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Viscountess Boudica’s Christmas

December 25, 2013
by the gentle author

Let it be said that if anyone in the East End knows how to keep the spirit of Christmas, it is the Viscountess Boudica of Bethnal Green. At this time of year, her tiny flat near Columbia Rd is transformed into a secret Winter Wonderland where the visitor may forget the chill of the gloomy streets outside and enter a realm of magic, fantasy and romance in which the Viscountess holds court like a benevolent sprite or fairy godmother, celebrating the season of goodwill in her own inimitable style.

Boudica had already been at work for weeks when I arrived with my camera to capture the Christmas spectacle for your delight, yet she was still putting the finishing touches to her display even as I walked through the door. “You see these bells?” she said, reaching up to add them to the colourful forest of paper decorations suspended from the ceiling,“I bought them in Woolworths  in Tottenham for 45p in 1984. When I think of all the people they have looked down upon – if only these bells could talk, they’ve seen it all!”

Evidence of the season was apparent wherever I turned my eyes, from the illuminated coloured trees that filled each corner – giving the impression that the room was actually a woodland glade – to the table where Boudica was wrapping her gifts and writing cards, to the corner where a stack of festive records awaited her selection, to the innumerable Christmas knick-knacks and figures that crowded every surface, and the light-up reindeer outside in the garden, glimpsed discreetly through the net curtains. “This is thirty years worth of collecting,” she explained, gesturing to the magnificent display enfolding us, “that set of lights is older than I am.”

In common with many, this is an equivocal time for Viscountess Boudica who does not have happy childhood memories of Christmas. “It was hell,” she admitted to me frankly, “We didn’t have any money to buy presents and, in our family, Christmas was always when fights and arguments would break out. The reason I have so many decorations now is to make up for all the years when I didn’t have any.” Yet Boudica remembers small acts of kindness too. “The local shops used to save me their balloons and give me scraps of fabric that I used to make clothes for the kittens in the barn – and that was the beginning of me making my own outfits,” she recalled fondly.

“People should remember what it’s all about,” Boudica assured me, linking her own childhood with the Christian narrative,“It’s about a little boy who didn’t have a home. They should think of others and remember there’s poor people here in Bethnal Green.” Naturally, I asked the Viscountess if she had a Christmas message for the world and, without a second thought, she came to back to me with her declaration –  “Be kind to each other and get rid of discrimination!”

Boudica contemplates her Christmas listening – will it be Andy Williams or Jim Reeves this year?

“Whenever I hang up these bells, I think of all the people they have looked down upon over the years”

Wrapping up her gifts.

Filling her stocking

Nollaig Shona Dhaoibh!

Drawings copyright © Viscountess Boudica

You may like to read my other Christmas stories

On Christmas Night in the City

A Child’s Christmas in Devon

20 Responses leave one →
  1. Cherub permalink
    December 25, 2013

    Viscountess Boudica, your trees look marvelous. We need colourful people like you to brighten the drabness in the world. A very Merry Christmas to you.

  2. December 25, 2013

    Kindred spirits methinks , both you and the Viscountess really do shine a light on the positive while being very aware of the darker side of life,realizing that we must remember that we cannot have light without also some dark .And goodness does the light in her flat really shine out ,I see she is giving somebody an Irish dictionary , nice present.Take care both of you total sweethearts 🙂

  3. jerseydevil permalink
    December 25, 2013

    I don’t think that I’ve ever been more confused. But, Happy Christmas Viscountess and G.A.

  4. December 25, 2013

    Happy Christmas Viscountess Boudica and kind wishes to everyone xxx

  5. annie permalink
    December 25, 2013

    Wonderful! (where does she keep all the stuff during the year?!)
    Happy Christmas to you both and all the other readers of the great Spitalfields Life!

  6. Sarah permalink
    December 25, 2013

    Lovely colourful person in marvellous inspiring home. She sets a standard to be emulated but surely never surpassed!
    Is there a chance we may find out about Mr. Pussy’s Xmas?
    Love to him, Boudicca, and you, from Sarah.

  7. Emma permalink
    December 25, 2013

    Merry Christmas – and thank you for such wonderful stories!

  8. December 25, 2013

    Marvellous decorations! Boudica, you really bring light, warmth and goodness to these dark days. Merry Christmas to you both and to all other readers of Spitalfields life!

  9. December 25, 2013

    Merry Christmas, Gentle Author! What a great seasonal post, all the best to Boudica too.

  10. December 25, 2013

    Wishing Boudica a happy and prosperous new year. Long may she reign.

  11. December 25, 2013

    What joy and abundance! A happy Christmas day to you both.xx

  12. December 25, 2013

    A very special MERRY CHRISTMAS and all the best for the NEW YEAR 2014 to Viscountess Boudica Denvorgilla Veronica Scarlet Redd — Because she is so SPESHAL…!

    Love an Peace ACHIM 🙂

  13. Mike Brown permalink
    December 25, 2013

    Happy Christmas GA and many thanks for all your posts over the past year

  14. December 25, 2013


  15. Laney permalink
    December 25, 2013

    you, your flat, the drawings and photos are all fabulous! Have yourself a very merry Christmas, New Year and 2014 x

  16. Catherine permalink
    December 25, 2013

    Merry Christmas VB and GA, I really like the bull terriers you have. Hope you have the decorations up for a long time.

  17. jeannette permalink
    December 25, 2013

    merry Christmas, lady boudica. love. peace. thanks.

  18. Ros permalink
    December 25, 2013

    I hope you have had a nice Christmas Day Viscountess and that you feel proud and happy that your warm glowing wonderland has been seen by people from all over the world

  19. acorn permalink
    December 27, 2013

    A great Xmas story. But why is it illustrated with photos of Bill Wyman??
    luv this site

  20. wayne permalink
    April 22, 2014

    Vicountess Boudica is an example to us all
    What a wonderful peroson
    We need charectors like this to help the world go round

    Long may she rein in the best og health

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