It doesn’t feel like Christmas. This morning the roads were unseasonably warm. Everything moved with a hiss, like snakes on holiday. There was a little sun; there was a large sun shedding a little light, it concentrated on the side of a building in the distance and shone in green down on the wet road before me; it was long distance presented for my arousal, eight minutes of time difference and emerald.

On Saturday I went to see Santa with my nieces. For the first time, the youngest didn’t cry, just stared up, tense, ready to fight, having at last come to terms with her fear and prepared for anything. I sat and watched, smiling. Santa smelled of eleven months in storage. He handed down presents and my nieces thanked him and walked off.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas.

My mother is obsessed with Christmas. I went into the downstairs bathroom: there was a small plastic tree (decorated), a rudolph shower-mat, a light-up star ornament upon the toiletries shelf, and a santa claus soap dispenser. I will say nothing else about the rest of her house. Her love of Christmas is strengthened by the presence of my nieces — her granddaughters — who, when they are there, will play with every ornament (nativity sets (three), polar bear stuffed toys, penguins russian dolls, a felt advent calendar with each character of the story.

Outside the pizzeria, with its neon light and soft lingering smell, there is a group of drunk young men who are talking and then erupt, in an instant, into a bundle of violence. I move my head so that I don’t catch a loose right, then walk into the small supermarket behind. It’s the busiest night of the year for the pubs in the city. There was a time when I’d be out with my friends, drinking and glad to be a part of it, but those friends are gone now — tucked up with families — and their replacements don’t drink, so I walk past the fight and buy some kitchen towels, beer, mozzarella and fruit juice. I walk past all the groups of people as the pavements are filled from the overspilling bars. It doesn’t feel like Christmas. I button up my coat to pretend it’s cold, but it’s not, so I sweat and feel it dripping down my back. I daren’t unbutton my coat. The window in my flat is busted so there is a constant draught of cold air, depending on the wind outside.

Straight away I turn the fan on, strip down and stand in front of it with a beer. I have nothing to do. I think of the busiest night of the year for the pubs in the city.