I'm writing this on Saturday, so I have a five-day buffer zone from which to wonder what I'm about to wonder without having to believe it might actually come true. What if I get stranded in London for Christmas?
When Bing Crosby sang about a White Christmas, I don't think he ever took the issue into consideration. Why would he, he had all the natty jumpers and roaring fires and fur-trimmed ladies that he needed right there at the Holiday Inn*. His days would be merry and bright (partly because he was in a film studio).
But for where I'm sitting now - in the window of Muswell Hill Caffe Nero with a hot chocolate the size of my head - it's looking like a distinct possibility. The snow has reached the mid-level milestone of on my gauge of Bad Snowness: when you can no longer see where the pavement ends and the road begins, basically you're in trouble. And the country's rail services being as wussy as they are (I always like to picture Southern as a wheebly girl who doesn't want to get her hair wet), I'm already anticipating an Arctic hell mission to get back to Worthing on the 23rd.
You always assume that in these situations, everything will miraculously work out ok. Your Dad will somehow commandeer a husky-drawn sleigh to zip you down the A24. You'll hitch a lift in a van with a polka band, like in Home Alone. You don't let yourself entertain the idea that you might have to spend Christmas with an M&S stuffing sandwich playing Guess Who against yourself**.
I'm one of the lucky ones, though, as by finishing work on the 23rd I have a whole 30 hours in which to hike, bike and possibly kayak back to my parents' house. But for my friends who are working on Christmas Eve, with every snowflake that falls they edge closer to the possibility of a lonely yule. So they're forming pre-emptive survival plans in case the worst happens, where all the snow victims gather to pool their food stocks and residual body heat, play charades and wrap up things they've found in the flat for each other as poignant makeshift presents.
"My own toilet brush! Used! Aw Billy, you shouldn't have. Pass the turkey twizzlers." Then when the snow finally thaws, they will find that their hearts have melted a little too, and realise that wherever there is love, you can create your own Christmas.
So I'm praying that the snow will hold off long enough for not just me, but everyone to make it safely home. Partly in the spirit of goodwill to all mankind, and partly because I just know that if they have the DIY lonely London Christmas without me, I'm going to be properly jealous.
*Incidentally, I always picture the Holiday Inn like a lovely version of a Premier Inn, with more seasonal charm and less Lenny Henry. Instead of the little tray of tea bags and biscuits, there might be mulled wine and a tiny gingerbread house. And shampoo actually worth pocketing when you leave. It is also worth saying, I have never watched Holiday Inn.
** Actually I play a mean game of solo charades. So long and elaborate are my mimes that by the end, I've forgotten what the original answer was.
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