Until Boxing Day.
Early in the afternoon, at a drinks party in the depths of south London, I was introduced to a Frenchman, resident in this country and married to an English woman. The initial small talk exhausted, we moved - inexorably you may think – to the situation in which an EU citizen finds himself, living and working in a country which is veering vers une catastrophe.
I ventured a mildly critical remark about Government policy and the shambles that is the Tory party. Common ground, surely.
“Non! It is that anti-semitic moron Corbyn who is to blame. He is a moron. A moron!”
I was taken aback by his vehemence and temporarily speechless. I remembered the promises I had made – to Jill and myself – about discussing politics with total strangers and resolved to remain calm, reasoned, civilized; to eschew ad hominem attacks; to demonstrate those qualities which I find attractive in Corbyn himself; to set an example to this angry young Frenchman.
I took a large gulp of the cru bourgeois Médoc which our host had provided for us, and inhaled deeply on my vaper. I was ready to respond and, I hoped, to maintain a form of entente cordiale.
“Au contraire” I said. “Monsieur Corbyn est un homme intelligent qui a horreur des attaques personnelles, préférant se concentrer sur les politiques. Certainement pas un crétin. Et certainement pas le politicien responsable du fiasco actuel."
"Phouf. Il est raciste, il est trotskiste, il est stupide."
What can one say? My Gallic shrug was not sufficient response, but it was all I had short of physical violence. So I shrugged as best I could and seized my empty glass.
"Vous avez tort" I told him, "mais maintenant j'ai un besoin urgent d'un autre verre." I walked towards the bar with as much dignity as I could muster, shaking my head with what I hoped he would interpret as more sorrow than anger.
In retrospect, I am sorry. Sorry that I was not minded to argue for longer with him, sorry that his view of Corbyn was moulded exclusively by the right wing press, sorry that someone who should be a natural ally was so clearly opposed to us.
Sorry too for the sorry state this country has come to.
He was still holding forth about Corbyn as we left to drive back to our pro-Remain, pro-Corbyn bubble in Leamington. I tapped him on the shoulder.
"Bonne année" I said.
Today from the everysmith vaults: The Bob gurus have been telling me each Christmas that Christmas in the Heart is a fine album. I am not convinced, but it plays once a year in this household. And the time is now.