Day three… My, how time flies when you are having fun.
Crackers, Christmas: Oh joy! Break out the Christmas Crackers! Who are you going to pull this year? Will your snap snap? Will your hat fit or slip straight down onto your shoulders like a poor man’s Edwardian ruff? Will they be regular crackers, containing a small piece of plastic crap that looks like it was made in a broken pre-war mould operated by a blind man and chewed by the cat without him realising, or will they be LUXURY crackers containing a small piece of tin crap that looks like a filling that’s fallen out of the same blind man’s teeth?
Whatever your cracker, whether no expense spared or all expense spared, it will provide you with literally seconds of fun as you cross hands Auld Lang Syne stylee across the dining room table and pull one another to thunderous climax. Hem hem.
And then there are the mottos. A good Christmas cracker will contain corny jokes with laboured puns that everyone can have a good crack at “guessing”. Veteran cracker-pullers will have the advantage here, because the same tired old jokes have been doing the rounds for decades and they will, in the manner of a very competitive Trivial Pursuiter, have memorised every one. Even better than “Getting” the joke is coming up with a new answer that is marginally funnier, or cornier, or both, than the original. Paper hats off to that man or woman.
My favourite cracker joke was one that sneaked past the sensors for several years and even made it onto the stick of a Lord Toffingham ice-lolly back in the days when lollysticks had jokes on them. To be totally honest I wouldn’t stake my life on it being a Lord Toffingham – it could have been a Fab or a Funny Foot – but Lord T’s were my favourite by miles so the odds fall in its flavoursome favour. Anyhoo… The joke was: ‘Why does an elephant have four feet’ and the answer was ‘Because it would look silly with six inches.’ For years this was taken at face value and assumed to be a rather silly surreal joke of the ‘What’s the difference between a chicken?’ variety. Then – and I think it might have taken a short item on Esther Sossidges Rantzen’s That’s Life – to loosen it, the penny dropped and the jig was up. Innocent times or what?
Crackers, Cream: The undisputed King with a capital K of the teatime savoury biscuit world. It’s got to be a cream cracker, and it’s got to be Jacobs. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m more than passing partial to a water biscuit or Tuc, and the delights of the digestive and multigrain are in no way lost on me, but the good old-fashioned cream cracker comes first every time, whether topped with a chunk of mousetrap Cheddar or served with a smouldering mouldering slablet of Stinky Bishop.
The downside to cheese and crackers, other than the HORRENDOUS calorie and carb count, is the terrible farting. Already stuffed to the gills with all manner of flatulence-inducing inducements (see main entry under Sprouts) are you 100% certain you want to risk your undergarments in rip-roaring round of cheeseboard roulette?
A final word on cheese and crackers: please keep the blue vein jokes to yourself. There are children present, thank you, and we had quite enough sniggering with the ‘breast or leg’ gags during dinner.
Crackers Game, the: No, not that one, you dirty bugger. Occasionally played at Christmas teatime, the crackers game is simply an eating race: ‘I bet you can’t eat three cream crackers without taking a drink.’ It’s more fun than it sounds. I’m sure there are some public schools and gentlemen’s clubs where the alternative crackers game still rules supreme over other teatime pastimes, but this is neither the time nor place to speculate on that.
Crackers, Nut: You can never find a pair when you need them, can you? Things that have been used in the absence of nutcrackers to crack nuts include: saucepans; shoes; hammers; bricks; rolling pins; anvils; and teeth. Ahhh, the sudden give and crack, and the dawning recognition that it’s a tooth that’s shattered and not the hazelnut. Oh the joy of the dash to A&E and the discomfort of the temporary filling, and the growing realisation that the fateful filbert you were so keen on devouring has just set you back three hundred quid.
I remember one Christmas when my eldest brother became obsessed with the last almond in the bowl. Almonds, as you are undoubtedly aware, are the Bruce Willis of the nut world – tough as nails and twice as determined. Having dropped an anvil from an upstairs window my brother rushed down to look at his handiwork. Hardly a scratch, and only the tiniest dent. And that was in the anvil. He next set about it with a 10lb sledgehammer we kept in the garage. After twenty minutes we had a beautiful crazy-paved path where once had been a patio, but were no closer to retrieving the nut from its shell. Next he tried driving over it. Four flat tyres later he gave this up as a bad job. The fight went on all afternoon, but eventually, after wearing out three diamond tipped angle-grinder blades and burning out the motor on a top-of-the-range Dewalt hammer drill the nut cracked. Inside was a puff of mouldy air and a small, black, shrivelled heart that was totally inedible. Take heed.
Of course, there are many other C’s that could have made it into this section of the A to Z including the big fella Christ himself. Having learnt, however that people can get a bit nuts and a bit crackers on that particular topic, I think I’ll leave well alone…