Carols at the Lamb and Flag

“Oh come, all ye faithful…”

There are thirty or forty people in the lounge bar of the Lamb and Flag for the carol singing.

Maureen and I were late so we had to squeeze in at the back.

A woman with long blond hair whom I did not know was singing without a sheet. Her face was familiar though. She clearly knew all the carols by heart. Her daughter, I guess it was her daughter, was checking messages on her Blackberry.

Pete was playing a Yamaha keyboard and Deirdre was holding up the sheet music for him.

Dennis was calling out the numbers of the carols in the little booklet that was handed to us. It was sponsored by Shelter.

At the end of the first carol, Norman, who was standing at the bar, shouted over to us and asked us what we wanted.

A pint of bitter and a brandy-and-ginger were passed across to us.

Now we are singing “Star of Wonder, Star of Night”. I am distracted for a moment by a memory. Someone is telling me that the star of Bethlehem could have been  a supernova in the constellation of Andromeda. A bright object was recorded by Chinese and Korean astronomers in 5BC. The same person went on to say that Jesus must have been born before 2BC because Herod was dead by then.

Was it Richard? No, he doesn’t talk like that. It was somebody else.

Now it’s “Good King Wenceslas”. I always liked this one. It’s a little story.  The good king stocks up with meat, wine and pine logs and he and his page help the poor man back to his home near St Agnes fountain. I always used to wonder if St. Agnes Fountain was frozen over.

Some of the young people are singing with us. Other sons and daughters, up from London for a day or two, have gone next door to the other bar.

Hadley has gone to join them. She is spending a few days with us. Jake is with his father this Christmas.

Amanda, Maureen’s daughter, and baby Cordelia are with us too. Maureen told me that Amanda still loved to wake up to a Christmas stocking. So she will be staying up until after Amanda has gone to bed.

Will the next generation know their carols? I guess they’ll hear them playing through the bustle of shoppers in the big stores during the Christmas rush.

Will the drama of a cold, midwinter birth still move them?

After all, it’s just a sentimental story.

And there are no gods any more.

Not here anyway.

We ended up with the Twelve Days of Christmas. Angela Wyldmore-Smith organized people into groups to sing the different parts of the round. Maureen and I got two turtle doves and eight maids a milking.

Maureen laughed when we got that and put her arm round my shoulder.

Angela had been at school with Polly.

Finally there was a collection for ShelterBox, the charity that rushes tents and emergency to areas hit by floods or hurricanes.

So I have put their widget here.


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