My latest article for Planet Ivy was published here this morning, but I thought I’d put the whole thing on my blog, since I’ve been lazy lately with the Bum Diaries, so I’m cheating 🙂
Christmas in London is way better than Christmas in Australia. As an Australian about to partake in her fifth Christmas in London, I’ll admit I’m not usually this city’s biggest fan. I moan about the tube, the crowds, the customer service, the expense and yes, of course, the weather. So know this; when I say Christmas in London is better than Christmas in Australia, I’m not being funny. Like Simon Cowell’s hair or Britney Spears’ alleged ability to read, Christmas in Australia just does not make sense.
You knew I was going to say this, and why not? It practically needs no further explanation. Christmas in Australia is often in the middle of a heat wave. Being a British colony, we sort of speak the same language and, when it suits, we follow the same traditions. So when I was growing up it was roast turkey for Christmas lunch, even when it was so hot you could sit the bird out on the veranda for a few hours and it would probably cook itself. Each year I would marvel at my mum in the kitchen as the heat of all that cooking turned it into a sauna and eventually she turned into someone who looked like they’d just had a quick dip in the pool. Each year, by the time lunch was ready, the heat had melted away our appetites and we’d all sit down to a feast, the eating of which raised our temperature so much we ended up looking like we’d followed her into the pool.
Nope, I’m sorry, Christmas in London wins hands down. Even when you’re trudging through it to the train station at 7am, only to find services are suspended anyway, the beautiful silence of a world freshly blanketed by snow is hard to ignore. The quiet envelops you and the normally grey London is (for a while) a clean, wondrous white. In Australia, it’s the heat that envelops you, and the only white in the world comes from the deodorant stains in your armpits from all that sweating.
In the last decade, Australians seem to have realised that a traditional English Christmas dinner is not the brightest idea. So being an island with a populace predominantly huddled round the coastlines, we’ve made Christmas a fishy affair. It’s light, you can have it cold or you can even cook it outside on the barbecue. Christmas week in Oz doesn’t so much see the mad scramble to the butcher for the bird. No, now it’s off to market for the best prawns.
This is all just wrong. If there’s no Yorkshire pudding, no mince pies, no mulled wine and hot cider, it’s just not Christmas. After lunch we should be slipping into a gluttonous coma, not having enough energy for backyard cricket.
The Set Design/Wardrobe
Right from when you plop out of the womb, a few things become apparent; The Wiggles are gods, McDonalds is food of the gods and Christmas equals winter. In December, the media saturates your little head with endless images of snow, sleighs, reindeer, skating and a big, fat man presiding over it all in a thick, red outfit with fur trim. For some reason this doesn’t seem weird, you just accept it as fact, like a giant rabbit bringing you chocolate eggs and Katie Price’s ability to write novels. You hang winter decorations on a tree which is going to die from the heat in about two weeks and when you look outside you see glaring sun and people in shorts and flip flops.
But when you’re in London it suddenly makes sense. It’s cold, people wrap up, and news reports feature the elderly freezing to death in a snow storm. That’s more like it. And besides, lathering your house in a sheet of blinking lights is much less of a fire hazard in a country where the threat of the state electricity grids melting is not a real one.
The Christmas Spirit
There’s just about as many charities in London as there are wealthy people with a guilt complex, so Christmas charity makes sense here. In London, Christmas is cold, so when you see a homeless person you’re more likely to reach into your pocket and help them out. In Australia, when the beggar has a better tan than you, you just want to look at them and say “Geez mate, you’ve got sunshine and fresh air, you get to sleep under the stars. I’ve got four walls, a mortgage and a hoover. And who wants to eat when it’s 40 bloody degrees anyway?”
If you’re still not convinced, I thought I’d finish with a visual argument. If you live in Australia instead of London, you’re never going to have the opportunity to wear this at Christmas are you? Case closed.