Wait until next year

Putting off what could be done tomorrow, today

13th December

The snow is still here from yesterday.

Goal in snowy park, trees behind it

It is enough snow to close some schools, but not others. The kind of snow a seasoned winter-ist would scoff at – just a dusting!

The kind of snow that gives a phone-in radio host the excuse to exclaim “Why can’t we cope with a bit of snow, the rest of the world can?” The kind of peculiar, contradictory exceptionalism where he sees his country as simultaneously both The Greatest Country In The World and The Worst Country In The World.

Bench in front of trees on snowy day

The pavements aren’t too slippery, but the snow still slows everything down. Careful, careful. It slows everything down at a time when we’re all trying to get stuff done, before the holidays, before the real slow time.

There is a wonderful uncanny light, as the whiteness of the snow bounces back into the sky. Everything looks a little off, in an intriguing, enticing way. Blues, greys, whites, play off one another. There is a stillness, quietness too.

Woodland on snowy day, blue-grey sky above

Some trees hold the snow, others sag from it. They are all immeasurably beautiful.

7th December

After-work drinks, and I think the first of those in about three years. I had foolishly expected the bar to be quieter, and the busyness made me feel like I was stepping into my past. I feel a bit old for all this. I now prefer places quieter, less frantic.

Tree lit by streetlights

The barman is a whirlwind, serving three people at once, glasses criss-crossing, taps pulled down and up in intricate sequences, card machines presented and withdrawn in one movement.

There’s a customer at the bar who is the fall guy for his group. He calls out his order to the barman. And as the barman presents the first drink the customer has one of his party in his ear, and he adds to his order. The next drink comes. The customer has been prompted to add again. Drink placed down. And again. Drink down. And again. He pays up. A word in his ear Then he asks for more. Pays up again. Can I now have a receipt? The barman takes a deep breath.

Old building brightly lit inside

I’m next and I try to make my request as succinct and clear as possible. The barman looks pleased. “Finally, someone know how to order their drinks!” It’s a proud moment – I haven’t lost it!

I walk through London, make my way home. It is dark, but it is not late. I make my way past the old buildings where great writers and thinkers once lived. Now these buildings are offices, or university space. The strip-lighting that illuminates their windows gives them away.

Accommodation above tube station

I have also struggled with the idea that people actually live in Central London. It is unfathomable to me. It has always been a place to go to, to shop or work, not to live. But obviously many people do. I see that people live above the tube station. That seems particularly surreal. Settling at a place of movement.

There’s nowhere to buy a newspaper anymore. The train takes me home.

6th December

On the usual walk I notice that the wild kniphofia are flowering.

Close-up of kniphofia

I’m not sure if “wild” is the right word, but they pop up each winter in the corner of a patch of grass outside the bakery. Each year I wonder about their history. How did they get there? Was there once a bigger display of plants, with bedding punctuating the grass? As it is in a far, shady corner did someone working at the bakery quietly decide to plant them one day to brighten up their workplace? Did a passerby abandon them? Whatever their story, they persevere each year, and are thankfully left by whoever mows the lawn they sit within.

Kniphofia by wall

The oranges and yellows feel exceptionally exotic, especially in a dark corner, on a busy road, on a very cold day. And in their way these beacons have a far deeper, profound effect than a more classic gardening display. They bring life to somewhere that lacks it, and at a time of year when we need that most. A small wonder of nature.

Kniphofia from a distance, grass in front, buildings behind

2nd December

I go for my first run in a month, my first run after doing a whole lot of running.


It is curious how quickly I fall into autopilot. I find myself on the same roads I usually run, even when I’ve plotted a different route. I’ve reached a level of fitness where there are at least some moments where I don’t have to urge myself to continue, instead it just happens. I enjoy this emptiness. Running works for me as an escape from the incessant, internal noise. It is an escape from myself.

Three leaves on pavement

Amid the emptiness I fail to notice the details as I pass, even though I know each home has a tale to tell, each road a history to hold. I look down, see three tiny fallen leaves. It is near the end of my run and the world is returning to me.

Dark clouds with sunlight below

The rain starts in a half-hearted way. The late sunlight creeps in underneath the dark clouds. It is beautiful, and fleeting.

Home and the promise of fish and chips for tea.

1st December

The morning radio is playing all the good Christmas songs.

Trees and a blue sky

“Look to the future now, it’s only just begun” – the kind of pop lyric that perhaps looks a little clichéd typed out, but like all good clichés has an underlying truth to it. The first day of December feels like the start of something. We are surrounded by endings, but it is important to recognise there are still plenty of beginnings to come. December as a month of celebration, reflection, but also of some kind of hope.

The light outside isn’t quite wintery yet, but it is crisp and bright and welcoming. The trees still cling to some of their leaves. And those leaves are lit by the morning sun into a sharp focus. The shadows are sharp, and cold.

A full, yellow skip in the road

I pass a removals van, a skip, building works. I stop for a passing hearse. Go to the bakers, it isn’t too busy. A few doors down Christmas trees are for sale. At home the decorations are a work in progress.

The afternoon looks a lot like night time. A bricklayer works by flashlight. The roads are busy and I imagine the trail of car lights punctuating the dark are fairy lights.

A trail of cars at night time