Christmas A – Z… “R”



Is for…

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…

Roast Tatas: Roasties aren’t just for Christmas, they are a treasure all year round, but they do come into their own on Christmas Day. Until a few years ago you could cook them in pretty much anything – lard, generic vegetable oil, 3in1 – but since the mid-eighties, when Delia Winston-Smith put us all straight, it has become a hard and fast rule that Christmas roasties can only be cooked in goose fat, resulting in pitched battles in supermarkets the length and breadth of the land as crazed women tear each other apart over the last few jars on the shelf. (It would be quite a turn-on if it wasn’t for all the blood and hair flying around.) This, it goes without saying, is absolute bollocks, and every year countless millions of gooses [I know: I just think gooses sounds better] are needlessly slaughtered just to provide fat for roasting our spuds in, the rest of their bodies discarded like worn out wellies because even though goose is a traditional Christmas centrepiece the demand for their fat far outweighs demand for their flesh. [1]. Ironically, the reason for this is because many people think their meat ‘a bit fatty.’ I know. Go figure.

I usually cook my Christmas tatas in duck fat (no, I didn’t swear, Speverend Rooner; I suggest you clean your ears out), easily and cheaply obtained by cooking an easy cheap duck for Sunday lunch a week or two beforehand and saving the run-off. One duck can produce enough fat for around 3 acres of potatoes.

This year I am toying with the idea of buying a pack of Aunt Bessie’s for back up – NO NO wait! Don’t go! Let me explain! – on the basis that what with all the other stuff I’ve got to wrestle into my oven I won’t have room to do enough potatoes for four people. That sounds insane, I know, but the simple truth is that you just can’t get enough roast potatoes. They are the peanut of the vegetable world – too moreish for their own or bessies spudsanyone else’s good. Here’s the plan. Serve up my own roast spuds, celeriac and parsnips (perhaps a few carrots as well?) with the main meal, then bung a packet of Aunt Bessie’s into the still hot oven. By the time people have finished their first helpings the AB’s will be ready to roll for those greedy bastards eager diners wanting seconds. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t ordinarily dream of serving a frozen and reheated spud to my worst enemy, but at Christmas needs must and we’ve got to take every shortcut we can find in an effort to beat that ticking oven clock.

Robin: Hem hem…

Little Robin Redbreast
Sitting on a pole
Put his head between his legs
And whistled up his hole.

This was one of my Christmas party pieces when I was about five. Whether whistling up his own hole or perched prettily on a snowy bough the Robin is one of our most enduring and endearing Christmas icons, which is odd, really, considering what a belligerent little bugger he is. As any fule kno the robin is one of the most fiercely territorial of all our native garden birds, and while he might look lovely with his little red breast all proudly puffed this is not just an attempt to keep warm or to make himself more attractive to lady robins. Ohhh dear no, this is a clear warning to other male robins that this garden is taken, and any other red-breasted little tit entering it will be torn, in no uncertain terms, a new one. And it won’t be by whistling up it.

Yep, make no bones about it, as lovely as he is the robin is not a symbol of peace and robingoodwill to all; he is the avian equivalent of the honey badger. Tabitha, our cat, has never been the same since tangling with one (Robin, not honey badger, you fule) last New Year’s Eve. It was a bloodbath, I tell you, a bloodbath…

Russell Howard: Is to comedy what prolapsed haemorrhoids are to unicycling. Not really got anything to do with Christmas (unless he gets a Christmas Special) but I just wanted to get that off my chest. I think Russells and comedy just don’t mix – they’re all shite – but Howard is the bog-eyed worst of the bunch. Harrumph.


[1] Not all geese suffer this fate, of course. Many suffer the even more vile fate of being confined in cages while evil bastards cram corn down their gullets to engorge their livers for making foie gras, which even viler bastards then shovel down their own gullets to engorge their own livers. The birds live their whole lives in agony and terror; we can only hope the gourmands feasting on the final product die in similar circumstances. Oh, and I know geese don’t get slaughtered for their fat and binned; this is what is known as artistic license.





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