Dates: The other day I was in the supermarket and saw some horrendously priced ‘Dates on the Vine’. In the words of Harry Enfield’s ‘Angry Frank’: Oi! No! Including the TWIG on which they grow is not ‘added value’, it is short change.
Dates, of course, should come in oblong boxes with rounded ends, emblazoned, like something Alice might find during her wanderings down the rabbit hole, with the legend Eat Me on the front. In addition to the oblong box dates also need to be eaten with their own special two-pronged plastic spork – a strange, gnarly looking thing resembling an anaemic twiglet. This will eventually snap when utilised to prise a particularly sticky and obstinate fruit from the bottom of the box, impaling the wrist of the unfortunate consumer in a scene reminiscent of one of Hammer Horror’s finest and/or a spectacularly gory game of Operation™. That hungover nurse at A&E [see Baubles] really is going to have her work cut out for her this year, isn’t she?
Another acceptable method of consuming dates that came to prominence in the late eighties is pitted and stuffed with marzipan. Mmmmm… … Marzipan… …
Dickens: ‘A Dickensian Christmas,’ we cry, ‘what could be more traditional?!’ Sadly the reality of a Dickensian Christmas is rank poverty and death from hypothermia (see ‘The Little Match Girl’), and/or – as in the case of Tiny Tim – untreated rickets. Of course, TT was saved in the end by the intervention of a rich and kindly benefactor, but as we look at Britain today with its ever-increasing wealth divide I think we would be foolish to put our faith in spectre-and-the-fear-of-eternal-damnation-fuelled philanthropy to keep the wolf from the door. Bah Humbug to Dickens. Please give generously if you can to your local food banks, homeless shelters, and street support charities etc. If you are going to be reliant on those charities yourself then may God (if she/he/it exists) and the Spirits of Christmas (ditto) watch over you and yours.
Dove of Peace: A traditional symbol of Christmas, but not one that should be taken for granted. Christmas does bring families together, it’s true, but this often includes family members who shouldn’t be allowed in the same country at the same time let alone the same room. The Dove of Peace often turns out to be a cuckoo in the nest, and it’s probably safer to avoid inviting any birds in other than the turkey, duck or goose you plan on eating for dinner. You have been warned.
Drunks: Drunks at Christmas come in many varieties, the saddest undoubtedly being that occasional drinker who imbibes only during the festive season and/or at family weddings who plumps for series of Jaeger Bombs rather than their usual half o’ lager under the misguided apprehension that something containing large amounts of the non-alcoholic, energy-giving ‘Soft Drink’ Red Bull is likely to do them more good than harm. Go easy on them; even if it’s your new party frock / shirt they vomit over or your shoulder they cry on, they will be hurting far more than you.
Even seasoned year-round drinkers like yours truly can come unstuck during the Christmas season, but fortunately there are a number of helpful little ditties we can rely on to steer us right: ‘Beer and wine, you’ll be fine’; ‘Wine and beer, you’ll be queer’; ‘Whisky makes you frisky’; ‘Brandy makes you randy’; etc. Unfortunately there is not one advising ‘Bacardi turns you into a vomiting zombie for three days straight ensuring that you never want to touch the stuff again as long as you live’ – advice I would have welcomed at the age of sixteen when Bacardi and Coke commanded poll position in the ‘it’s served like alcohol but tastes like fizzy-pop’ charts. Take heed.
Oh, I can advise after a particularly cringe-worthy outing at the height of the summer during a local music festival that the ‘wine and beer’ adage may well hold true. Apologies all round on that one…
Finally, a word of warning: Keep a wary eye out too for the aggressive drunk and the maudlin drunk – both can seriously ruin your evening. The other models, to paraphrase Douglas Adams, are Mostly Harmless.
Dr Who Christmas Special: This is quite a modern tradition. I don’t keep it.
It’s a pity, because Dr Who aside we don’t really have any ‘must watch’ specials anymore. Gone are the glory days of Morecombe and Wise and Stanley Baxter (except the endless repeats on BBC4 and ITV 3), and somehow Keith Lemon waggling his pixelated wanger at Fearne Cotton and/or the omnibus edition of that miseryfest Eastenders doesn’t have the same appeal. And of course everything is available to watch at leisure on catch up anyway, so why struggle to gather the whole family together at the same time, when you can individually watch whatever you want to watch without the inconvenience of other human beings interrupting to try to communicate with you? For god’s sake – if they want to do that why not just send you a text?