I went into Muswell Hill this afternoon to develop my photos for the year. I've recently started a tradition where I print out a year's photos in one go and spend a pleasurably nostalgic day appraising the past years whilst sticking them into an album. I remembered, as I walked through a misty Highgate Woods, that I'd forgotten to prepare any of the pictures I've taken on my mobile phone for printing, so was forced to go through a lengthy process where I emailed the pics I wanted to my laptop, and then transferred them onto a memory stick. It was frustrating and it seemed to take forever. My lap top kept crashing and freezing. The time was ticking past.
I have to say, I find myself entirely unprepared for Christmas. I don't know why we put ourselves through the rigmarole of buying all these presents for each other that we're pretty sure are crummy and pointless. The guy next to me in the cafe was trying to order stuff on Amazon and was angrily stabbing at the computer, huffing and sighing every time something went wrong or he was asked to enter the long number on his credit card... yet again. I completely understood his frustration. I had my own melt down online yesterday when I received a shedload of emails telling me I'd mistakenly paid for everything with an old card.
There's a fabulous shop in Muswell Hill called W Martyn which has been in the same place since the Broadway shops were built in the late 19th Century. They roast coffee in the window and clouds of beautiful-scented smoke billow out into the street. They specialise in wonderful marmalades and chutneys and it's a pleasure to browse about in there.
Muswell Hill in general was putting on a very strong Christmassy display today. The place was full, but not unpleasantly so, there was a band playing carols and a lovely little street market was selling produce from France. It was a pleasure to simply drift about in the misty air.
This evening I made a somewhat last-minute decision to go to the NYMT Christmas carol concert, and found myself feeling ever so pleased that I'd made the effort. The concert, for the last few years, has been happening at the glorious church of St John's in the middle of Smith's Square, which is just around the corner from the Palace of Westminster. I'm not sure why, but I always tend to associate that little corner of London with Mrs Dalloway. I think perhaps she's meant to have lived in that sort of area. Or maybe I've imagined that to be the case. Is anyone reading this blog familiar enough with that book to know whether I'm talking rubbish?
Anyway, it was a lovely concert. A really nice balance between interesting readings (including Benjamin Zephaniah and e e cummings), some stonking brass music (played almost exclusively by players from the pit orchestra of Brass) and some beautiful settings of traditional carols, some of which were arranged by our illustrious leader, Jeremy Walker. There were surprisingly few Brassers in the massed choir. Laura, Anna, Frankie, Ben, Oscar, Harry and boy Robin seemed to be the sum total, which was disappointing, but it was lovely to see them all, and we had a drink in the pub afterwards with Ben's mum and the charming Stuart Matthew Price, who has been commissioned to write next year's new NYMT show. He sang a very moving Christmas song at the concert which he dedicated to his mum. He has a wonderful voice, which isn't really surprising. He's probably better known as a performer than he is as a writer.