Nature Boy. Christmas Eve 2015.

Dear Rowley,

One does run towards sentimental thoughts at this time of year; particularly when this is a London Christmas and so few nearest and dearest friends are in town. Actually, I do love London at this time of year and have a table for two booked in the Holborn Dining Room at Rosewood London for me and a fellow Bloomsbury Setter friend who is also at a loose end.

But, I have to admit feeling slight pangs when seeing bearded hipsters shopping two-by-two in Liberty, Sunspel, Prowler and the like. As you know, 2015 was the end of a seventeen-year relationship that was wondrous and complicated in equal measure. Our past few festive seasons hadn’t been particularly full of larks, laughs and Champagne so I’m not walking hand-in-hand with the ghost of Christmas Past.

No, it is the ghost of Christmas Future that concerns me. We are never going to be able to relive the family Christmases of my youth and adolescence because the leading ladies in the family have now gone. I would be entirely satisfied with Christmas amongst friends – much regretting that I couldn’t make the planned jaunt to India this year – but this time of year does make one take stock of relationships.

As you know, I have always been a worker bee. But comes a time when you wonder what it was all for? It is not as if I have made my fortune writing even though it has kept me in a manner I’ve grown accustomed to and has given me much pleasure and satisfaction. Calls to mind an anecdote told by the late, great Sammy Davis Jr who, in an interview, said ‘Show business is my life’. The interviewer replied ‘why?’ and Sammy said with that smoker’s chuckle, ‘I have no answer to that’.

I remember a rather boozy conversation with my glamorous Auntie Lynda one evening when the conversation lapsed and, after a pause, Lynda said ‘what’s it all about?’ This is a question I think we all have to answer at some point in our lives. Now I have reached the grand old age of forty-four, I think I should have some inkling as to what precisely ‘it’ is all about.

Well, for most of those forty-four years, I thought it was all about fortune and glory. I thought that success equated with approval. As Mama Rose said in the last scene of Gypsy, ‘I guess I just wanted to be noticed’. Well, I’ve certainly been noticed in my professional life for good and ill. I don’t mind a little notoriety but it does become rather exhausting being a hell raising workaholic.

The thing is, you can’t curl up with a career on a cold December night. When it comes down to it, I find the couplet from David Bowie’s Nature Boy is the perfect answer to ‘what’s it all about?’ ‘The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and to be loved in return’. Sounds so simple doesn’t it? To love and be loved in return is actually one of the hardest things to achieve in life.

Interesting to read on Twitter that all the gays who went back to their parents’ for Christmas are already reaching for the bottle. I think when one has a very particular life in London, it isn’t easy to go back from whence you came and fit effortlessly into the rhythm of the parental household. This is nobody’s fault. I think what I would like to have the opportunity to do is host my family in London with handsome husband at my side. Gorgeous as Bloomsbury Towers is, it isn’t big enough to seat four let alone an entire clan.

As for the handsome husband, there appears to be some delay. Calls to mind another song in a Bowie movie called Just A Gigolo entitled ‘Don’t let him be too long’. It is, of course, a double entendre cabaret number sung by Sydne Rome wearing little more than a frond of bejewelled net and a turban with a pheasant feather exploding from the crown. But the lyrics are zingers: ‘don’t let him be too late, a man who’ll appreciate, a girl with good taste but with no time to waste, so don’t let him be too long’.

Contrary to popular belief, I am not feeling maudlin. But I am in reflective mood thinking how to improve on 2015. My health does tend to ambush me every couple of years so it was due to fail again in 2015. But I do wonder how life and love would have shaped-up had I been free of ‘the troubles’.

Of course Christmas is also a time to count one’s blessings and I have been fortunate in so many ways. I have a strong family, friends who would take a bullet for me and a writing career that I love. I’m equally grateful that my chin hasn’t hit the floor yet and that this tired, battered old body isn’t showing half of the stress and strain that I have put it through. On a good day, I can find humour in the darkest corners and I live exactly where I always dreamed I would: on a Georgian London square in the centre of town.

Neither have I lacked for male attention living by my mantra that nobody ever died wishing they’d had less sex or turned down that one for the road. But in 2016 I think quality rather than quantity is the goal. We shall see what we shall see…