It’s that time of the year where Christmas madness descends on towns and cities. Websites are slow and shops are heaving; full of harassed, frantic looking people desperately searching for the perfect gift for their spouse, mother in law, ‘secret santa’ colleague and cat. I have managed to avoid all this because, don’t hate me, I don’t really do Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I love the lights, the festive music (well, some of it, the more classic Jazzy stuff from Nat King Cole as opposed to Slade shrieking ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’), the carols and nativity plays, the boozy lunches leading up to the big day. There are lots of fun parts, but it also creates a lot of stress, unnecessary expenditure and the feeling you’re missing out if you’re not taking part in all of the above and everyone else is! I remember Christmas as a child and we had a tree, I got lovely presents I had wanted all year and we used to go out to eat for a lot of the time as it was just my parents and I. As I got older and was working in retail which is the worst time of the year to work in retail as you only have Christmas day off work and have to be in early on Boxing Day to tag all the sale stuff. My (now husband) and I always stayed at my mum’s for Christmas and really just wanted to relax as we had been working every day leading up to it and would be again from Boxing day. One year mum was annoyed I had slept in and was quite stressed about cooking lunch even though it was just the 4 of us and we had no expectations for a grand affair and were happy to eat anything! From then on my husband and I agreed we would just do Christmas our way with no presents (unless we really wanted to and could afford to), no stress, no one else, we would sleep as long as we liked, eat what we liked, watch TV, read, not get dressed and generally laze about. My friends were always envious of me as I would be happy and relaxed and they would have family dramas to contend with such as whose house to go to if there were divorced parents or a boyfriend/husband whose family wanted him home. And our lazy Christmas days were wonderful for about 7 years until our son came along. Now the 3 of us are back with mum and dad (except they come to us and I cook) and that’s where we want to be at this time in our lives. It’s not like we could stay in bed all day anyway! I have managed to get away with not much fuss over Christmas the past few years as my son has been too young to understand, but I really thought he would ask for a tree this year and he hasn’t even mentioned it. He gets small presents all year round (if he’s a good boy) so we’re not going to get him anything major for Christmas day. Mum and Dad will come around and I will cook a roast chicken with all the trimmings and keep it simple. I can’t believe Christmas is only a few days away really and I am very underprepared and starting to feel that Christmas stress creep up on me like everyone else. Thank god for that M&S petrol station nearby which is open on the day and my parents are bringing Prosecco so, really, what’s there to worry about?!
Not much beauty going on here. My skin is certainly looking Christmassy at the moment as I have spots rather like baubles on a Christmas tree and no amount of make up have been covering up those babies or how tired I feel these days.
There seems to be so much to watch and I have little time and patience so need to be hooked quickly (on books, films and TV shows.) Here are 3 of my favourite recent TV shows:
The Missing on BBC1 finished a few weeks ago and I started it late and binge watched about 4 episodes on iplayer then couldn’t wait for the next episode week after week. It was very dark, but so well written with lots of unpredictable twists and turns and came to a satisfying conclusion compared to the rather gloomy unsure ending of the first series. I can’t write much as don’t want to give anything away, but if you want something very gripping and don’t get too confused by flashbacks then watch this now. There has been a lot mentioned on social media about him, but Tchéky Karyo as detective Julien Baptiste was particularly good in both series.
I think one of the best things I have seen all year, or maybe even ever, was The Night Of on Sky. I started it and actually decided not to pursue after the first episode, but that’s because I was working while watching it and hadn’t given it my full attention. Which it requires. Then my friend happened to mention how good it was and suggested re-watching the first episode and keep on going. So I did! I’m not even sure why it’s one of my favourite shows other than the fact I couldn’t stop thinking about it after I finished each episode and then thought about it for a whole week after the finale. It’s quite a simple story. A young, innocent student who is from a hardworking, muslim family in Queens, NYC, sneaks out one night to go to a party in Manhattan, taking his father’s taxi. While lost, a young pretty girl gets in the taxi, he likes her, she flirts with him and he ends up at her place. They take drugs and sleep together and when he wakes up she is dead. In a nutshell, he gets arrested and ends up in prison and the story takes place while he is there and during the trial. So you have a great detective story following the police investigation, legal proceedings as well as a prison drama and all the while examining the criminal justice system. There are lots of developments and you are never quite sure what to believe as we were never shown what actually happened that night so it’s still a mystery. So this might not sound like anything particularly groundbreaking or special, but what really stood out in The Night Of were the characters, the acting and the writing. I was so pleased to hear the two leads, Riz Ahmed and John Turturro are up for Golden Globes and SAGS for Best Actor (in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television) because they were outstanding. Riz is getting a lot of press as he’s currently in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (which he’s good in too), but he is seriously amazing in The Night Of. Other actors who should get a mention are: Michael Kenneth Williams as the unpredictable, but surprisingly thoughtful prison King Pin and Amara Khan as a young feisty lawyer rooting for Riz Ahmed’s character, Nas.
And now for something lighter. Mozart In The Jungle on Amazon Prime. I watched the first and second series back to back last year and joyfully discovered series 3 was available to stream last weekend. I just finished it earlier while I was putting my son to bed. He always asks me what I’m watching when I’m cuddling him and he goes to sleep and for the past few night he’s said “Mozart in the Jungle again?” This is such a lovely show, but I wish the episodes weren’t so short and only 10 in a series as it flies by and you are left clamouring for more of these wonderful actors. Again, the reason I like it is because of the characters and of course the music. I personally love classical music and orchestras, but I think anyone with eyes and ears would enjoy this show as it has humour, drama, relationships and lead actor Gael García Bernal as conductor Rodrigo is pretty gorgeous. There is so much negativity in this world and, yes, while I watch and read a lot of dark stuff, there is a need for light relief. Monica Bellucci stars in this series and there are beautiful shots of Venice for half of the series as well as New York where it is based. Go watch this warm, feel-good show; you’ll absolutely soak it up like a delicious bubble bath. I don’t think I can wait another year for another series.
So in case I am not back before the big day (highly unlikely seeing as I get round to updating this blog once a month if I’m lucky) then all it takes is for me to wish you a very Happy Christmas, whatever you’re up to.