Wednesday 23 August 2017

Tim Stanley: It can be a lonely time of year but for some of us, solitude is a Christmas gift

FOR many people, this is the most wonderful time of the year. For others, it’s full of mixed emotions. I spend most of my life glued to the computer or reading books, lost in a world of abstract ideas. Having to stop all that, switch off the laptop, put away my reading glasses, and look my relatives directly in the eye can be an awkward experience. Fortunately there’s television to drown out the silence and alcohol to make the television watchable. Bring on Bing Crosby and God bless Mammon.

I have chosen to live this way. I turned down all the marriage offers and chances to build a family. Writing comes first for me, and it’s a lonely existence. So I spend public holidays in the company of my mother and father (I don’t have a sibling). One year we grew so sick of the same old routine that we booked Christmas dinner at a local pub. When we arrived we discovered that we were the only ones who had reserved a table. The Stanleys ended up dining by themselves in an empty public house, while the landlord went through the last throes of a messy divorce.

But others do not choose to suffer at Christmas. It is distressing to know that some people will spend Christmas Eve asleep on the streets, or that others will spend it fearful of where the next penny is coming from. Life in an age of recession is frightening. There are the ill to think of, too. My own father will see out the New Year in a lead lined room being bombarded by radiation (he has been advised that everything he brings into the radiotherapy – even the TV – will be destroyed afterwards. “And what about me?” he asked).

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