A brief treatise on the unmatched joy of a bad holiday movie, watched in Pyjamas

“I am not enjoying this ironically,” I tell LSH.

We are on the couch, watching A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, the second instalment in a Netflix trilogy set in the fictional country of Aldovia.

“I am enjoying it unironically,” I elaborate, unprompted. “I am legitimately, genuinely, authentically enjoying it.”

“Yeah,” he replies. “It’s cracking.” He reaches for another cocoa-covered almond.

LSH does not have the same instinct to analyze his joy until it becomes excreted in a blog post.

The plot follows a New York journalist named Amber who is sent to the Kingdom of Aldovia in search of a scoop on a playboy prince who is soon to become King.

As a result of a series of farfetched mishaps, she ends up masquerading as a tutor to his little sister, Princess Emily. Her closeness to palace affairs does indeed land her a career-transforming scoop. But feelings get in the way…

Oh, don’t they always? The action takes place in a snowy castle in Romania, which may or may not have inspired the fictional Aldovia. The country’s inhabitants speak with stiff British accents, except for the chef, who sounds eastern European.

The first film in the series is the love story. The second is about the wedding, with a fascinating subplot about economic irregularities in the Kingdom. The third, which we will watch tomorrow morning in our Pyjamas, is called A Christmas Prince: A Royal Baby. I have no idea what it will be about.

It is ridiculous, on all levels. An exercise in cliched box ticking. Not quite Emily in Paris standard but nonetheless, as LSH pointed out, deeply offensive to the people of Aldovia, if there were any.

It is exactly what we needed in the twilight days of this wretched year. Two glorious hours of predictable nonsense, in a beautiful, snowy setting. Far away from grey Berlin. Far away from the flattened atmosphere of Zoom catchups that were supposed to feel festive but don’t really.

Far away from the Berliner Morgenpost alerts about the number of people the virus has killed or hospitalized today.

Far away from the daily train journeys to work that I used to love to spend people-watching but that now fill me with anxiety as I scan my fellow passengers for mask compliance.

Far away from the existential threats posed by the pandemic, by climate change, by the creeping sense that the absences induced by the virus will have a longer, lasting impact. That a small part of our identity is at stake. That the pints and mince pies we had in Mulligans last year on the way home from Dublin airport were profound somehow. That the nostalgia of walking past my old school in the rain was a one-off. That my nephew and niece are growing up between video calls. That the scone and latte I enjoy, religiously, every year with a friend in Howard’s Way in Rathgar, were timestamped without my knowledge.

In Aldovia, where princes ride black beauties in snowy landscapes and economic crises are easily resolved, things are different.

Tomorrow morning, we watch the final film. As today and yesterday, we will move directly from bed to couch. There will be tealights, and coffee laced with amaretto.

And for a few hours, life will be as simple, and as beautiful as it is in Aldovia.

LSH and I sojourning in Aldovia