Number of days in London: six
Number of minutes sun has been seen: zero
That apart it has been a terrific Christmas, as indeed was the run up to it. I signed off from Barcelona in Bacchanalian style, with two rescheduled meals concatenating into the same day barely separated by a couple of hours in the recovery room.
The first one - the now ‘annual’ Christmas lunch with my friends from the Catalan Ministry of Education – was particularly special – held in a tiny, crowded neighbourhood bar in the back end of Poble Nou, not one of the city’s more travelled barrios. But the food that poured out of El Porrón’s tiny mom and pop kitchen was sensational, from the oysters, kidney and liver we had to start with to the arroz bogovante – a soupy Murcian version – that was the main course. This was after I was almost taken out by a chilli, bitten right on the seed, that lurked within the octopus stew.
The drinks, Catalan style, came arse about face with red wine followed by cava and finishing off with gin and tonic. It reminded me of the Guardian’s fictitious cricketer columnist Dave Podmore who once organised a reverse gala dinner which started with the assembled party vomiting in the car park, followed by cigars and brandy and ending six hours later with canapés and cocktails.
Ah yes, Christmas. We left one tale of airport woe (South Americans seeing their Christmas home go up in dust after budget airline Air Madrid stopped flying) to another one (Heathrow shut down for three days because of fog). And it was foggy. The first we saw of Luton airport was when we touched down in the mist and the next day Ben and I crossed Hampstead Heath in truly sepulchral dense fog. It’s cleared but only to leave a uniform greyness that does London few favours.
But since then almost every minute has been sparkling, catching up with friends and family, eating various Christmas feasts or lazing around reading and watching TV. Two shows were taken in – the peerless Monty Python’s Spamalot and Mary Poppins – while Santa was more than good to me with a wonderful selection of books, CDs and best of all, the complete films of Powell and Pressburger in one box set.
We’re off on Friday to New Year in Scotland. Have a great one…