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 currently getting pissed to try and get into the spirit. It's not quite working. I'm already eleven cans down and I only bought them four hours ago. Whoopsy.
You see, my parents - my sworn atheist parents - were particularly anti-Christmas - and this battered bauble hasn't rolled very far from the (unerected) 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 brother and I looked on as Dad decided to wrap our presents directly in front of us. It 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 like 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 fucking 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. As I attempted to purchase pint number three, I noticed a limp tree sitting tragically on the bar. Next to it was a badly scrawled sign 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. If you're a vegetarian, you either get a nut roast or a slap. It's up to you.
From here on in, it's all Christmas a-go-go: 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. From August, there's no let up: everywhere you go, it's there - right in your chops. Balls deep. 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 Tesco Express the other day. 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 bit of a cunt. I don't know why, it just does. I sit at a table with wispy paper on my head and I feel cunty. It's all I can do to not upturn the table and scream, 'DON'T LOOK AT ME!'
3. Secret Santa. I do it every year. I simmer with secret resentment each time. They set either a rubbish budget, like a fiver, and I wander around the shops feeling all aggrieved, 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 indignant, thinking how I can spend a tenner better on myself. Like on twenty cans of lager, for instance. 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 voting Tory. 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. Top tip, chums: don't send me one. I don't really appreciate it - straight in the recycling bin, I'm afraid, unless you're either dying or you write something magnificent - and even then 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 their fluey germs all over the back of your head in Asda. 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/chest infection/global-sized cold sore will always appear during advent. It always bums people out when they ask you what you got for Christmas and you answer: Ebola.
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