Mr Coward rehearsing his broadcast. London, 1937
Today I received an email from Brooks Brothers that in its subject line said Happy Holiday Wishes from Our Family to Yours. Well, thank you, guys! Two days ago I said I was over Christmas already because of the commercialism but yesterday it worked its way, uninvited, into my post so clearly Christmas is not done with me.
I've been looking for images of Christmas and mid-winter that mean something to me. I'm from a place where in mid-winter the daylight, if one can call it such, fails just before four in the afternoon so trees and tinsel glinting in the bright sunshine of the South has little resonance with me. But, we all celebrate our festivals in our own ways and so should it be. We, both of us from cold and frequently dark places, usually celebrate Christmas in New York (the weather fits) and have Christmas dinner with friends in New Jersey who go so far back to my childhood they have become a second family to us. Waiting in the hotel lobby then being driven across the Hudson, all the way catching up with the year gone by, has become such a pleasurable part of Christmas - almost Dickensian in its sentimentality and warmth.
The drawing above is one of a series called The Anglo Files done for World of Interiors in 1999 by the French illustrator Floc'h. These drawings are set in legendary times, the Thirties, Forties and Fifties - legendary, at least, for those who look back at the era with nostalgia. It's a Wodehousian view that takes no account of the Great Depression yet lovingly illustrates the so-called eccentricity of upper-crust Britons and the quirky bravery of the Blitz.