Happy Christmas from the Streets of London.

Blogging has taken rather a back seat this year as other, sometimes less important but more present things took priority. A situation I hope to resolve in the coming year. Today, in very different ways, I was spurred on to return by an old school friend and a new Australian friend.

There are many great, varied and beautiful cities around the world. I have been fortunate to visit many of them and hope to visit more in the coming years. There are perhaps fewer truly global cities, that somehow feel connected to or part of our humanity. For me, one of those cities is London. Perhaps, one of three or four similar world cities we aspire to visit, imagine living in and at some level feel we have a shared history and connection.

In the past year, I have spent roughly half my time in south London (in what some might suggest is the wrong side of the river) and have seen the place often with new eyes. Much of the time, this happens while walking Taz in the local parks. Today was similar, as I took that time to catch up on social media posts. The first confirmed I had missed out on some prestigious local blogging award (the Morties) – mainly due to the fact my posts had dried up in the middle of last year. The second was from a facebook friend in Australia (Paul) who posted about the potential loneliness many experience at this time.

Whilst it isn’t news that many people find Christmas challenging and as artificial as many Christmas trees, his specific examples gave me pause for thought. I have often wondered if there isn’t a darker side to some Christmas celebrations. Do some people need to know others are enjoying less or are simply excluded in order to enjoy their time more or at all?

Christmas for me has always been a bittersweet occasion. I remember the excitement of being given the bike that replaced one I had outgrown and the magic of my first true white Christmas. Then just prior to Christmas in 1973, my father died and the feel of Christmas from that point on had changed. Some things, no matter how hard a child wishes, cannot be replaced.

One of the few things I can remember from that year was a news programme showing an office block being used by the homeless over Christmas. I’m sure I didn’t understand the importance of this development at the time. This was the birth of Crisis at Christmas and the charity is, regrettably, still going strong forty years later. What so few people appreciate is just how easily we could swap places with any number of those seeking shelter in the Crisis centers.

The video above marries Ralf McTell’s 1960’s original with the Crisis choir (also featuring Annie Lennox) of 2017. Such a beautiful sound and an entirely unremarkable group forming the choir – all homeless and each could very easily replace their photograph with ours.

Returning to Paul’s comments from Australia, I found myself thinking of those who become invisible to others and society in general. Perhaps none more so than those we write off as probably drunk, high, mentally ill or too challenged to cope with the real world.

This year as for the last four, I haven’t sent Christmas cards but have made a donation – to a charity that can make a difference to lives. Although it isn’t my usual charity, this year will I will be supporting the Crisis at Christmas team. May the need for their work be short lived and I for one will try to see the person not their situation just a little more often. From a warm, dry, happy and safe home, I wish everyone a very Happy Christmas. For those who for whatever reason, cannot enjoy this Christmas as they would like, I hope 2018 brings you what you would wish yourself.


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