Boarded the train from Euston to Manchester with a moderately bad hangover, a G and T hangover in fact – not so bad if you get a reasonable night’s sleep. The G and T hangover is not physical (nausea, headache, cramps in the legs) more of the mental variety (anxiety, paranoia, dull roar of dread), “laureate of the hangover” Kingsley Amis wrote about the distinction between the two types. This is definitely a mental, but nothing that a couple of drinks tonight can’t cure.
God I hate Christmas but love train journeys – so plenty of time to write my list of festive woes: Turkey, an absolutely dreadful meat with no flavour what-so-ever – that’s why people only eat it once a year, unless they buy it in packets for sandwiches in which case it’s indistinguishable from chicken. 2. Doctor Who, the Christmas episodes are always the worse. 3. People complaining about repeats on TV. 4. People watching TV in groups. 5. Being older and not getting proper presents. Look, I wanted a PS4 this year got bloody Nivea aftershave balm and a sweater. Rubbish. 6. Drinking too much and embarrassing yourself in front of family. But what do they expect? Lunch starts at 2.00pm for Christ sake, in Colombia I believe they eat Dinner on the 24th at midnight, sounds like a good idea.
I haven’t been to church, not even at Christmas for about 17 years, so this year was quite an event. The priest was a bit eccentric and unorthodox – the older congregation has complaining about him. At least he put on a decent show unlike the audience, which put minimal effort into the carol singing. It was that bad they actually pulled out a soprano to encourage them, seriously. It seems the art of carol singing is dying out, as with Christianity as a whole. Fifteen years ago this church would have been packed, people crowding behind the pews, cramming for space, tonight there were a few seats empty. I bet those that did show up only came for the free Sherry and Mince Pies. Maybe they should erect a bar in the back of the place.
Everybody has been saying that the reason the weather this Christmas is mild and wet is because of Global Warming. Rubbish. Climate changes – that’s what happens. A few years ago it snowed and it might do next year. I remember on sports day at school 20 years ago, it got so hot we had to cancel the event – nobody said anything about Global Warming then. No, then it was acid rain.
I’ve spent a significant part of the last decade abroad so haven’t visited my hometown for many years. I decided to visit some of the old haunts – schools, houses, playing fields, streets and homes of childhood enemies and friends. What’s surprising is that the people – most of them – have long gone or grown much older; the places themselves look more or less the same, and since the people have faded the places themselves hold no real significance. Wants the difference, between say a field in Liverpool and one in Milton Keyes? Nothing. It’s people that make the difference – that make memories. Having spent so many Christmases abroad I thought that I’d enjoy my first home in many years. It wasn’t too bad, but not as good as I thought it would be. But what could be better than trying to re-create Christmas in a condo in Bangkok? Over 32 degrees and 100 per cent humidity, with two electric hobs to recreate your festive dinner, air conditioning on full blast, a Christmas album compilation – It even sounded good, imagine! Or in Cairo, where they don’t even celebrate it, or Colombia where they eat dinner at the stroke of midnight while pouring tumblers full of Red Label – without a mixer, I might add – and don’t even know what a prawn cocktail is.
It’s Boxing Day. I’ve got another shitty hangover and a Christmas Diary to write. This hangover is a like an early morning dawn mist and comes with a 6000-calorie bolt on. Consumed in order: beer, white wine, beer, Gin and Tonic, Benedictine, port, sherry, Gin and Tonic, Advocaat, beer, Gin and Tonic, Limoncello. As you can imagine I’m feeling pretty rough, but once you’ve been drinking for days on end your body gets used to it. Questioning my entire existence, feeling ever so slightly nauseous and a little concerned for my future prospects and health, I slowly make my way down the stairs I used to run down at dawn on Christmas morning decades ago to find a heap load of presents under the tree. Sporting my old dressing gown – much too small now – I make my way into the kitchen, where my mum is preparing bacon – from M&S obviously – sandwiches for everyone. “How many do you want?” She asks. “Just the one, thanks, I’m feeling a bit under the weather,” I reply. “Well that’s it until next year, do you want brown sauce?” Merry Christmas.