Christmas A – Z… “R”

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Regrets: Christmas for whatever reason seems to be a time when we can’t help but look back at our lives and review some of the complete and utter cock-ups we’ve made along the way. It probably has something to do with the amount of alcohol consumed and sad drunklooking at the world through the (Mateus?) Rosé tinted glasses of hindsight. This kind of maudlin navel-gazing is usually completely pointless – there’s generally no going back, and even if we could the chances are we would make the same mistakes again. That’s life. The best thing you can do is open another bottle and get even more pissed. It won’t solve anything, but then neither will regrets. Wine, beer, whisky etc are usually less bitter-tasting than regrets. Even when drinking bitter.  If you can – reasonably, without causing others distress – go back and apologise for past cock-ups it’s probably a good idea to do so, but don’t go pinning your hopes on any unlikely happy endings; just make your peace and move on. Good luck… Continue reading

Christmas A – Z… “Q”

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Quail: Over the past few years “medieval” three and even five bird roasts have become all the rage. I blame Huge Fuggly-Duckingstool – I seem to recall it being one of his Christmas Specials that set the whole trend off. That and the placenta pate my family now expect every Boxing Day.

Anyhoo – this year I’ve decided to go one, or even several, better. The quail isn’t the first bird in my roast or the last, but it does begin with Q and I’m writing Q today, so that’s good enough for me.

Anyhoo – my roast will start with a lark’s tongue, which I will stuff with a wild boar and white truffle duxelle before rolling and tying. This will then be inserted in a plucked and dressed Bee Hummingbird, which will then be inserted in a Weebill, which will then be inserted in a Goldcrest, which will then be inserted in a Pardolate, and so on and so forth until I get to Ostrich. Sadly the Madagascan Elephant Bird has been extinct for around a Quailthousand years, but given recent breakthroughs in cloning techniques I hope one day to see one of these fine birds grace my table as the final tier of my three-hundred bird roast. God knows how I’m going to fit it in the oven. Continue reading

Christmas A – Z… “P”

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PANTO: Old hat, I know, but I love a good panto, me. Well that’s not strictly true, because it depends on the company I’m keeping while watching them, but give me a couple of excited kids who are completely caught up in the whole thing and I love a good panto, me. Which is a pity, because good pantos these days seem few and far between.

A good panto needs a beautiful woman as the leading man, a couple of old poofs as ugly women, and another beautiful woman for the beautiful woman playing the leading man’s role to fall in love with. An odd combination I’m sure you’ll agree, but a winning one that had until recently stood the test of time.

mother gooseNow, though, pantos are often not pantos at all but “shows”, and second rate shows at that! They still do “the business” – be it the laundry scene with wishy-washy or the kitchen scene with Widow Twankey – and hisses and boos and behind yous etc, but this often seems more a case of the cast going through the motions than putting their hearts and souls into it. Continue reading

Christmas A – Z… “O”

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Old Father Time: Is traditionally associated with Christmas and New Year, and the passage of time more fondly recalled during this season than any other. As childhood summers are remembered as endless days of warmth and glorious sunshine so too are our pre-pubescent winters fondly re-imagined as annual wonderlands of snow-filled fun; a parade of White Christmases (more of which, probably, in eight day’s time) spent dashing through the snow in mittens and hand-knitted woollies, and baking tray sleigh rides down the bank on the green at the bottom of the road. And it’s all bollocks, of course.

Winters then, just as now, were cold, damp, miserable experiences that killed off pensioners by the truckload (or possibly cartload, depending on how far back your personal memories travel) and left us shivering in our homes like victims of Parkinson’s disease, moaning about the costs of our soaring fuel bills. But let’s not dwell on the bigger picture, because it’s Christmas after all, and Nostalgia is the name of the game as far as Christmas goes.

My own childhood memories, up until the age of about eleven when it all went tits up, are bloody wonderful. I also carry the bittersweet emotional baggage of six older siblings vicariously in the Santa Swagbag on my shoulder, in the form of anecdotes passed around and shared at Christmas like a tin of Lucky Numbers. Continue reading

Christmas A – Z… “N”

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New Year’s Resolution: Ha! Honestly, I arks ya! *tsk*

The biggest problem with NYR’s is that they allow no compromise or wriggle room – they are usually deals of the “all or nothing” kind. This means that the whole thing goes tits up on the first transgression, which usually occurs within about the first forty-eight hours. Generally speaking, the biggies for NYR’s are giving things up (smoking, drinking, eating, gambling…), and New Year, coming at the height of the whole festive partaaay season, is by definition probably the single most difficult period to follow through on any of those good intentions. How, for instance, are you supposed to give up overeating when you’ve still got four packets of mince pies in the cupboard and all the strawberry and orange crèmes left over from the tin of January1CalendarQuality street? The fact that you don’t like the orange and strawberry crèmes is neither here nor there – however disgusting the centre might be that outer is made of PURE CHOCOLATE, and at some point you’re going to find yourself scraping at the crud in the middle with a cotton bud and gobbling the shell out like a starving badger going at a discarded KFC bargain bucket. Continue reading