On the bright side, I have taken advantage of Tesco's festive offer of twenty cans of lager for a tenner - although I am highly doubtful that said cans will actually make it to December 25th on account of the fact that I'm already getting pissed to try and get into the spirit. It's not quite working. I'm eleven cans down already.
You see, my parents - my sworn atheist parents - were particularly anti-Christmas - and this battered bauble hasn't rolled very far from the (un)erected tree...
As far as they were concerned, Christmas was a commercialised, throbbing pain in the arse. To them, it meant stress and stretching budgets - and for what? Marking the birth of someone they didn't actually believe in. When I was about fourteen, my Dad decided to wrap mine and my brother's presents directly in front of us. This filled Dad with an unrelenting rage that me and Jim found hilarious. After struggling for too long with a particularly aggressive roll of Sellotape, he flung it across the room as his mania took hold. He dangled our gifts directly in front of us and adopted a strange voice several octaves above his normal tone. 'See this?' he chimed, 'Oh yes! It's a daft fucking bag! Yes, let's wrap it up, and pretend it's baby Jesus! Come on, let's put it under the tree and then in a few days you can open it and - oooooh! -what a surprise! Thank you Santa, you fat bastard!' Meanwhile, Jim and I escaped upstairs with a bottle of supermarket own-brand Advocaat and took turns gulping down the milky yellow fluid while splitting our sides. Dad's ranting continued unabated downstairs. We swore that when we were older, things would be different. But, as it turns out, they're not.
So here's what does my manger in about yuletide:
1. The fact that it starts in August. Yes, August. Summer, in other words.
There I was, enjoying a beer in the sun during my six-week work hiatus. It was 26 degrees and all rather lovely. I went to the bar and noticed a limp tree, sitting tragically on the bar, inviting patrons to book early for a pre-frozen dinner in order to avoid disappointment. Oh yeah, that would be disappointing, wouldn't it: paying three times the price you normally would for a few transparent bits of turkey, three brussel sprouts, two roast potatoes and a splatter of lukewarm gravy. For pudding, you're 'treated' to a thimble of figgy pudding that confuses me: I can't quite decide if it's delicious or foul.
From here on in, there's no let up: the supermarkets start with their 'seasonal aisle' treachery. I don't want to look at tinsel at the best of times, let alone in September. Or October, nor November. Or even December. In fact, I don't ever want to look at tinsel, because it's horrible. Tinsel can fuck off. I'm okay with discounted booze, though. I just don't see why it only happens around Christmas. But from August, there's no let up: everywhere you go, it's there - right in your chops. Television adverts, shops. You can't even fart without it sounding a bit like Jingle Bells. I went to a self-service till in a little Tesco the other day, and when I used my card to pay, I KID YOU NOT, the till went, 'Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!' This violates my statutory rights, surely?
2. There's too much pressure to have a good time. I mean, why do I have to put a paper crown on my bonce because I'm eating a turkey dinner? Here's the truth: it makes me feel like a right twat. Oh, hurray! I'm eating a roast! Let's adorn our heads with wispy coloured paper and pretend that we like each other. Let's pull crackers and feel uncomfortable at rubbish jokes! WHY, people? WHY?
3. Secret Santa. I do it every year. I simmer with secret resentment every time. They set either a rubbish budget, like a fiver, and I wander around the shops feeling all resentful, wondering what I can get for such a pithy amount... And then when they put the amount up to a tenner, I wander around feeling equally resentful, thinking how I can spend a tenner better on myself. Either way, I go out of my way to buy something marvellous and tasteful, only to receive a 'comedy' present (such as a tinsel encrusted hole punch or a thoroughly thoughtless Brut set) which I have to pretend to like before either binning it or hiding it away and recycling it the following year when I am asked to take part in Secret bastard Santa.
4. Christmas jumpers. It's a straight no from me. A bit like comedy ties or brown shoes. I'm just not interested and completely unamused. Oooh, look at me in a jumper that makes me look like a Christmas tree! I'm thick enough around the middle as it is, thanks very much.
5. Pure greed. I can consume eight thousand calories on any given day. I don't see why Christmas has to be any different. Also, gluttony is one of deadly sins, isn't it? Ironic that we're doing it in the name of Baby-J.
6. Christmas cards. Don't send me one. I don't really appreciate it - straight in the recycling bin, I'm afraid - and you won't be getting one back. If I like you, you'll know. I'll buy you a drink or I'll ring you / text you / Facebook you / Whatsapp you or - heaven forbid - meet up with you. Also, I feel sorry for trees.
7. Christmas shopping. I don't get it. All that CHAOS. Ghandhi-esque queues of people looking miserable and coughing all over the back of your head. People acting as though they're in the final of Supermarket Sweep (remember it?) And all for ONE DAY. ONE DINNER.
8. Illness. Just like Santa, a cold/flu/chest infection/global-sized coldsore will always appear during advent.
9. Extended family horror. There's a reason that we only see certain people once a year. Fucking Christmas. That's why. And it's enough to put us off for another year.
10. I'm not religious. At all.
Anyway, merry pissing Christmas. I hope Santa's sack proves plentiful. Peace on Earth, mince pies and mirth and all that bollocks. Finally, I would like to dedicate this lovely Christmas to you. Yes, you. I'll try and heed its advice. Not promising though...
Merry Christmas. Cough.
Merry Christmas. Cough.
Johnny Red Pants xxx