’ with Alison Diduck an academic from University College London.  It was a truly uplifting evening, the room was full of young people, mainly women, mainly law students, most of whom according to my straw poll, identified as feminists.  The thing therefore was to give them tips – work for women, work with women, use your skills to make the world better for women.  They all seemed up for that.

Store Street