It’s Boxing Day 2021 and, suffering severe cold symptoms and more, I took the lateral flow test for Covid.
It had been a good week. Our Christmases of the past were great, really great. The family flocked to our house in the Cotswolds where we ate and drank a lot, but also in my battle to make Christmas special I wrote a special play, organised games, performed some simple magic tricks, organised a family quiz and so on. One year we actually held a farting competition around a special pole which had to be gripped whilst performing. I can’t remember who won – because that was not the point of any of this stuff. It was all about making Christmas special and participatory - the television was solidly off.
But that was all in the past. Nowadays the children are dotted around the world and have their own Christmases to organise, and we are alone in this many-bedroomed house in the Cotswolds. What’s more I wasn’t too well.
The build up had been great though. Singing around the piano in an Oxford pub, a day’s walking with a good friend followed by many satisfying real ales, a small party for Oxford neighbours after we all took Covid tests. Then a wander around the Oxford pubs finishing at my local. And finally, more music and even dancing in a couple of bars in Stow on the Wold. Yes, we were triple jabbed and carefree. I was so busy I had to curtail my usual pre-Christmas fast.
Cold symptoms came on a few days before Christmas and by the Eve of that great celebration (which is also my wife’s birthday) I was not firing on all cylinders, or, to be more up-to-date, some of my fuel cells were flagging. On the day itself I felt pretty rotten and, though we had a fine meal and played a few rounds of Nine Men’s Morris (a new game to me), it was mostly a sedentary day terminated by watching an excellent film called Once. Not at all like Christmases past.