There’s rarely a better time to be in London than the run up to Christmas. As a Jew, I feel very strongly about this.
The air is crisp, the wind is howling, the Tube is a potent blend of consumption and typhoid, and the biggest conundrum is trying to work out where you last left your umbrella.
After a steaming bowl of Wagamamas' ramen with my cousin, we wandered up Regent Street, where workman were busy stringing Christmas lights across the road. It wasn’t so much religious as sponsored by the Dreamworks animated film Mr Peabody and Sherman but still very exciting. Grove-like, if you will.
And this morning - thrill! - I walked by a group of sailors selling poppies outside Monument tube, as part of the British Legion appeal (sadly, I missed out on the Duchess of Cambridge, who was rattling her tin at High Street Kensington tube).
If things couldn’t get any more well, British, last weekend, I went to church to listen to choral music. The Stoke Newington Contemporary Music Festival was a rare treat and it was my other cousin (I have many cousins, most of them called Howard), who invited me to hear Ishirini, an innovative chamber choir, just back from a tour of Israel and Palestine. Mezzo-soprano Gina Fergione was quite outstanding but sang in a way I’ve never heard before. She made the choir’s John Cage selection sound like One Direction.
The church was amazing though, featuring a massive organ, stained glass windows and a nice strong draught around the ankles. As we walked along Church Street in Stokey, I thought we were heading to the big old church, but my cousin said, ‘No, we’re going to the old old church, St Marys.” The big old church was built in 1884, the old old church in 1563, so it officially wins the 'Old Church Award for Being Old'.
In movie news, it’s all equal on the gender wars. I saw two screenings, The Invisible Woman and The Railway Man. No, not sequels to whatever is going through your head right now but two powerful, quiet, thoughtful films – a lovely antidote to all the superhero movies that are taking over the world right now (although I must say Thor 2 was fabulous. Hemsworth, Hiddleston and Elba – what more do you need?).
The Invisible Woman, directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes - and written by genius scribe Abi Morgan - tells the story of Dickens’ secret mistress. If you like long lingering shots of people with slender honeyed necks, sweeping beaches and a large side order of angst with your love affairs, you will enjoy this gentle tale. Who knew that the man who wrote A Christmas Carol was such a dark horse?
The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth as Eric Lomax (and Nicole Kidman as his wife Patsy, wearing a cute 80's bob), tells the true story of a British officer sent to a prisoner of war camp by the Japanese in Singapore. Years later, Lomax is able to confront one of his captors and the end result is not only emotional but surprising. Merry Christmas Mr Lomax.
Yes, I left with tears in my eyes. And no, it had nothing to do with the wind howling along Charlotte Street.
Follow me @lisamarks or follow someone else entirely. I really don't mind :)