Step Into Christmas


First of all, thank you for all the ideas you sent me for this year’s advent calendar. I’m not going to share any of them here because I am storing them up for the future – I think we’re good now at least into the next decade.

But for 2015 I have decided to go with an idea that I’ve been toying with ever since the start, but never felt able to commit to. In my plea for help I said I’d decided against doing “my favourite carols” but I didn’t say why. I think it was because it felt both too restricting and too broad, but then I lit upon the idea of choosing my favourite carols as sung by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and suddenly I felt enthusiastic about it, because Carols From King’s is a memory that predates any actual concrete hook to hang it on: it’s a thing, a sound, that has always been in my life.

I used to listen to the annual Christmas Eve service from King’s, which has been broadcast on Radio 4 every year since 1954, while getting ready for the party that my parents used to have every Christmas Eve, back when they were entirely game for hosting parties for three days in a row. I used to listen to it in our kitchen while helping to make mulled wine and mince pies (always handmade, with pastry stars instead of a closed lid and a shake of icing sugar on top to look like snow), and it is, I promise, the Christmassiest music of all. So this year we aren’t going to be kitsch or ironic or clever – though we will be all of that again in years to come. This year, we are just going to listen to twenty-four of the very best Carols From King’s.

I’m about 75% sure of what’s in and what’s out but if you have a favourite, let me know and I’ll see if I can squeeze it in. See you back here tomorrow!

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