I’m Nightmaring of a White Christmas

Although the official records will say that bookmakers paid out on a ‘white Christmas’ in London in 1999 and 1996 (the technical definition being a snowflake falling on the London Weather Centre on that day) the last proper blanketing of snow on Christmas Day was apparently in 1895, which is right back in the picture-postcard days of gas-lamps and horse-drawn carriages.

So, given that we are heading to have some pretty decent snow-cover on Christmas Day this year…

White Christmas, London, 2010

So, this, then, after all these years
is a White Christmas in London:
the reek of burning clutches
sliding buses and late parcels
snaking queues at abandoned airports
while angry trains, delayed and sniping,
lose power and freeze on lines
alongside motorways stuffed
with abandoned cars,
the empty shells of thwarted plans.

And this, then, after all these years
is where we’ve digressed from
the nostalgic postcards with
breasted robins and holly
in its Dickensian element:
where we once entered the stillness
of silent nights and
were moved only
by the nativity journey,
we now fetishise movement,
and, determined to travel
head out on naive journeys
refusing the silence and stillness
of here and now,
running after elsewhere,
grinding to brown slush
that which would, left alone
retain its clear beauty.

Creative Commons License

Stop moving, people. Localise. And enjoy.


5 responses to “I’m Nightmaring of a White Christmas”

  1. A slightly cheap shot, isn’t it? I’m hoping to be able to drive to see my family this Christmas; I don’t see that as a refusal of stillness, but as an affirmation of my relationships with them.

  2. One could argue there is family to be had right around you… but I do understand the longing for “home”.

  3. Also, this brings to mind a book written by a friend of mine, The Wisdom of Stability
    link is here: http://www.paracletepress.com/the-wisdom-of-stability.html

  4. Great poem, and even better point. I think we often forget that we do in fact choose to live apart from those we care about and love, then feel victimized when we have to drive/fly/commute great distances to see said loved ones. Something that has helped me in my life has been to regain accountability for my decisions and priorities. Are the people in my life important enough for me to factor into my decision making? Of where I choose to live and work? In my refusal to support the military-industrial complex of cheap oil and transportation? If only we could remember that we have the power to choose what is important to us, and what a unique and terrible gift it can be!

  5. It’s difficult – I’m inclined to agree with you in principle (and I like the poem a lot), and yet I will be attempting to travel home tomorrow.


    I ‘choose’ to work in London because there are not many jobs back home, at least not for graduates.
    I chose to come and live in London, because spending 2 hours getting to work and 2 hours getting home again each day began to feel rather like a shadow of a life.

    If my family lived here with me, perhaps I’d look on with confusion at the Christmas Exodus. As it is, I long to join it.

    And I think giving up on 4 hours of commute a day – the 520 journeys a year – I could be taking makes me feel a little betrayed at the idea that I might not be able to make this one, single journey.

    I do agree, we should stop treating the City like our temporary boarding-house and start talking to those around us. But being part of one community does not separate us from other ones, and if we are unfortunate enough to live far away from people we love, should we simply cut them off?