Back in 2019 BC (that being ‘before covid’) I wrote a blog encouraging all of us to keep our Christmas lights on for all round cheer. The idea being, that stuffing the odd empty jam jar with a twisted wire of illuminated LEDs might go some way towards lightening our mood in the post-Christmas gloom especially given, in hindsight, what lay ahead.
As if the subsequent two years weren’t gloomy and dismal enough, now we are sinking in the mire of the energy crisis. Some of us old enough (just!) who remember the seventies can hardly fathom at the familiar stream of strikes and dissent among the workers of this country. They’ve even nicked the catchy ‘Winter of Discontent’ tagline and the media are rehashing it just to drive the message home with added dose of depression.
But while my memories of miner strikes and regular blackouts are bathed in that warm sepia hue and orange flock wallpaper only seen in the fading ‘Snappy Snaps’ of the era (‘Google it kids’) … this time, there’s no luke warm fish ‘n chip suppers or family fun board games round perilous non retardant candles to offset the wretchedness. It appears that The Grinch got grimmer and greener too…those who are dishing the doom, really have no concept of the plight of the average person because they are sure to enjoy a six-figure salary. Unlike the 70’s there seems to be no politician of any verve or vigour to offer a morsel of hope that the situation will be resolved without increasing financial pain or even worse. We had a few ‘shouty’ MPs back then. You may not have agreed with their politics, but you couldn’t deny their heart or depth of feeling. And we had ‘Slade’ … Noddy and the lads were bouncing off our TV screens in mirrored hats and wholly non environmentally friendly tinsel…screaming from the screen for the very first second and third time with fun and joy alongside the equally festive Wizard. Roy Wood actually resembled a magical Tolkien-esque creature all year round … not just for Christmas. My point being … there was a counterbalance and a real sense of Christmas hope.
And now … the lights are all out and the comfort of our gas central heating is, it seems a luxury.
Once upon a year ago … if sleep eluded, one could at least arise from a warm bed at 2am, pad softly to the kitchen and enjoy an enticing and surreptitious hot chocolate, barefoot on the lino, still warm from our whirring fan ovens. Alas, no more. A midnight gaze down the street brings only darkness. No damp and misted saffron window or glimmering Christmas fairy light even offers a morsel of Dickensian magic to sooth our anxious hearts and lull us back to restful slumber. Killed off by this crisis, we can only cling to our hot water bottles, once scoffed at as being the bastion of the very elderly but now elevated to a necessary accessory, along with our M&S thermals and Christmas bed socks. We are, but a whiff away from wearing a ‘Wee Willie Winky’ hat just like dear old Scrooge himself. For goodness sake, invest in some Duracell multi-packs and tangle as many delicately wired LEDs, that you can around the home. Twist them into the house plants and dangle them artistically from any shelf or mantle that you can. Huddle around the Air fryer in your fingerless gloves and croak your way through ‘The Frog Chorus’ just to remind yourself that light is life and life will be lighter again, even though times are weighing heavy.
I will leave you with this little gem from 1971…the inspiration for this little seasonal prose.
Photo By zhangzui on UnSplash