Late Life Crisis - December 2018

In my local Waitrose between Christmas and New Year I found at least 100 unclaimed bottles of Prosecco. Now having participated in the occasional unlimited fizz brunch (I blame my children for this), it would be hypocritical of me to carp, but dentists must be rubbing their hands with even greater glee than usual at the thought of New Year appointments.


A highlight of Christmas was the Carol Concert at St Paul's Cathedral in support of the Alzheimer's Society. Seated in the South Transept with a view up into the Dome was good enough, but there was glorious singing, well-balanced readings, and metronomically accurate organisation. Carey Mulligan, hosting, cut out of any formal script to talk movingly about an elderly relation who suffered from dementia in her final years. And I thought of my auntie, who in similar state passed away four years ago. My non-Christian companion confessed to being moved also, and despite my lack of faith these days I confess that the Church does these grand events superlatively well and that the occasions must have some strong spiritual impact for many people attending.


And in something of a contrast to St Paul's, just before Christmas I got to see the musical Hadestown at the National Theatre - brilliant. In a show of smug metropolitan elitism I can say don't bother trying to book, as it is sold out for the rest of the run. But it will be back, and when it is, go and see it if you have not done so already. However, whether in due course it will get the same critical response as for Phantom of the Opera (25th anniversary performance at Royal Albert Hall shown again on Boxing Day telly), nothing can eclipse the luvvies and darlings fest at the end of that latter performance.


After my last trip to the gym before Christmas and the collapse into overindulgence, I lazily waited at a bus stop for trip home - well, it was raining heavily. There was what passes for a bench, and I had put my gym bag alongside me. An elderly gentleman, in traditional Muslim dress, approached. In guilt I pulled my bag off and invited him to have a seat. He smiled and thanked me warmly ( I know this is sounding like virtue-signalling). He had with him a magnificent traditional umbrella, wooden handle, black fabric, but with a delightful red lining. I complimented him on said unbrella, and he told me proudly that he had had it for many years and that it had never blown inside out. I respected this, as my current flimsy effort had fatally collapsed earlier in the day.

As we chatted together waiting for the bus, we talked about what the British talk about most happily, the weather. And both he and I are British. Patriotism is good, narrow nationalism is dangerous, and wherever we sit in society, if we allow Little Englander mentality to prosper, our country will be poorer for it.


And if you have read this, Happy New Year!