I love Christmas. I love all of it, by which I suppose I mean its twin poles: the tatty and the austere. I love the story of the nativity. It has everything: the sudden drama (the donnée) of the annunciation; Joseph's dilemma; the suspense when they get to Nazareth and then a denouement in which the tiniest, most vulnerable person in the room is also the Deus ex machina. What a plot! But, then, I also love tinsel and bad Christmas television and those songs which, as I write elsewhere, sound to me like tills. I think it's partly to do with being brought up in the '70s. It was a dour decade, it's true, but every December was a kind of spring, with lights and Christmas annuals and decorations suddenly blossoming everywhere.
This issue is my version of one of those annuals, or, if you'd rather, it's like one of those adverts where people that you knew would all turn up together at a party. (In my imagination, it's always the actors from the Carry On films but I'm not attempting to make comparisons.) One Hand Clapping started publishing online in July and we're delighted to have so quickly become part of an international community of poets, as well as to have been lucky enough to feature work from a whole host of brilliant and successful writers, artists and musicians. Those of you who've been paying attention will notice that the contributors to this issue are almost all contributors who we have published before and that they are nearly all writing about Christmas. You will have to allow me the festive licence to imagine that the following have all got together for a celebration: Noddy Holder, Ali Smith, Paul Muldoon, Lydia Davis, David Harsent, John Burnside, Fran Lock, Martin Parr, Nick Coleman, Steve Shepherd, Louise Peterkin, Agnes Marton, Jo Balmer, Maggie Sawkins, Ben Morgan, Pascale Petit, Stephen Boyce, Elodie Rose Barnes, Benjamin Wal, Nkateko Masinga, Richard Helyar, Marco Galvani, Rachel Burns, Claire Hughes, Brandon Robshaw, Bridget Khursheed, Nicola Nathan, Finola Scott and Jennifer A. McGowan. I'm grateful to all of them and to every person who has contributed this year: they've helped to make this magazine something that I didn't imagine was possible back in the dark days of the first lockdown. Mostly, the last twelve months have been a time of great anxiety and sorrow and I'm sure that everybody in this edition would want me to raise a glass, to wish you the very best Christmas possible and to hope that you all have a much safer and happier 2021.