Posts Tagged Christmas

Happy New Year!

Will Howells over at LibDem Voice reminds us that today is Distaff Day when housework traditionally resumes after 12th night marks the end of the Christmas break. For me it’s the other way round: the end of a more domestic time and back to the full-on focus on campaigning – and this blog.

Not that we stopped altogether over Christmas. My fantastic team were out in all weather between Christmas and New Year delivering our latest leaflets. It was lovely to be greeted by supporters in the streets as we went round.

And I’ve enjoyed lots of community events over the holiday period, including the Canonbury Society Christmas drinks, the NO2ID Christmas party and carol-singing at St Mary’s church and at the N1 Centre.

Just before Christmas, we had the festival and opening ceremony for the new public open space at City Road Basin. I’ve backed the Basin redevelopment ever since it was mooted, so it was a great pleasure to be alongside Council Leader Terry Stacy as he cut the ribbon.

A highlight was the highly successful 10-years-on Islington Lib Dem Christmas party at the new Islington Museum. The Museum used to be housed in the old Assembly Hall at Islington Town Hall, which has now been refurbished as a new fully accessible meeting space. I attended the first event there, a meeting with Transport for All and Disability Action In Islington, about the threat to the Freedom Pass.

The snow has made us all realise how tough life gets when transport and travel are difficult. For people with disabilities, travel is a year-round challenge. With the Labour government taking subsidy out of London’s Freedom Pass, putting more of a cash demand on the boroughs, it’s important that the Freedom Pass does not get cut back to the statutory minimum.

I was delighted that Terry Stacy pledged that under the Lib Dems, Islington will continue to fund the Freedom Pass in full. (The Labour group leader, despite cries of ‘answer the question!’ from her own supporters, was unable to do the same.) Without government backing that could lead to pressures on other social services spending. So it’s still important to sign the petition to Save the Freedom Pass.

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Advent calendars

A bit late I know, but as well as the sort you hang on the wall, there are lots of Advent Calendars out there to enjoy online.

I really like the Paperless Advent Calendar from the wonderful Paperless Christmas team.

‘Why are we waiting’ is a serious-minded calendar from the Church of England, embracing the spirit of Copenhagen (before it went horribly wrong) with daily reflections on a simpler lifestyle.

For those who prefer politics to religion, there’s a daily political cartoon from Work 4 An MP.

The Tate Gallery has a children’s calendar of modern art. And fans of Etre et Avoir will like this sweet French calendar of carols.

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Christmas recycling in Islington

Some useful info from Islington Council’s recycling team:

Refuse and Recycling collections during Christmas and New Year

With Christmas Day and New Year’s Day falling on Fridays, residents who normally have collections on a Friday will have their materials collected on Sunday 27 December and Saturday 2 January instead. The Council website has the full list of scheduled changes.

Christmas tree recycling

If you live in a street property you can simply leave your Christmas tree at the edge of your property along with your normal green waste from Monday 4 January. If you live on an estate please contact your Area Housing Office for more information on how to recycle your Christmas tree.

There will also be four bring sites for Christmas trees at parks in Islington between 2 and 17 January:
* Kings Square in EC1
* Rosemary Gardens in Canonbury
* Elthorne Park near Archway
* Barnard Park in Barnsbury

You can also take green waste, including Christmas trees, to the Household Reuse and Recycling Centre at Hornsey Street.

Extra recycling bags

Apparently the Council are also delivering a pack of 10 clear recycling sacks for extra recycling to the properties which get the green box service. I’ve not seen these yet but will look forward to them. Especially as I’m hoping to do a bit of a tidy up and clearout between Christmas and New Year!

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Singing in the rain

The Christmas lights are coming on all over Islington, courtesy of the council.

Yesterday we gathered in pouring rain to see Jason Merrells switch on the Essex Road lights. The Essex Road traders laid on mince pies, and children from the RoseBowl Youth Club sang; feet damp, but not spirits.

It was so wet we wondered whether to call off the evening’s canvassing. But with just 23 weeks to go, Christmas and Easter included, to the likely election date, we’re not letting any campaign opportunities slip. So armed with boots and brollies we were off to Barnsbury – and I’m glad we did.

On a single estate we met so many people disillusioned with Labour and switching to the Lib Dems. There was the grandmother worried about her family’s future; a single mum who says Labour’s training schemes have failed her; and a first-time voter who wants to see us win. There was support too from a community activist who used to vote Green. One of the ward team was telling me he’d been approached in the street by someone wanting to help deliver our leaflets. Truly reason to sing in the rain!

Tonight I was doing the singing – carols at the Angel with others from St Mary’s. We were singing at the invitation of Christine Lovett, the energetic director of Islington’s Business Improvement District. The BID brings together businesses from around the Angel who pay an extra voluntary levy which, unlike the business rates, is spent locally on improving the area for their customers.

We started in Camden Passage and ended up in the N1 Centre. Not quite sure what the queue for the Days of Grays tour made of it, but we had lots of smiles and even applause from passers-by. (For what it’s worth, the most popular carols seemed to be Ding Dong Merrily and, as ever, Silent Night).

