When William Davies wrote in 1916 that ‘we have no time to stand and stare’, I bet he’d never been on the 17:00 Great Western Service from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads. And he certainly not on Christmas Eve. Because, as I found myself unexpectedly taking the train on a frantic hunt for my passport, it’s all I could do. Standing, because there was nowhere to sit amongst the debris of wrapping paper and empty champagne bottles, and staring at the disgusting amount of joy all around: couples stroking each other’s faces and whispering sweet nothings, husbands not bemoaning wives for once, cheeky chappies, santa-hat-adored, drunk from the Christmas party and lecherously eyeing up the backside of Debbie from Human Resources. All I could see around me were people snogging, trying to snog or crying about not snogging.
It got me thinking about why people are obsessed with having that Special Someone at Christmas. This Christmas Spirit, the one that causes shopkeepers to let you off 50p, ticket inspectors to not ask for your Student Railcard for once, is the very same thing that drives people to wildly confess their love for each other. But why now? I think the two-fold psychology that drives Christmas Lovin’ is much-like that of New Year’s: fear and inhibition-losing. The fear comes largely from the thought of being alone for this very family-orientated, more-the-merrier, invite-your-boyfriend-to-the-office-party and ‘how’s the love life’ questions at family get-togethers, aspect of Christmas. There is nothing quite like the thought of being back at home, a year on, with nothing to show for it but being a few pounds heavier, I imagine, to drive someone to confess their love for sexy suzi. The second part, the inhibition-losing aspect of being Loved-Up at Christmas, is, I think, down to a particular cocktail of spirits, Hollywood movies and the frequency of Christmas social opportunities for unburdening and unbuttoning. Christmas day might be all about carpe diem, but by the looks of things, Christmas Eve is all about carpe nocem.
So, as I was surrounded by couples old and new, I couldn’t help but feel a little, well… Soppy. I may feel bilious at the sight of another Christmas cracker and I’m probably going to punch the next person who makes me eat a mince pie, but the joy of it all got to me, so I wrote a poem. It’s dedicated to the taciturn Russian couple (photographed below) who seemed to be the only ones keeping to the premise of a Silent Night. Seasons greetings, fuckers.
You rolled the whole world into a ball,
And placed it in her clenched fist.
In the blink of an eye,
You stripped her heart of its body,
Placed in the centre of two cold hands,
To dissect, to expose.
Like a tiny bird, it flapped and squawked,
And wanted to fly, far, far away
But day by day, the heart shaped, shifted, softened,
A small centre of warmth, at the heart of darkness.
You nursed it with kindness,
Killed it with kisses,
Rocked and cradled it until it could not beat alone,
It grew in strength, the hands became warm.
Until one day it flew, into the trees,
For pure joy.
And now, high in the sky,
Two birds dance to an unknown tune.