Except it’s not really. In this topsy-turvy upside down land of Oz, it’s a blazing 37 degrees celsius outside. In the blue, blue, cornflower blue sky, the merciless sun is beating down. The leaves stir in the breeze, which is not refreshing or cool, but hot, blowing in as it is from somewhere up north. Australia’s desert centre, perhaps. An occasional magpie caws tiredly in the heat. When you step outside, careful not to let in the somnolent blowflies buzzing by the door, ready to zip into the air-conditioned coolness of your home at any given chance, you walk smack bang into a hefty, solid wall of superheated air. And the mail, retrieved from the letterbox, is warm in your hand.
Melbourne’s weather had fooled me into thinking I was on one long, idyllic summer holiday – one which, I admit, was unlikely to happen in England (apart from the sizzling August and September of 2003). Friends in England sent through wonderful pictures of snowy London and public transport thrown into chaos. One wrote, complaining about being stuck in Paris because of Eurostar problems and worrying that he wouldn’t be able to get back to London in time to leave for Cuba (my heart bleeds, Josh)… now that’s a Yule lead up I can relate too!
But two days ago, I woke up with a start. It was Christmas, despite the heat and sun! And it had sneakily crept up on me! Time to get stuck into some mince pies! Time to join the frantic hordes thronging the shopping centres and share in the spirit of rampant consumerism! (Note: joining the throng in this season takes some time – you’ve got to find parking first!).
Then, it was present-wrapping time. Which I’ve always enjoyed. This year, it was helped along by a cuppa, a mince pie and liberal lashings of Phil Spector and Elvis Presley’s Christmas albums, Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas (Is You), Bing Crosby’s Here Comes Santa Claus and El Vez’s rockin’ version of Feliz Navidad. It’s Noel and if you’re not embracing the cheese – inappropriate exterior house lighting, tinsel, loud wintry-themed knitted reindeer jumpers etc. – you’re just not embracing the festive spirit.
Thankfully, the Australian weather means we can avoid the ridiculous jumper and there are always the more sombre warblings of Sufjan Steven’s Christmas album, Tom Waits’ Christmas Card from a Hooker from Minneapolis, Low’s rather magnificent Just Like Christmas and the Walkmen’s No Christmas While I’m Talking to balance the kitsch.
And so I wish you a lovely Christmas with friends and family, whether you’ll be cosying up by the fireplace, or enjoying the sunshine outside.
I’m off for a swim.