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What the donkey saw

I led the prayers in church today and decided to open with this poem by U. A. Fanthorpe:

What the donkey saw

No room in the inn, of course,
And not that much in the stable
What with the shepherds, Magi, Mary,
Joseph, the heavenly host –
Not to mention the baby
Using our manger as a cot.
You couldn’t have squeezed another cherub in
For love or money.

Still, in spite of the overcrowding,
I did my best to make them feel wanted.
I could see the baby and I
Would be going places together.

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Christmas refuse collection dates

Islington’s holiday refuse collection and recycling dates are available online.

The Council website also has details of how to get your Christmas tree recycled.

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Christmas is coming

As the ad says, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

The postman is bringing real post not just junkmail. Quiet houses are suddenly covered in festive lights – like 2 Rocliffe Street which is brightening its corner near the canal. So are Islington’s shopping streets, thanks to the Council: blue lights for a cool Yule.

The Christmas party season is in full swing. On Sunday night we celebrated after a happy carol service with drinks in the Crypt at St Mary’s. Last night was Islington Lib Dems mince pies & mulled wine do. And there’s still my work party to come. Will we make it to Christmas Day?

Richard wrestled his way home with the tree last weekend, and Percy has been getting used to this strange arrival in the living room. We have to wait until he’s stopped trying to climb the tree before we can decorate it….

There’s still some presents to buy, final cards to write, and holiday food to organise. Not to mention negotiating the logistics of who’s travelling where and when. But with a week to go, and a Ceremony of Carols on the radio, celebration is starting to take over from stress.

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Marketing not that super

Last year I blogged about the surreal world of celebrities advertising supermarkets at Christmas.

This year it’s got even weirder: I had an email from M&S advertising their ad… all very post-modern. And confusing given that the M&S ad features Take That – who are still warbling for Morrisons. And now we have Jason Donovan singing for Iceland. Can’t see Kylie doing that.

I’m not the only one bemused by this. The wonderful Wood Green bookshop blog expresses it all brilliantly.

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Division of labour*

I finished [paid] work at lunchtime and it’s now the countdown to the arrival of parents for Christmas lunch. This explains why I am blogging (flagrant displacement activity) instead of cleaning. I’m very blessed in that Richard shares both the domestic chores and my untidiness threshold. My mother’s threshold is however different, so parental visits bring on a mini spring clean at any time of year.

Now I’m working from home, I anticipated extra hours in the day to prepare for Christmas. Ho ho ho. I had reckoned without the December FOCUS and Christmas card delivery. So for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been up with the lark, deliver a round of FOCUS, back home to work by 9am; repeat same at lunchtime and after work. And delivery all day at the weekends. I’m so grateful to my fantastic campaign team all doing their bit at the busiest time of year.

I do sometimes wish we had the big bucks needed to post the cards. Especially on the rainier days and chillier mornings. It is however great to get out and see so many people. And delivery has a couple of advantages over Christmas shopping. Not least that the bags get lighter not heavier as you go.

But the big plus for me is that I have delegated virtually all the shopping to Richard – with some anxiety. Revelation: he is brilliant.

Rich doesn’t enjoy shopping enough to prolong it pointlessly. I used to trudge round an extra hour on the basis that as I was there I should go round every department ‘just in case’. Just in case what? A family member is born or gets engaged while I’m shopping? I grow an extra arm to carry more things home?

He sticks to the list. I have a terrible habit of wasting time & money on ‘generic’ presents. I’m not sure if it’s because I so rarely shop that I suddenly overdose, or if it’s false prudence, a kind of insurance in case I don’t find the perfect present for people later on. All I know is come January; I have various objects – photo frames, bath towels, travel gadgets, candle holders – which are definitely hefker. Not this year!

Richard doesn’t agonise. I have been known to spend so long dithering between which of two scarves was better, that the store detectives had me in their sights. Richard sees and buys; and if in doubt, phones me with a shortlist. I’m halfway up a tower block “Bath stuff: Strawberry or mango?” Ten minutes later, “Calendar: Cezanne or Klimt?” On Saturday, he went out and came back with first turkey, then tree, all before 10am.

It is fantastic. I have a personal shopper. Richard has a job for life.

*for those of you expecting a political posting about the divisions of Labour, well it’s the season of goodwill. Until at least Wednesday.

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Christmas buses

Geoff Pope, one of the Lib Dems on the London Assembly, has been quizzing Mayor Ken about public transport at Christmas.

Last year Geoff pressed the Mayor to look at whether a Christmas Day bus service running on a night bus timetable might be possible; so far Ken’s answer is no. Bah humbug!

I think it’s a great idea; Christmas Day is the only day there is no public transport, yet it’s also a day when people want to travel to see family & friends, (maybe even go to church). And no bus or tube risks more drink driving.

Maybe if we get a change of Mayor, we’ll also get a Christmas Day bus service for 2008.

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