Instead of sending Christmas cards this year I’ve made a donation to The Dream Factory, a fabulous children’s charity that’s very close to my heart. Saturday afternoon saw me in my Cinderella dress with Karen’s bobbed blonde wig, shaking my collection tin at the end of the ‘ten items or fewer’ aisle in M&S. I forgot that Cinders usually wears long white gloves, so my arms were goose-bumped enough that several people mistook me for Elsa from Frozen!! The charity’s worth every shiver and tooth-chatter though, so I was very happy to help out.
Something a bit weird happened this week. Thinking I knew all the major art galleries in London it was a complete shock to discover that Somerset House is more than simply a venue for London Fashion Week and a skating rink. The beautiful building on the Strand surrounds a glittering courtyard dominated by a huge Christmas tree – which was surrounded by women giving out free samples of Fortnum and Mason Turkish Delight. That’s the sort of festive welcome I like.
Martyn the Artist had taken me to view the controversial Egon Schiele ‘Radical Nude’ exhibition. This lesser known expressionist genius shook up the art world in the early 20th century, albeit briefly, as the poor man, and his talent, died tragically at only 28 years old. The exhibition charts his ground-breaking journey, distinguishing himself with originality in a significant genre of modern art. That’s more or less the words of the gallery. In my words: rude!
We then wandered into the East Wing – and stepped back into the 80s. Chris Stein/Negative: Me, Blondie, and The Advent of Punk is an outstanding collection of photos charting the rise of Blondie. Gorgeous, iconic Debbie Harry is presented as she was in her heyday: Chris Stein’s girlfriend, world class performing artist and super-hot woman.
The exhibition includes other 70s and 80s icons and I love love love the print of Debbie and Bowie – it would look really good on my office wall! (Hint, hint.) Our hour there provided a snapshot of a different world, but Blondie’s influence on music and fashion smoothly transcends four decades to be as relevant today as it was then.
I may not find David Bowie in my stocking on Christmas day but I won’t care. My work on Saturday with The Dream Factory reminded me how lucky I am. Not that I need reminding. Something else that made me feel grateful this week was a visit to the awesome Clerkenwell restaurant: Dans le Noir? (Yes, its name includes the question mark.) If you’ve never experienced a sensory loss, tackling an unknown meal in a pitch black environment is challenging, fun and – I want to say ‘eye-opening’ but that is so inappropriate.
Our blind waiter, Jack, was the most attentive host imaginable. He guided us to our table, joked with us as we attempted to pour drinks from the carafe to our glasses and served an incredible three course meal that I did, in fact, manage to get to my mouth without making a horrible mess! We shared the table with four strangers – social networking in the dark. To experience a dinner party without sight is really something else, and my absolute admiration and thanks go to the visually impaired team that make a visit to Dans le Noir a must-do for anyone in London.
Most popular Christmas song of all time? Loved her, can’t stand them, but it’s ever so slightly addictive… “I could have been someone; well so could anyone. You took my dreams from me when I first found you. I kept them with me babe, I put them with my own; can’t make it all alone… I’ve built my dreams around you.”
I hope the dreams you’re building come true this Christmas. Wishing you one that’s peaceful, safe and very happy. And if Santa gives you everything you want, you can tell me about it here: @WeekendWitch Xx