Winter has well and truly closed in, with black ice laying in sheets across the roads, scarf and gloves on, and “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” stuck on a permanent loop in my head. I had Cliff Richard’s “Mistletoe and Wine” in there this morning, though, so John and Yoko are definitely a step up.

For all that “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” has hopeful lyrics, it’s always seemed to me one of the saddest of all Christmas songs. It reminds me of the odd feeling that things are ending – saying goodbye to colleagues as you leave work for the holidays, wishing a Merry Christmas to the staff of shops and cafés you frequent… It feels like sort of like a permanent ending, even though we’ll all be back at work in two weeks’ time, and my café and takeaway habit will continue unabated over the Christmas season.

Perhaps it’s a remaining echo of my time at University, where holidays meant we all scattered back to family homes, leaving each other behind. These days we’re scattered for good, as far apart as the four winds, but somehow holidays are still lonelier.

It’s dark now, deep into the longest night of the year. Time to raise a glass to the Winter, to light a fire upon the hearth and look forward to lengthening days once again. To those friends of mine who celebrate such days, have a very merry Winter solstice night! To everyone else, you’ve still got four days left to go!