A couple of weeks ago I posted about the mass illuminations going up all over Dunoon. I dare say I sounded very curmudgeonly. But I’ve just been listening to a recording of carols played by the wonderful Philip Jones Brass ensemble, and one of them in particular, “Wassail Wassail”, captured all that our garishly-lit preparations miss out on. I can’t explain how it happens; it’s one of the great mysteries of music – but these high, precise trumpets and that traditional tune, not associated with particularly religious words, suddenly created a complete vision of stars, and icy darkness, and complete anticipation.
And that’s it. Advent is a time of waiting – and here, on the north-western fringes of Europe, it is a time of long darkness and firelight. I’m not naïve – there’s no way I’d swap my comfortable home for a Dark Ages hovel – but the sense of expectation is precious, and still to be found – and hideously lacking in the public manifestations of the season.
So no, I’m not Scrooge. But I am sorry that more people can’t experience the quiet waiting time as just that – because waiting is never disappointing