Reading my friend Adamantixx blog on his experience of Christmases past, in which he talked of being on his own, feeling peripheral to the rest of society during the festive time, got me thinking about two Christmases that have, for me, particular memories. So, here is Christmas number one.
I had given up my home to go off onto a residential training course which was to cover many months. However, the course started in the winter and I hadn’t given any thought to Christmas holidays. It never occurred to me that I’d need to be anywhere else. The residence closed down for a fortnight. All my efforts to make arrangements fell through and I was left unsure about what I would do or where I would go. I decided to speak with a member of staff. “No problem” I was told.
That Christmas I found myself in Guildford in the county of Surrey, in a small room, just furnished with essentials and it was warm. There was no television and no radio but I was fine. I admit, I felt cast out on a limb. The main difficulty, I discovered, was catering for myself during the festive days, as there was no provision for food and there were no cooking facilities .
I took myself out for a walk early on Christmas eve, it was cold. Guildford town Christmas lights were pertly twinkling, the shops restaurants and bars were decked out in festive decorations. I Ambled along thinking about nothing in particular. Then, I got talking to a young policeman on the beat. Needless to say, our discussion turned to Christmas day. After sharing our likely experiences of this particular Christmas day to come, we made a plan.
The lads, not many of them, had no canteen facilities for Christmas day, rather like me, but they did have access to a kitchen, which I did not. The officer said that as his friend, I could be invited to visit the police section house.
The plan was that I would buy the necessary food to prepare for the number of lads on duty, (it was agreed that they would chip in with a kitty). I then gave some thought to the best way to prepare and provide a sober but appetising Christmas meal at staggered times.
The end result was a warm and unexpected pleasant meal for all of us. I was ordered to leave the washing up. It was to be a shared job later on. As the lads finished their duty stints, again, at different times, we gathered in the kitchen with its lovely warm food smells. With a radio playing Christmas tunes and carols in the background, we sat, talked, played scrabble and just enjoyed each others’ company. The lads were insistent that I should not walk back alone to my digs on that Christmas night. We arranged to meet up again in the section house on Boxing day. There were plenty of left-overs to dig into.