November continues to draw in, darkness now at five. Trapped, breathing steam onto the windows of the too full, too expensive, too slow, too unreliable busses and the kidz that throw stones at them. The city is adopts its winter persona and so do we.
Tis the season of the fat coat, no longer time to be marauding around the streets in a T-shirt. Instead buried beneath ever more layers, sweating at the centre but still frozen at the extremities, while dragging around gifts for distant relatives in bags that seem to cut harder up hills that seem longer.
Liverpool is good in the summer, it might make everyone go a bit madder, but it’s all easier to cope with. In the winter the cold and wet sloshes all the horror from out the cracks and everything that’s bad just seems to bite that bit worse. All the rain doesn’t wash the scum from the streets though; it just collects in deep, still pools that lie in wait to soak through your trendy trainers to your toes.
Cheap Christmas lights strung up add to the usual PIZZAS KEBABS BURGERS illuminated ambience. All lights are welcome at this time of year though. Even every grotty shop looks inviting when faced with the harsh realities outside, despite all being filled with people being worse to each other at a more concentrated rate than at any other time of year. This AND constantly blaring out a never-ending medley of BandAidWhamSlade. Only SEAN AND KIRSTY saves.
Festive crap bought, time to push on back to hibernate in the security of hearth and home. Except your house that seemed breezy and dreamy in summer, now struggles with the bitter chill of winter. The heating warms up at the speed that glaciers shift and then leaks straight out of the crappy windows as you sit back and watch the damp rise and the gas meter spin.
Still, even under a dozen layers you can always spot a friend in mutual distress and propose instead the other option. Go instead to a bar where everyone knows your name. And how much money you owe them. Here are people. Here is warmth. And here is beer. And the more beer is more warmth and more warmth with people and warmth to them and you can take your coat off and lower defences.
Everyone drinks harder and faster in winter. A beer jacket is another layer, a better layer. Around the round table in the corner, intoxicated by booze and by the very thought of intoxication, of hiding from the world in the company and the moment till WARM INSIDE, the best kind of warmth.
Stiff shots, the time of year is a great excuse. Stay on. Stay on. JUST ONE MORE. Outside offers only isolation and cold. Stay on. Stay on and have another one. And on. Till the bell goes and you’re booted out and there’s no where left to go. Except home, once a fear, is now so inviting, all its faults forgotten.
If you drink just enough the Christmas lights and the city get that sheen, reflections distorted in the moisture of the pavements, flashes of light and magick and the place might just be beautiful if you can catch the orange glow of a cab before the cold radiation eats through. Get home and sit down, huddle in that manky armchair and switch on the Christmas tree just for a bit to remind you of how boss it is with all the different light settings and there’s the Merry Christmas’ light up thing in the wet, wet condensation window and
They don’t work.
Fucking Home Bargains crap.
Merry fuckin Christmas.
By Kenn Taylor
This piece appeared in the Dec/Jan issue of Bido Lito! magazine.