This morning I bought a Christmas tree from Chatsworth Road market for the boat. I was very lucky to get such a plump, bushy one. The adolescent twin brothers who were offering local delivery services for one pound a go had already stalked off with another lady’s Christmas tree – a six-footer. So I had to cop my load alone. I slung the young spruce pine up onto my shoulder and savoured the fragrant smell of the tree, as fresh needles found their way onto my hair and woollen coat. I held onto the trunk of the tree and marched back home, almost entirely eclipsed by its branches, to the delight and amusement of almost every person that I passed by.
When I got back to the boat I had to negotiate both the tree and the cat back inside through the narrow gallery and past the kitchenette. I released my cumbersome pine tree into its new home beside the fire and hacked away at its caul of plastic netting with a pair of scissors. In a moment its canopy of young branches bounced down with the elastic spring of rubber. I realised with misgiving that the tree was enormous, and filled up at least half the width of the boat. It was a tragi-comic moment – Christmas was upon us whether we wanted it or not.
I have made a resolution to decorate the tree entirely from home made objects this year. Some girls at the Christmas party gave me good ideas – using dried fruit and spices hung from ribbons. The ‘Crafty Christmas’ page on the Friends of the Earth webpage also had some ingenious suggestions (including painting popcorn to create mini baubles and making cut-outs from baked dough).
The towpath by Clapton is very seasonal at this time of year. A group of well-wishers from a local church invited me to their christingle service this week. Passersby walk by in neat family groups, wearing hats, scarves and gloves. The Chatsworth Road market has been a success on almost every weekend this December and throngs with mistletoe vendors and organic vegetable stalls. I saw little plastic punnets of mahogany chestnuts and the deranged towers of brussel sprouts balanced in wooded boxes.