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Isn’t Christmas great? Oh, didn’t we have such fun? Well forget it, it’s over and now it’s back to work. It seems so long now since the office party. Shucks, I just remembered that drunken grope with the tea lady, Veronica. Nothing to worry about there, it was Christmas, everybody does it. Don’t they? Granted, it was a bit embarrassing when her son came by to take her home. I think he just looked older than me. He didn’t look that old at his father’s funeral in November and, anyway, people always look older when they’re wearing their angry face. She is over eighteen after all, a lot over come to think about it, and  she was well on her way to “past tipsy but still able to feign embarrassment” when I got myself “pressed” under the mistletoe. I remember thinking it hilarious when I felt the teeth moving about in her mouth, suddenly all those mysterious denture fixative advertisements make so much more sense. My God, I feel a bit sick. That’s hardly surprising, if I could remember even half the amount of booze I have thrown back in the past few weeks, I’m sure I would feel a hell of a lot worse.

Oh! Deary me! Shylock’s surety. I know what that is, lying on it’s lonesome at the back of the door. All my dirty little secrets listed and crammed into one seedy brown envelope, ‘The credit card statement’. Now there’s a sobering thought. You have been calling the tune for the past few weeks, now it’s time to pay the piper. Oh my giddy aunt! (I was snogging the face off, of her, on top of the photocopier the other week, Veronica, or will it still be Mrs Pickles back in the office?). I’m past the initial stages of nausea, now I am beginning to feel physically sick.

Somehow, that late night rush for last minute shopping on Christmas Eve doesn’t seem like such a good idea, viewed as it is now in the cold light of a crisp January day. Has someone left that stable door open? There’s a shiver tingling up my back towards the nape of my neck, around about where my spine used to be. Maybe it’s a vengeful Veronica or her elderly, cuckolded son, Malcolm! Guilt is a very insidious emotion. The young don’t feel guilt, they don’t have the time, they are far too busy indulging themselves with pleasure, which has developed itself into guilt for those of us of an age, and with the time, to dwell on the repercussions of such fleeting thoughts and fancies.

The great Christmas gift rip-off routine! Why in the name of Santa’s special little helper (You know who you are!) do I fall for this old chestnut, year after year after year.  Let me give you a couple of pointers for next year. The lady in your life knows exactly what she wants! When she says “Just surprise me”, this means “Let’s see if you can figure out just what it is that I have spent the last few months hinting at and I will act genuinely surprised if you get even close to it”. Of course you have no chance. Even if, by some twist of fate, you manage to crack the code she will have changed her mind anyway. If you really want to surprise her, phone her from the Christmas Barbi’ on Bondi Beach on Christmas day! ‘Goodwill to all men’ does not include YOU! Unless, of course, this is a new relationship, in which case she will still be telling you that she “loves your sense of humour!” and laughing at all your jokes, even when you’re trying to be serious. Oh she may well laugh uproariously at your bedside inspection or when she reflects that you weren’t kidding, and yes, that is how little you earn. But rest assured, these will become the highlights of the first girly night out just as soon as she has decided that you are getting drafted to the Company of Spanish Archers, the big El Bow.

What of your gifts received? Take a good look at yourself, did you choose that shirt, those shiny trousers? When little girls play with their dollies, they are learning how to dress YOU! You’re dressed in attire that would enable a prisoner on a dirty protest to consider himself lucky! Try a couple of casual chat up lines. You’re no longer the maverick, you my gormless friend, have been branded. That’s not a trendy tie you are wearing, it’s a leash.

If I was shallow enough to work out monies spent against gifts received (If I was to become a super hero I would be “Superficial”) I would have calculated by now that for several hundred pounds outlay I have amassed four pairs of dodgy socks that are more colourful than a gay wedding at Mardi Gras! The only positive thing I can say about them is, that yes, they do indeed come in pairs, initially. Some exotic (the polite way of saying “I don’t know what the hell it is!”) aftershave, all that NBC training and I’m almost taken out by a bottle of Christmas present. Finally, a jumper that would have embarrassed a drunken Val Doonican and would most certainly have sent him off his ‘rocker’. Isn’t Santa Claus just a house burgling son of a besom! On top of that I’ve lost a bucketful of brain cells and a half life from my liver, one family member and two close friends. I have also found myself volunteered for one dodgy relationship that “happened” during one festive evening, but enough on that as it may well be sub judice.

What could be nicer than having the family round for Christmas Dinner. You’d think! It always seems like such a good idea, in November, so what goes wrong between Armistice Sunday and Christmas day? That’s right, they turn up. It starts off good natured enough. Then the snide comments and remarks begin to slip themselves casually into the conversation, excused with “Ah, you know I don’t mean it”, which means that they most definitely do mean it and a lot more besides. “Lighten up, it’s Christmas for god’s sake”, or in other words let’s see if I can bully you into letting me treat you like something I brought in on the sole of my shoe. Gradually the red mist comes rolling in like a drunken first foot, it’s only a matter of time. But then this is all your own fault, let’s get back down to basics for a minute, anti-ambush drills, in the event of an ambush? Yes, get out of there! Their time, their place, don’t hang about, run like a Taliban suicide coach fleeing from an incoming drone strike. Vamoosh! Do one, I’m a celebrity in my own bathroom, “Get me out of here!”

Okay, Christmas over, what you want to do now is put all the lessons learned during the above into practise, but as a tester, why not splash around some copious amounts of alcohol. The 31st of December, New Years Eve, Hogmanay. Not long now, it’ll soon all be over. You’ve just passed the sign on Heartbreak Lane, over the bridge, through the gate and down the main drag. It’s a piece of the proverbial. All one has to do now is stay reasonably sober to see in the bells, steer clear of scraps and scrapes and suffer through the hangover in the morning. When you ended up pissed by nine o’clock you had a feeling that things just weren’t going to go quite so smoothly but you wouldn’t have given a shaggy sheep’s coat by then. Shaking hands and declaring undying love and goodwill to anyone who came within drooling distance. The man hug, that’s just water boarding with enforced, fake smiles. Are people really so much more attractive at Christmas? By New Years Day you have managed to fall out with everyone and if you haven’t got around to it, they have fallen out with you. So it’s back to work for another year to replete the finances, to make up and apologise to family and friends and all of this just so that you can go through the whole charade again next December. The recognised definition of insanity is to continually repeat patterns of behaviour that you know and expect to cause you harm, behaviour such as all of the above. Is crimbo just a season full of sherbet hidden in treacle? Clear lower decks, full kit muster, “Gimme’ a bucket and a Happy New Year!”.

W.W.

R.M.A.

City of Glasgow Branch.

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