Last Christmas: I gave you my heart but the very next day you gave it away. This year, to save any tears, I’ll give it to someone special…
The very next day, George? Strikes me you were a bit quick out of the traps there, mate. You probably scared her off. Slow down a bit, get to know her a little before offering your heart like that. Treat ‘em mean to keep ‘em keen. Play hard to get. Wait a while, and if she turns out to be a Fickle Felicity of Flighty Fanny you won’t get your fingers burnt quite so badly, or end up looking such a chump. And if you didn’t think she was “Special” you really shouldn’t have been offering your heart to her anyway. A giant Toblerone or maybe a Terry’s Chocolate Orange would make a much more appropriate gift for a casual acquaintance. Better luck this year.
Lavatorial Humour: Anyone who’s been reading since “A” will know I’m all for a bit of L.H. Yes, it is very childish. No I won’t stop. So there.
Leftovers: My god, there’s lots of ‘em at Christmas, ennit? Una Alconbury’s turkey and the curry it is transformed into are undoubtedly the most (in)famous Chrissy leftovers, thanks to the popularity of a certain Ms Jones and her diary, but they are only, as you, dear reader, will undoubtedly know, the teeniest (wing)tip of a vast and unpleasant iceberg. In these harsh times it is clearly a sin to discard anything, but just what do you do with 8lb of rapidly decomposing sprouts, three trays of assorted roast vegetables (spuds, parsnip, celeriac…) and two thirds of a mashed and boiled swede (that’s rutabaga for any American readers) that was originally the size of a small planet? The answer, my friend, is Bubble and Squeak – and for those of you who thought the answer to my rhetorical question was going to be ‘is blowing in the wind’, I can assure you it very soon will be (see “Lavatorial Humour” above).
Now there’s no getting away from it, a nice bit o’ bubble is a treat indeed, but what seems like a simple ‘bung it in the pan and give it 5 minutes’ proposition invariably turns out to be a little more complicated. The thing is, see, this stuff needs regular turning if it’s going to crisp evenly, and a six inch layer of mushed vegetables squeezed into a two-sizes-too-small frying pan turns out to be the culinary equivalent of Margaret Thatcher, in that, no matter how desirable or useful it would be for it to do so, it’s really not for turning. And unlike a pancake, it’s not really flippable either.
The other big problem with B&S is that it takes forever to cook! It transpires that it takes longer to fry off a leftover mashed spud than it takes to roast a fresh one straight from the veggie rack, which is okay if you’re having your bubble with cold meats for lunch, but a bugger to try to coordinate as part of a cooked brekker. By the time you’ve got your B&S up to temperature your sossidges will be shrivelled to nothing and your bacon frazzled to rashers the size of Frazzles™. The kids will have given up the ghost and filled up on cornflakes, Quality Street, and Frazzles and you’ll be left with yet another plateful of leftovers to start the ball rolling again with at the next mealtime.
The other option for leftover veg is soup, but the chances of making a decent or even edible soup simply by blitzing a random selection of leftovers are slim indeed. It’s odds on that the blitzed stuff will only really be useable as a “base”, which means adding more fresh vegetables in an exercise more likely to prove nothing more than a case of throwing good money – or veg – after bad. On the plus side, once you have made something totally inedible you won’t feel so bad about throwing it out. It’s not wasteful, it’s just unfortunate, and your conscience is clear.
As sell-bys approach and the window for safe consumption shrinks you’ll find yourself facing increasing numbers of increasingly strange mealtime combinations. By New Year’s Eve you’ll be praying that you never see another cocktail sossidge again as long as you live, and the offer of ‘just one more wafer thin mint’ will be greeted with the same level of enthusiasm as the one proffered to Mr Creosote in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. If you’re throwing a party on New Year’s Eve the whole sorry cycle will kick off again, but if you’re one of the lucky ones who thought ahead and paid through the nose for a small square of floor-space in a terrifyingly over-subscribed pub, club or restaurant then you may find your leftover woes ended by mid February. The sensible and logical answer is don’t buy so much, but when did common sense or logic ever come into Christmas?
Lemons: Don’t forget to add them to your shopping list. Households tend to fall into two categories – those that have them kicking about all the time and those that buy them in only when there’s the chance of an unexpected Pimms or G&T drinker calling, or because a Jamie Oliver stylee lemon chicken is in the offing and a couple are needed to stick up the cackler’s arse. Our gaff generally falls into the second category – we use the bottled stuff for day-to-day cooking and/or squirting on our February pancakes, which is why we tend to forget them on our Christmas shopping list. Hence the timely reminder…
Love: Christmas is a time for spending with your nearest and dearest family members. And trying not to kill them. Good luck with that one.