CHRISTMAS IN CLERKENWELL

You may not have known it but the Christmas Cracker was invented in Clerkenwell. A certain Thomas Smith, confectioner, based in Goswell Road developed it in the 1840s from a Parisian paper-wrapped bon-bon by adding a written message, a toy, a mild explosive and eventually a paper crown.

I had a very religious upbringing so sadly, I am less inclined towards belief these days but it was lovely to walk to Westminster on Christmas Eve for the carols in the abbey. As we stood and the choir sang, I noticed some of my fellow genius loci (and sometime antagonists) but, in honour of the occasion, and the place - elected to set aside centuries old rivalries - well, temporarily at least.

The abbey is always wonderful, not least because it contains 'Poets Corner' - a chapel or chamber which is the very epicentre of English Culture with its extraordinary array of tributes to the literary, musical, political and spiritual heroes of these islands.

Afterwards to Trafalgar Square to inspect the Christmas tree - an annual gift from our Norwegian friends in recognition of British efforts on their behalf in the war against "Hister of the crooked cross'. Very nice - but I thought the crib opposite to be rather feeble - perhaps it is a victim of the credit crunch. The bells of St Martin's-in-the-Field were pealing as we walked backwards home through the frost. Lovely

Anyway, here is that other tune I mentioned and briefly posted. It is rather perky - so watch out. Oh, and a very happy new year to you too.

A DREAM AT THE END OF THE YEAR

What's in a number? Not much it seems. I hear the word 'trillion' almost every day now and as this decade draws to a close there seems doesn't seem to be much fuss being made about it at all. Perhaps that's because the last time - the millennium - seemed such a grand numerical event. Even though another day is just another day, it did feel then as though passing from December 31st 1999 into January 1st 2000 was a big deal. I seem to remember I was high that evening - sitting with friends somewhere up on a hillside above the San Francisco rooftops, watching fireworks explode into gigantic red hearts over the bay. On reflection, they may have just been inside my head.

Almost ten years later, sitting here looking out over the London rooftops, I'm thinking that on a personal level, the noughties were rather a momentus decade. Ten years of The Real Tuesday Weld for a start (the first ten years if they let me). As I am sure for most people, there were personal tragedies, deaths, births, lost and found loves, revelations, travel, unexpected meetings, a lot of surprises, adventures and new friends. I miss my father, I find myself generally feeling slightly stunned but perhaps more than anything, as ever, I feel very fortunate. I'm blessed with amazing family and friends. Thanks so much to all who have supported us and to all the people we work and play music with.

After 'I Lucifer' I thought: "I'll write about Love because there's not much worth saying about anything else". After 'The Return of the Clerkenwell Kid' I thought: 'I'll write about death because there's not much left to say about Love'. After 'The London Book of the Dead', I thought: 'I'll just say nothing for a while' and so, for the last year couple of years, as well as the touring and all that I've really been making instrumental music for films, producing other people and writing songs for others to sing.

As ever at this time, we make our little audio christmas card to send out. It's expanded in content over the years and now become quite something in itself - a proper greetings card by Catherine that you can send to a loved one and an entire mini album of new music. Some of this is from recent projects and collaborations and there is a sneak preview of what is next. I'm very pleased that it features our friends The Puppini Sisters, Louis Franck and Joe Coles.

If you like you can get it from this place

For you, there is also a little something else. Enjoy, and I hope that this decade has been just the forerunner, the entree, the opening act for all the wonders that are to come.

With very best wishes