Term finishes this week, and for once I’ll be glad of a break – going out to teach after a day of childcare has become a bit unappealing as the dark has hunched in. The only work I’ll have for the next month is the very pleasant task of judging the South Bank Poetry Magazine competition– if you have any London poems the deadline is December the 4th, so there’s still time to enter.
I’m looking forward to the party season. Last year I really coped very badly with not drinking. The rest of the nine months I just went out to the cinema or for nice lunches instead, but Christmas is all about sitting round a table with people for twelve hour stretches whilst they slowly get sozzled. It felt as though they were all moving into some splendid golden place full of soft light, whilst I stood out in the cold with my face pressed to the window, like Heathcliff at Thrushcross Grange. This year there will be port, sherry, champagne, cheap imitation Baileys and my dad’s favourite Barolo to toast his memory on Christmas Day. Yesterday started the festivities – I put on my new party dress, painted my nails for the first time since spring (mint green), and met friends I hadn’t seen for ages for cocktails at Lounge Bohemia. I drank an amazing Gypsytini, with rosemary, prune and honey, and then a Full Canadian – whisky infused with maple syrup served over blueberry ice cubes with BACON SCRATCHINGS. I know, a cocktail with bacon.
And in case I’m sounding borderline alcoholic, I’m looking forward to other things too. For a decade I have been working my way through Dickens by reading one of his novels in front of the fire every Advent, and this year have downloaded The Old Curiosity Shop to my kindle in readiness. And on Thursday I’m doing a festive reading for Faber in Bloomsbury, with Daljit Nagra, Wendy Cope, music and mincepies (there still seem to be tickets if you fancy it). Plus, you know, family, robins in the garden, Bill Murray in Scrooged, the possibility of snow etc. And I’m going to take a holiday from social media, so I’ll use this opportunity to wish you all a very merry time too.