Sunday 26 December 2004

Feigning Joy & Surprise....

Well. That's Christmas more or less over for another year.

To be perfectly honest I managed to spend a lot of the day hiding in my room reading a book (again - this is getting to be a habit. Last year was "Googlewhack", this year it was "The Nation's Favourite - the true adventures of Radio 1" by Simon Garfield - an account of Matthew Bannister's dismantling of Smashie & Nicey era Radio 1. Pretty interesting, actually, but more importantly, an easy read)

I love my family, and I don't want to seem ungrateful, but it can just be too much to bear. In the nicest possible way, it's like being locked into a particularly benign open prison with a good line in psychological torture - and I'm not talking about the sprouts.

I think the thing I particularly enjoy is the tyranny of the TV set. At least this year my elder brother spared us from his usual trick of taking a pen to the Radio Times - thus fairly effectively putting his towel down over the remote control for the evening. There's always a flare up over this at some point, and this year was no exception. I had escaped to the sanctuary of my room, my book and "Up" by R.E.M. when there was a tap at the door. My mother. Would I care to come down for a bite of something to eat. OK. Everyone was watching "Who Wrote The Bible?". Not OK - if I wanted to eat, presumably I would have to sit and watch this too. Sigh. My parents have sort of rediscovered religion. My dad was something of a bible-thumper when he was a medical student, but I think he lapsed somewhat as a result of a falling out with the vicar at the local church (seriously - I'm not making this up). After 20 years, this vicar finally retired a year of so ago, and was replaced by Father Gary. Father Gary is a wholly different kettle of fish - and before I know where we are, my mother is some sort of church warden, conversation is somewhat dominated by Gary said this and Gary said that (this year's nugget was his desire to put the "Christ" back into "CHRISTmas" - do you see what he did there?), and he was even invited to Christmas dinner last year (tactfully turned down). This is of course fine. I am not a religious man, but each to their own, eh? What I don't like is having it rammed down my throat. You can see my trepridation at the idea of having my tea in front of that particular programme.

As it happens the programme was quite good - a genuinely questioning approach to the study of the bible, and an attempt to understand who put it together and why (there was one priceless moment where the presenter said to a biblical scholar "So, did Moses really write the first five books of the Bible?" to which the reply came "No, because one of the books deals with his death". I love the fact that in Christianity this is still an issue up for debate). Anyway. The combustion point came with the fact that this programme clashed with "The Vicar Of Dibley" - something that I can't abide, but apparently everyone else likes. The original plan was to change over channels, video the rest of the Bible programme and watch Dibley. Dibley starts, the channel is changed, and everyone bar my dad gets up and walks out of the room to watch the rest of the Bible programme.... not exactly the ideal of the family Christmas where everyone does everything together all day, and this sends my dad into a rage. Net result, a lot of shouting, a last minute change to the videoing plans and everyone (bar me) relocating to their seats. I took the opportunity to get back to my book. Funny.

At about 10pm though, I did find myself wondering what to do with myself. I had finished my book and didn't want to start another one but had no intention of going back downstairs to watch the Absolutely Fabulous Chrismas Special. I just don't get that programme - lots of shrieking and a serious case of diminishing returns. I even thought about going to bed. In the end I played scrabble with my mum, which was actually excellent fun, in spite of the fact that I was robbed of my chance to put "Quidam" down on a triple word score, and my little brother won by making up words and then checking to see if they existed in the dictionary before putting them down! Grrrr.


Food consumption on the big day appeared to not be as grotesque as usual this year:

- the traditional ham for breakfast and some kind of low fat croissant (don't ask - everyone seems to be on the weightwatchers diet in my family)

- mulled wine

- turkey with sausage stuffing, roast potato, boiled potato, brocolli, cranberry sauce, bread sauce, chipolatas and sprouts (obviously)

- pudding, brandy butter, rum butter

- cheese and crackers (nice bit of Comte and some smoked applewood cheddar)

- Xmas cake

- beer

- wine

- bourbon (Maker's Mark that I gave to my dad - quite disappointing actually. Give me a nice peaty malt or some Elijah Craig any day)

In my defence, I did get up and get out for a 4 mile run before breakfast.

Disgusting really though, isn't it? They reckon the average consumption on the day in 7500 calories. Enough to keep a child in Africa going for a week (according to the front page of The Independent on Christmas Eve anyway) How did you do?


In other news, it turns out that my dad has a wireless network. Who knew? Very handy when trying to escape the tedium of the Rupert Everett Sherlock Holmes thing on the telly tonight. I think Conan-Doyle would definitely NOT approve, and Ian Hart is so, so much better than this.... I also got to watch something I wanted to: The Return of the King special edition. Pretty good, but I think I need a second viewing to see if all of those added scenes were really necessary. First viewing suggests that about half were, but the rest were right to be cut. Still that's 4 hours of my life where I won't be watching Xmas specials, and that has to be a good thing, right?


C. always spends Xmas with her family in France. I really miss her.

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