Christmas A – Z… “I”



Is for…

Ice: Scrooge was famously visited by three Christmas Spirits: those of Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas that may be.[1] Your own Christmas celebrations will almost certainly include spirits, but unless you happen to be Derek Acorah or some other lying bastard charlatan spiritualist they are more likely to be of the alcoholic beverage variety. And you’ll need ice to go with ‘em. Lots of it.

If you’re one of those lucky people who has an ice dispenser on the front of their fridge-freezer and one of those even luckier people whose ice dispenser didn’t stop working two days after the guarantee expired good luck to you, but if you’re planning on making your own, DON’T.

While generally objecting to water being sold in supermarkets when the UK is equipped with such a reliable and universal mains supply, I think the ease and convenience of a couple of bags of ice from the supermarket freezer at Christmas can be justified. So go for it. You have my blessing.

whiskyMany years ago my mum bought a pack of Pink Elephants to replace our regular ice cubes. These were small, semi-translucent, plastic mouldings filled with a liquid we assumed to be water that you used to replace ice in drinks to stop the drinks being watered down. It was an hilarious joke based on the conceit perpetuated by Walt Disney in his full length animation feature Dumbo (1941) that people hallucinate a parade of pink elephants when under the alfluence of incahol . It is, of course, untrue, as is the main premise of the film that an elephant with extra-large ears will be able to fly.

Disney was renowned for this kind of irresponsible speculation, and many children died as a consequence, most notably following screenings of the aforementioned Dumbo, and/or Peter Pan (1953), when impressionable children threw themselves out of open windows in the belief that they could fly, and Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966) which saw many youngsters perish from balloon and bee-sting related injuries. Walt Disney, as any fule kno, reputedly had his head cryogenically frozen on death (another use for ice! This stuff is amazing!), in hopes of being resuscitated at some future juncture. The no-win-no-fee ambulance-chasing litigation lawyers are on standby, as are the grieving parents they represent…

BUT: I digress. Again…

My mum’s pink elephants were a complete failure, both from the point of view of people choking on them and because some people wanted (or perhaps needed) their drinks watered down. Even worse, they didn’t actually chill drinks very well, what with plastic generally warming back up to room temperature far more quickly than ice does.

The pink elephants were finally discarded after my uncle Jimmy accidentally swallowed one. We thought he would just pass it out naturally within a day or so, but it turned out the plastic used in the elephant’s production wasn’t really designed to cope with large pinke elephantamounts of stomach acid. Even worse, the “water” filling them wasn’t water at all, but a highly toxic diethylene glycol gel. Uncle Jimmy was dead within hours. All in all, the light ripple of polite laughter generated by the elephants when mum first got them out wasn’t really worth it.


I-Pads, I-Phones, I-Anything: The epitome of style over content and Emperor’s New Clothes social insecurity. Still topping the I WANT lists of millions this year, despite the free U2 album that nobody wanted and couldn’t delete, and the unintentionally pliable casing. If you’re one of the sheep people hoping to receive an Apple branded penis-extension/fanny-fluffer gift in your stocking this year I hope you get what you’re asking for.


Incense: All sorts of smelly things get drafted in at Christmas to try to cover the noxious fumes emanating from the nether regions of overfed, undercontrolled  and ill-mannered houseguests. Incense was a must have for the Christmas season in the Good Old Days – especially in the late sixties/early seventies when everything went a bit psychedelic and mental – and a quick nip to the head shop a few days before the big day was always a high priority on mum’s to-do list. These days it’s more common to see incense encapsulated in flickering wax candle forms than smouldering on sticks in ashtrays, but the overall effect, in terms of aromatherapy, is pretty much the same.

candleA big plus of scented candles – and or the Glade plug-in – is that they’re much easier to control. A candle can simply be snuffed out when the smell gets too cloying or a plug-in unplugged, but a smouldering stick with a six inch long head of filthy ash doesn’t really lend itself to being pinched out or carried to another room. In essence, if you’ll excuse the pun, once lit a joss stick really has to be left to do it’s thang, even if that thang is to fill a room with enough smoke for a red arrows display team flyover and an overdose of cinnamon-flavoured scent that has an effect on the eyes and lungs reminiscent of mustard gas.

Some people make their own scented candles and give them to others as presents. Like Kirstie Allsopp. She has a lot to answer for…

[1] For the pedantic, Jacob Marley’s ghost was not a “Christmas Spirit” it was a regular spirit that visited at Christmas.







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