Christmas Day in Cambridge, all is quiet

Sunday, December 25, 2005 — Cambridge. Christmas Day dawned bright, sunny, crisp–a gorgeous day. We were again invited to King’s chapel for their 11:00 sung Eucharist. As we walked to the chapel, the streets were deserted and no traffic–only a few people on their way to church. (Unlike the United States, in England, everything closes down for Christmas, including transportation, so if you need to get somewhere you either have to walk or drive yourself.) Jim had already arranged the seats, so we met him at his rooms, along with his other guests, one of whom, Michael, George knew from a party at Derek and Rory’s in Washington.

The crowd had again queued up for admission, but not quite in the same numbers as Christmas Eve for the carol service. We were again ushered to the choir. Today we were on the Cantoris side, but not directly behind the choir, so the blend was better, and still a good view of Mr. Cleobury. The choir sang the Mozart Spatzenmesse for the Ordinary of the Mass. The congregational singing was Christmas carols. The place was packed again. The chaplain gave a rousing social-consciousness sermon in the person of Herod.

Jim’s entourage was going for a pint at the local pub, The Eagle. I wanted to take more pictures of the chapel in the bright sunlight, so I went out to do that. Christmas is one of the few times that the great west doors of the chapel are opened, so I was able to get a few shots of the interior and the organ. (Photography is not usually allowed in the chapel.) As we were getting ready to leave, Stephen Cleobury was heading back to the Gibbs Building, so Jim introduced us to him and mentioned that I was an organist from Cleveland. Mr. Cleobury and I had a brief conversation about Karen and Chick Holtkamp. (Karen is Cleobury’s artist manager in the U.S.)

A few drinks later, we got back to the flat about 3:00. We made a courtesy call at Tessa Gardner’s house to deliver some Christmas gifts from Derek and Rory. She introduced us to her guest, a lovely lady named Sylvia. We had a short time of civilized chat, then excused ourselves to come back and start our own Christmas dinner.

George took responsibility for the roasted pheasant, although in the process he managed to set off the smoke detector, to very loud noise. It is a fancy wired system, so taking a battery out was not an option. I did discover the buttons on the annunciator panel in the front hallway how to re-set the system and turn off the alarms, so we did not end up with the Cambridge Fire Department at our doorstep.

Besides the pheasant, the rest of the menu included roasted, smashed garlic potatoes (thanks, Nigella Lawson for the recipe); Brussels sprouts with chilis and garlic; a cranberry/port wine sauce (thanks, Sainsbury’s). The starter was smoked salmon, very mild, and we had our fancy steamed chocolate Christmas pudding with the liquid chocolate center for dessert.

We finally finished dinner about 10:30, and then washed dishes, so it was after midnight by the time we were able to go to bed.

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