As part of our Christmas mission to spread The Fuzzy Feeling - the sense of coziness, sentimentality and warmth which defines the season - every Friday we're bringing you a weekly roundup of our Fuzzy Favourites.
We’ve handpicked a selection of our favourite ways to spend (or merely survive!) the festive season, drawing on our hometown of London as chief inspiration. Check in each week throughout December for our advent calendar of ‘fuzzy favourites’.
1. Film: Bright Star (2009)
Based on the life of John Keats and his outspoken lover Fanny Brawne, Jane Campion’s lyrical film lifts Keats’s words off the page and subsequently serves as a good introduction to the poet, especially for those who consider poetry ‘not for them’. Campion paints a wonderful portrait of Hampstead Heath in the 19th Century (where Keats and Brawne resided) and includes extracts from the poems themselves and their actual letters to each other which actors Ben Whishaw and Abbey Cornish skilfully re-enact out loud, a beautiful ode to longing and first love. (“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days - three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”)
2. Book: Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day by Winifred Watson
This uplifting adult fairytale written in 1938 focuses on a dowdy governess whose agency sends her to the wrong address, where she meets glamorous nightclub singer Miss La Fosse. In the course of a day, her fortunes - and previously little sense of self-worth - are turned upside down, via beauty parlours, cocktail parties and stand-offs with Miss La Fosse’s array of gentleman callers. Completely over the top, farcical and far-fetched but that’s what makes it so charming, it’s an easy, feel-good read you can pick up and put down amid all the Christmas chaos.
3. Place: Brasserie Zédel, Piccadilly
Given its location - slap-bang in the middle of Piccadilly Circus - by rights this place shouldn’t be as charming as this quaint French establishment is. Serving up standard French fare in a grandiose Art Deco basement, the place was perfectly summed up by food critic Grace Dent: “dinner is 30 quid a head and they treat everyone who comes through their doors like a duchess.” Entertainment includes live music, usually a French-style band involving pianos, banjos, bobbed hair and red lipstick, while waiters in white gloves lend the place a ‘Roaring Twenties’ elegance. With diners ranging from wide-eyed tourists to shy first daters, people-watching here is as pleasant as the food. Walking out afterwards into Piccadilly’s Christmas lights and excited, frantic tourists adds a little extra magic to proceedings.
4. Book: The Insomnia Poems by Grace Nichols
It’s all very well to talk of ‘fuzzy feelings’, but if the stress and significance of Christmas is impacting your sleep, this collection by renowned poet Grace Nichols is literary balm for shattered souls. Her poems muse on her childhood in Guyana and the strange solitude of lying awake in the dark, personifying sleep as “the thief which nightly steals your brain” and touching on its significance in fairytales like Sleeping Beauty. She also explores the idea of insomnia, which she personifies as a cruel lover demanding attention. It’s the equivalent of a longed-for friend to keep you company in the early hours, when it feels like the rest of the world is asleep.
5. Place: The Charles Dickens Museum, Holborn
The only museum in London that’s open on Christmas Day, this popular Dickensian haunt was actually the author’s family home in the later part of his life. The museum has recreated the house’s interiors to offer visitors a glimpse into what Dickens’s life was like and how his family lived. Throughout advent, the museum gets extra festive with Victorian Christmas decorations and performances and readings of 'A Christmas Carol', while other events include carol singing and Christmas pudding making, with plenty of mulled cider thrown in that would cheer up even Scrooge.