A Blackbridge Christmas

Another perfect Christmas has come and gone. At mine, there was the usual lead-up rush on the days preceding the 24th: shopping for decorations, the tree, food and drink, setting up the tree, cleaning and cooking. I was so wired on the 23rd that I decided to unwind with a little bit of Strelice bud on the balcony when Jitka and I finished preparing everything at 2 a.m.

I’ve already described the view. I was actually dreaming of the white Christmas that, according to Jitka, Czech forecasters had predicted. What I was gazing upon made utter liars out of them.

The streetlights glimmer off the rain-soaked road. A Passchendaele stew of mud, cobblestones, rocks and dead and naked and dying trees separate home from the road. The sky is as bleak and imposing as the menace-bloated ceiling that hovers over David Peace’s Northern England, and all of its corrupt and ultraviolent souls, the air wound tightly around a latent electric fury.

Dreaming of white snow, white sun, blue skies and fresh air. Epic snowball battles and toboggan grand prix, obscene snowmen, sideroad tunnel networks, shantytown igloos.

Dreaming and smoking and looking back over 2004, relieved that the year is over, I can hear footsteps coming from the left. Mikes, our cat, stands on his hind legs; he usually slinks over to the door when he hears someone approaching.

I peer around the edge of the building and see no one, but I can still hear the footsteps, heavy and marching our way. I turn to face the skatepark down the road. After some time, there are more footsteps, this time of a different variety. The rasp of soles being dragged along pavement stumbles through the air, interrupted by the odd hearty belch.

This time the footsteps have an owner. He jerks, hobbles and swerves in a seasick meander down to his panelak across the road. The sight is somewhat dramatic – I find myself tensing as he veers towards a lamppost or the guardrail, then easing up as a pickled variety of Spidey-sense yanks him out of his collision course in the nick of time. His internal homing device works its magic and gets him home with ease – a feeling I know well, for it’s nearly impossible to get lost in Prague, no matter how loaded you may be.

Dreaming of a white Christmas as I hear a key rattle into place, as the pub across the road spills more of its loose-limbed loose-lipped clientele. No fights tonight, thank Christ, just angry voices laden with cusswords and generous lashings of ty vole. A pretty blonde with stylish glasses and a steady scowl throws some eye contact up my way as she strides under the balcony.

My first Blackbridge Christmas has just begun.

There’s less to say about day itself – which means it went precisely according to plan. An overabundance of food (a huge bucket of potato salad, but no mud-and-bottlecap-eating carp and bland fish soup, though), Czech fairy tales on the telly (after a good six months without I finally got one of the damn things), no activities more taxing than preparing and serving drinks, crashing in front of the tube. Pure pohoda.

Dec 27, 10:00 (Filed under: Personal )

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