As I walked into Charing Cross station this evening, I heard a familiar refrain. Familiar for this time of year, that is – the sound of carol singers, the first time I’ve heard them this year, as it happens. At first I assumed that one of the shops was playing some festive tunes on its PA system, but in actual fact it was a group of a couple of dozen people who were serenading commuters and raising money for Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospitals.
The music took me back, for I was once a chorister and so I do know my way around most Christmas carols. I stood and listened for a while (the singers were accompanied by an accordion-player, I noted) before scanning the crowd for one of the collectors. Having clocked a man in a Santa hat and a high-visibility tabard, I walked up to him and dropped some pocket change into his collection-bucket; my reward was a polite thank-you and a “Merry Christmas”.
This was followed in quick succession by a tap on the shoulder. I turned round to behold a young man who like me was passing through the station. “Is this yours?” he asked. He had in his hand a black glove which looked remarkably like one of mine.
It was, of course – I’d de-gloved on one hand to dig out my change for the collection. Must’ve dropped it in the process. Good thing that guy spotted it – and an even better thing that he picked it up and told me! With thoughts in my head along the lines of “goodwill to men”, it was now my turn to give a polite thank-you and the compliments of the season.