Affairs

Retail

Step into Christmas… and actual shops— London

Preface

That’s much more like it. I’m in the mood for feasting, hall decking, Christmas cheering, wine mulling and thinking on the season now that this weekend has just happened.

Christmas, Cyber Monday, Monocle Christmas Fayre

4 December 2012

That’s much more like it. I’m in the mood for feasting, hall decking, Christmas cheering, wine mulling and thinking on the season now that this weekend has just happened. Not to mention present giving (and receiving), carol singing and stocking filling (insert own “Trust me to get stuck with a man who only comes once a year”/“But at least when he does he always fills your stockings” joke here).

Which weekend, you ask? Well, it was Monocle’s Christmas Fayre (yes, with a “Y”) and the unfettered spicy seasonal feeling now spilleth over. I’m not going to embark on a paean to the joy of Christmas (that’ll be a bit closer to the point in the wedge-shaped journalistic year) but I do want to riff on the idea of a sweet little festival that celebrates a holiday and a religious event through the not-insignificant power of that good old seasonal standby: retail. ’Tis the season to get stuff, buy stuff, beget gifts and be begotten of them (not literally).

Yesterday was Cyber Monday, so called because it was predicted as the world’s busiest day for online shopping and the day that sounds the starting gun for Christmas shoppers. Cyber Monday’s a funny one, isn’t it? As a concept and a name it has its roots in being the Monday after Black Friday, itself the badly named first Friday after Thanksgiving in the US. It’s a weird one too, for Cyber Monday – despite being a phrase less than 10 years old – manages to sound more ancient than the Christmas Day that it signposts. Anyway: boom! How much did you spend? What did you log on to? How much is the postage and packaging? Did you feel part of the Cyber Gang? Well, did you? Of course not, cats, what a load of badly PR’d rubbish.

So we’ll go back to the Fayre (with a “Y"), a thing that warms the cockles of my heart anew, just sitting here writing this. I’ve a Proustian rush for Granger & Co.’s hot apple cider; the tickle of happy memory at the thought of the screams from the oversubscribed tombola; a smile at the thought of healthy sales figures recorded among the corduroy of Hentsch Man, the blankets of ESK Cashmere and the superb vinyl at Honest Jon’s.

And I shed a tear when I think of that lovely reindeer couple, ripe for petting in their straw-stuffed pen here at Midori House where, on normal non-Fayre days, the bikes sit waiting for their owners to ride them home. I had raclette courtesy of the Swiss embassy, a few warming wines courtesy of the underrated vines of that country, too, and Santa Claus sleighed down from Lapland to charge a good-value three quid for a Polaroid shot of he and me (and you and they).

Two days of seasonal cheer and charmingly engaging treasure-hunting where you actually meet the name on the store awning, accompanied by some pokey drinks and Christmas music and you’ll be glad you never got involved in that old-before-it’s-young, faceless meanie called Cyber Monday. Get online at the shops, people. Do it in person. Come Christmas time that roaring fire will crackle even more invitingly if you’ve worn out a little shoe leather getting the logs yourself. Maybe I’m just a bit smug because as of Saturday I’ve had my tree up: £22 from the corner of Essex Road, no online discount required, carried it home over shoulder. Come on, there’s no business like snow business.

Monocle 24

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