Christmas has arrived in London Town, and what a stench of vulgarity it brings with it. You can't move without being reminded of it. Even my beloved Govinda's Restaurant, where the food is made with love and joy by the Hare Krishna devotees, have decided to spray their windows with that horrible fake snow. Now I know Krishna is a cheeky chap - and I love him for it - but I can't quite imagine him ever tooting 'Frosty the Snowman' down his flute in December. Lest we ever forget: we are living in the material world.
No. My only respite from Santa, Slade and Frosty the Snowman seems to be found only when pressed against the warm bosom of the bar of my local - the Pineapple Pub - where not even a sprig of mistletoe can be seen. I give thanks for that. There's not a single person in that pub who you'd want to be kissed by on a wet night in winter. Most of them tend to smoke Drum and sip real ale.
Honestly. I've really had it with Christmas. How I'll get myself through the next week or so is simply a mystery. Wait. No, it isn't. I'll be on a flight to Berlin in a few days, where I will adventure until the 24th. It should be a distraction. I've never been before and wherever I go in the world everyone is talking about it. I'll try to stay out of trouble and my pal - the photographer Grace Gelder - will see to it that I eat three meals a day and wrap up warm. I've just been told that Berlin falls well into the sub zeros in December. I can't quite see myself enjoying a new city with my balls frozen at minus twenty degrees. But with Grace along for the ride we might get a nice snapshot of them at least. Frozenballs. What a fantastic nickname.
I was thinking the other day - and I know it's a long shot - that I'd like to meet a person who's lived through Nazism, communism and capitalism. What a living history they'd be. A goldmine of wisdom and experience. Either that or a bit of a miserable bastard, and you couldn't blame them for it. A wise elder. Is that too much to ask Santa? Failing that, I'd quite like to go out for the evening with the German Chancellor herself. Now there's a lady who's had a tough year. Given that my depth of understanding of European economics is on a par with that of a goldfish, perhaps she could sit me down over dinner for two and tell me all about it. I reckon she could use a night out.
So. What do you say to dinner, Angela? Don't worry, we don't have to go anywhere Greek. I know how you feel. And we can't go to an Italian. How could we be sure that Silvio won't spoil our evening by getting his job back as front-of-house manager? I can't imagine a bunga bunga pudding would go down terribly well after a several courses of corruption, vanity, delusion and greed. Can you? No. We'll play it safe and go native. Fischers Fritz - so they tell me - is the prime location for powerful people. I'll pay, if you book the table for us in your name. They'd never give me a table at such short notice. In fact they probably wouldn't give me a table at all. Yes, you tell me all there is to know about economics over dinner and I will tell you all you need to know about light entertainment, blogging and depression. We shall eat, learn and laugh together. Deal?
Afterwards, we could go on to drink at Die Weinerei, where we can 'rent a glass' for €2 and drink as much wine as we can handle at no extra cost. I'm loving this city already. It's an interesting concept: respect is the hallmark of Die Weinerei. Moral sense of duty is restored and preserved and customers often leave the place giving much more in tips than they would if they'd bought the bloody stuff by the glass. Let's do that. But let us not discuss politics and ruin the moment. Especially let's not talk about British politics. Don't ask me my thoughts on Dave, George and Boris. They are the antithesis of the Three Wise Men. The very thought of them could turn my wine into vinegar at a ferocious speed. By this point in the evening, sozzled with wine, perhaps I might get away with calling you Mutti?
Now, I know you'll have to work in the morning so you mustn't stay out too late, but I think we should at least have a dance before we go our separate ways. I've been googling away and I've found a place just by the river and it's aptly named: Club der Visionäre. Do you like Techno? Well, me neither. I got into it for a summer in my twenties and the less said about my twenties the better. If by chance it all gets too much for us, as I think it might, we can step outside and get some fresh air on one of the club's floating docks upon the water. And with you at the helm, Mutti, I just know the ship won't be sinking.
Snapping me back to reality here in London, a friend has just texted me from the West End, telling me that the traditional Christmas lights along Oxford Street appear to be one giant promotional campaign for Marmite. It's all too much. If this is true then I can't think of a better product to tie in with a season one either loves or hates. Yes, Christmas has arrived in London Town. And what a stench of vulgarity it brings with it.