Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

I’ve never really thought of a red London bus as a chariot. But that’s exactly what we travelled in yesterday. Our bus driver told us so. Well, actually, he sang it so.

Travelling back from Greenwich to our home yesterday, our bus driver sang “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” at the top of his lungs, with all his heart and to the joy, horror and entertainment of his travelling charges. The cynical commuters wondered if he was p***ed drunk, some didn’t notice, some smiled coyly and two people alighted earlier than planned. The self-confessed “drunken bum” next to my niece and me was endlessly entertained. The proud owner of approximately two teeth, he chattered constantly and laughed like a drain. If he could stand up, he’d have been a stand-up. But his seated banter broadened our smiles all the way home, and the driver’s singing warmed my heart.

“He’s quite religious, I think. He’s trying to save you. Not me; I’m just a drunken bum. But he thinks he can save you. I don’t think he can, but that’s what he’s trying to do.”

Just another day in our joy-filled Christmas season. Here’s a short journey through our past week.

As we were due to leave London on Christmas Eve, we had to amend our tradition and see our Christmas movie a few days earlier. Burlesque proved to be a fun, lively and heart-warming introduction to the season – it totally fit the bill.

On Thursday evening, we went to the South Bank to visit the German market that appears next to the London Eye every Christmas. This is what we saw:

London Eye and the German Market at the South Bank, Christmas 2010
Stalls at the South Bank, Christmas 2010
Colourful carousel at the South Bank, Christmas 2010

It was VERY cold and we soon sought shelter and warmth within the hushed walls of the National Theatre, where a ragtime pianist was preparing for a free concert. We sat and listened to him for a while, before getting a call from a friend who was on her way to the Christmas Spectacular at the O2 Arena. She had a few spare tickets and invited us to join her.

What an amazing show – if we hadn’t been in the Christmas spirit already, that would have blasted us into it faster than the speed of light. What a special concert: an audience of 20,000, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Choral Society, the Capital Voices and four, world-class soloists who took us through Christmas song after Christmas song, some of which we were invited to sing along to. The last audience-included number was a rousing version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, complete with actions for each gift! Then the four singers ended the show with a medley of Christmas songs, punctuated with fireworks, exploding glitter balls and a shower of “snow”. What a special and unexpected Christmas gift the show turned out to be.

We left for south London on Christmas Eve to spend Christmas Day with dear friends from our university days. If we couldn’t be with our family, spending the day with wonderful friends that we’ve known pretty much forever was an excellent substitute. We ate well, laughed plenty, toasted our absent family and friends and listened to the Queen’s speech on television. We played games, did hideously badly at an Oxford-devised pub quiz and reminisced up a storm. What more could we ask for? A bit of snow, perhaps? Although we had no fresh snow, everything was covered in white and it felt for all the world that we had our first white Christmas. Close enough to make me happy.

So, in this build up to the end of 2010, may I wish you all much joy, beautiful relationships, happy work, fulfilling spiritual journeys, and may you dream, find or fulfil your dreams in 2011. I feel completely out of touch with my blogging buddies and the cyber world that I inhabit most week days. Please forgive me for not visiting blogs or commenting on all your posts; know that I love you all, my special readers and friends, and I will, like Arnie, be back.

Thank you, Mr Bus Driver, for keeping my Christmas joy alive yesterday with your delight-filled noise and for carrying us home in style. Keep singing and may your musical dreams find their chance to break out of that dreary uniform; you never know who may be listening.

Sunshine signing off for today.


36 thoughts on “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

  1. I love the bus driver singing! And that carousel horse is beautifully painted…were they all different?

    It sounds like you had a wonderful time! Looking forward to reading more adventures soon!


  2. A singing bus driver sounds wonderful especially the being able to watch the people around for reactions. A little like the old Candid Camera Show on wheels.

    What an amazing concert that must have been. IThe place must have been huge to seat so many.
    It would be fun to get together with my old college buddies and hear all of our stories again. I am blessed to spend my lifetime with my best college buddy ever, Dean.

