I have 19 minutes to write this if it is going up today. My blood flows slowly, as if it has been replaced by brie and baileys. I have spent the last week drunk or eating carbs or eating carbs dipped in booze (panetonne mulled wine hell yeah!!) and my brain feels like it is full of clouds, with occasional buzzing thoughts about train times and packages that need fetching from the post office. All of which is a roundabout way of saying – I am taking the easy way out today. I give you… The Christmas Tag.
1. What is your favourite Christmas movie?
The Muppets Christmas Carol. The finest seasonal film ever made bar NONE. Also, Kind Hearts and Coronets, which is obviously not a Christmas film but an obscure Ealing comedy about fratricide, but we used to watch it a lot at Christmas and it is maybe my favourite film ever.
2. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
My Dad and I are both big into delayed gratification, so in my house not only are the presents opene on Christmas morning, but we shower and have breakfast first (breakfast is always pain au chocolat and bucks fizz). I like presents more than I like things really because they are infused with an aura of magic.
3. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
Opening my eyes and seeing a stocking full of presents and that thrill of it, every time. There was also one year we spent in Oxford and went to one of my favourite pubs on Christmas Day and we got a sofa in a room with an open fire and on the way back it was so cold we saw a bike entirely encased in ice… And and one year when I was really little (maybe 4?) my Mum had kept one present back until the afternoon and sprang an amazing doll in a moses basket on me unexpectedly after lunch and I remember just losing my shit because I’d already had such and awesome day AND THEN THERE WAS MORE???
4. Favourite festive food?
I appreciate that a) it isn’t a food and b) it’s available all year round, but I only allow myself to buy bottles of Baileys at Christmas and it is my favourite thing ever.
5. Favourite Christmas Gift?
Probably that doll! Nowadays my favourite presents are always books. Oh, though this year I did get an Oxford University Quidditch Club hoodie and I love it to bits.
6. Favourite Christmas scent?
When I was in my early teens we went on a river cruise of the Rhineland to see the Christmas markets and everything had this very very distinctive smell – cinnamonny, with something else mixed in. We found an essential oil that smelled just like it and to me that really smells like Christmas.
7. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?
Yes actually I really do, and they have been evolving fast over the last few years. Now my Mum helps run a theatre back in Beverley, she does Duty Managing while me, my Dad and my friend Frances watch it. We always bump into EVERYBODY and even though I only go back a couple of times a year now, Beverley still feels like home because of stuff like this. This year it’s Oliver Twist and Nancy is played by someone I went to acting classes with when I was a kid, which makes me feel… I don’t know. The way small towns make you feel. Safe, maybe? Even though that’s a bit weird. Then we all go back to mine for venison stew, cooked by Mum, and me and Frances exchange presents and go to the pub with other home friends. At midnight I go to the midnight church service with Mum on the way home (even though we are both atheists – it’s Christmas <3).
8. What tops your tree?
My tree in Oxford – a star we picked up last year. Back in Beverley a lovely tatty angel we’ve had forever. I think she lost her wings in about 1998.
9. As a kid, what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?
A PONY A PONY PLEASE CAN I HAVE A PONY PLEEEEEEEEEASE?!? Oh. A rocking horse, then?
10. Whats the best part about Christmas for you?
I love that for a couple of weeks normal rules are suspended and we act like the world is as we want it to be rather than as it is. We say that helping each other and spending time with family and fun and reading and watching and eating things we love are our top priorities for a week or so. Everyone tries to relentlessly see the best in everything, and that makes things better, somehow. It would be nice if we could keep it up all year, but I know we can’t. January comes with its bitter winds and self improvement drives and tax returns and the magic dissipates. But for a little while there is a collective effort to make everything as bright as it can be and I love that.