Christmas Eve In London (1919)

Grey Havoc

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Oct 9, 2009
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Meant to post this a few days ago, but didn't get the chance.
From the Times December 24th, 1919

People yesterday were wishing one another "A Merry Christmas", and in spite of the rain,
the turkey famine, the elusiveness of whisky, and one or two other drawbacks, most who exchange greetings
agreed that it will be a merry Christmas this year. Fathers plodding home with large and small parcels, and not
distaining to carry an armful of holly and mistletoe — bought at many times the pre-war price — afforded
cheerful evidence that London was on the eve of the festival. In the West End, after the rain had ceased,
children were being taken through the toy bazaars, and women making belated purchases of toys. Books this year
are fully maintaining their popularity as a form of present. At the Times Book Club the buying of literature for gifts
is in excess of any previous season. The greatest demand is for the special type of Christmas book, with illustrations
by artists like Arthur Rackham and Dulac, and for daintily bound volumes of the poems of such writers as Rupert
Brooke. There has been a very large call for naval and military books, chiefly Lord Fisher's Memories, Field-Marshal Haig's
Dispatches, and Ludendorff's War Memories. New books of travel are less numerous than they used to be, but many
people are asking for Sir Ernest Shackleton's South. The most popular novels appear to be Legend, by Clements Dane,
Cousin Phillip, by Mrs Humphry Ward, and Mount Music, by Somerville and Ross.

In the suburbs, housewives were still vainly inquiring after turkeys, but there did not seem to be an unsold turkey left in
London. Even at Farringdon Street Market the smallest and scraggiest bird was labelled "sold" and stallholders held out
no hopes of further supplies. An optimistic comment was that sausages, at any rate, could be bought. More important,
perhaps, is the fact that the pudding is safe this year, and it will be much more like a Christmas pudding than that of
last December. The supply of fruit has been ample, and some grocers have been selling currants and raisins at less than the
controlled rates.

At the wine merchants, there was a last rush for port. Enormous quantities of port, good, bad, and indifferent, have been sold
this month, and many toasts will be drunk in it tomorrow.

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