    Many blessings to you and your family Sunshine! A big bear hug to my new friend this year, jeanne

    1. Thanks for the big bear hug, Jeanne – right back at my new friend, too!
      The bus driver was just delightful – I can’t stop smiling when I think about him!
      Blessings to you and your lovely family too xx

  3. So glad you had a happy holiday, Sunshine. There’s really nothing quite like an evening spent with good friends. What a lovely way to end a year, and what a great way to kick off a new one. A very happy and prosperous New Year to you, dear friend. 🙂

  4. Sounds like a delightful holiday! It’s important to spend Christmas with friends and family and away from laptops and online responsibilites–good for you. I’ve missed your posts, but look forward to more in the coming days. Happy New Year, my friend!

  5. Ahhhh…..so jealous! So so very jealous! All sounded stunning. I can not wait to be able to have a white christmas. Tick it off my Bucket List!!! When does the new job start? xx

  6. The holidays are notorious for making us want to live in the real world… which is very good. Love your stories, as always. You make London come alive. 🙂

    Happy New Year!

  7. I think it’s fabulous that the bus driver sang and that he brought a smile to someone who maybe desperately needed a smile. Christmas in London looks magical and the merry-go-round is gorgeous. Hugs, Diane

    1. I agree with you, Diane – it was such a wonderful thing for the driver to do and for us all to hear.
      There is definitely a magical charm about Christmas here in London – I love it xx

  8. Oh, Sunshine, what a fabulous post. It captures the magic of dawdling round this great city, the markets and the theatre and the shows and everything else: and all-white, to boot! Happy New Year to you and your family.
    Lovely pictures 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Kate – this amazing city is just bursting at its seams with things to do and see. Love it, love it!
      Happy New Year to you and your lovely Shrewsday family too xx

  9. I must confess, I have not read your two posts before this one, as I saw they had to do with Christmas and I just couldn’t read them during the thick of the season. Perhaps later in the new year I will take a look. It sounds like you had a lovely holiday season and I am happy for you and your loved ones. Having extremely strained relationships with my daughter, grandson and the rest of my family, the holidays kinda suck for me. I tried to remedy the feelings with baking lots of cookies and giving them all away to co-workers, and store clerks, the mailman, etc. I thought Christmas day would come and go without incident, but no such luck. Katie and I ended up spending the better part of the day in opposite corners of our home and by nightfall, I found myself sitting by the edge of the river in my car, wanting to drive it straight on in there. But, as you can see, I am still here. Somehow I thought of something that tickled me, I started laughing like a loon, and pointed my car in the direction of our sanctuary. Don’t know why I am telling you this, but there must be a reason. Whatever. I am glad you are a part of my world, even if it is just the cyber world.
    Lots of love here for you, my sunshiny friend!

    1. Ah, dear Patty, I’m so sorry to hear how hard Christmas was for you. Difficult family relationships really hurt and somehow it’s impossible to escape reflecting on them during the holidays. I’m sorry you were in such a dark place, but I am SO glad you are still here and that you found laughter and your reason to be. Please take special care, don’t stop telling me stuff and I’ll always be sending you major hugs across the miles.
      Happy New Year, lots of love and I pray for peace in your heart xx

  10. That sounds like MY kind of bus–I mean, Chariot–driver…
    what blessings–they are EVERYWHERE–if we but look!
    your posts always make me smile–from way down deep inside of me.
    Happy New Year!

    1. True, dear jane, if we but look. Treasures everywhere.
      Thank you for your comment – such a wonderful thing to say; I’m so glad to make you smile deep inside – that warms my heart
      Happy New Year to you and your lovely family xx

  11. Darn it, Sunshine, whenever I read one of these little slice-of-life dispatches about what you’re doing in London, I want to jump on a plane and go there. Sweetie and I went before the kids were born and could easily picture ourselves living there. Glad it really is as great a place to live as we imagined it would be!

    1. Your comment made me smile, Todd – what a lovely thing to say. London is a great place to live – I hope you and Sweetie will get a chance to experience living here for a time too.

    1. I feel the same way, oma – I just LOVED that he sang. Every time I think about it, it makes me smile. I thanked him as we got off the bus, and he seemed really pleased.
      When shall I meet you at the airport?
      Thanks so much for coming by – I’m very happy to welcome you to my blog.

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