Mistletoe & Whine

FOR complicated reasons I spent Christmas Day on my own this year. I do not wish you to feel sorry for me – unless it somehow leads to me gaining financially – and I know there are many people worse off. For example, I know there are those of you who had to spend Christmas with your relatives and loved ones.

I decided to make the best of it. On my way home on Christmas Eve I picked up the last chicken in Tesco, and I had a cracker left over from last year, so I was pretty much set for the best Christmas since the one before Ebenezer Scrooge was visited by the ghosts.

In the spirit of the season, I put a wash on just before noon, and started peeling some potatoes. Yes, I was a case study for some sort of charity and will probably appear, played by an actor, in an advert which is shown in the afternoon on one of the channels in the bottom half of the guide, but I was not going to let it stop me from having a good Christmas.

“This isn’t so bad,” I thought, the smell of a roasting chicken wafting from the oven, the Christmas tree lights twinkling by the window. It’s possible I hallucinated the carol singers carrying lanterns out in the street, we will never know. I am sure I saw Cliff Richard walking past.

I took a sip of sweet sherry, and started to wash up as I cooked. “Delia Smith never has to worry about this,” I thought. I ran the hot tap to fill up the bowl. “Hmm,” I thought, “This hot tap is taking a suspiciously long time to heat up. It is almost as if it is the cold tap.”

I waggled it to make sure. It was not. And so this Christmas became The Christmas I Spent On My Own With No Hot Water Or Central Heating.
Christmas Day is the very worst day of the year to have your boiler break down, even if you do not have a house full of people, because nobody wants to come out to fix a boiler when there are sprouts, purple Roses, and arguments on offer at home.

Then if the plumber does come out, the chance that he or she will have the part required to repair the boiler is so small that you could hide it behind the bit of Piers Morgan’s brain that deals with self-doubt. And there is no way he or she can obtain the part because nowhere is open for days, because it is Christmas.

The first thing that happens to you on Christmas Day when you have no hot water or central heating is that you immediately feel cold, even if you did not have the central heating switched on anyway.

The second thing that happens to you is you remember that 200 years ago, people managed perfectly well without hot water and central heating and modern day standards of sanitation, and they were all right apart from in the fact in those days if you were 20 you were considered middle-aged.

After my lunch – and one good thing about eating Christmas dinner alone is that you are guaranteed to win the paper hat in your cracker – I became overwhelmed by the need to have a bath, to prove I was not yet a barbarian. Surely that would be all right. I had boiled a kettle to wash the dishes. Admittedly I would probably need a few more kettles to warm up a bath, but how hard could it be, I wondered as I filled the bath with cold water…

I had my answer 56 minutes and 27 trips from the kitchen to the bathroom later. It turns out warming up a bath with kettles and pans is like taking out a jumbo jet with a peashooter.

Eventually I climbed in. It wasn’t really hot enough but I didn’t want to die in my own filth. “This isn’t so bad,” I thought, as I began to relax in the waters. “It’s not so cold outside, and I can manage for a few days. This is nice. I should have a bath instead of a shower more often.”

And with that, I decided the water was not warm enough. I leaned forward, and turned on the hot tap.

And that was why, on Christmas Day, just after the Queen’s speech, you heard that blood-curdling scream.

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An Uncanny Look Into The Future

EVERY so often I like to take the FutureScope 3000 off the top of the cupboard, where it sits next to that juicer I bought that time, blow the dust off it, and take a look at what the days ahead have in store for us.

One day I will use it to find out what the lottery numbers will be – and hang the ethics. But for now, let me tell you what I discovered, and what you can expect during 2016.

JANUARY
Hundreds of thousands of families are hit by the Christmas Tree Tax, as, covered in needles like disgruntled hedgehogs, they take their denuded decorations to the shredder.
“Yeah, mate, £3,000 a household, £5,000 if you’re on benefits. Sure I mentioned it during the election campaign,” says George Osborne. “We put out an announcement at 5pm on the Friday before Christmas. Look, there it is, halfway down page 378, underneath the Membership of the Labour Party Tax.”

FEBRUARY
EU legislation specifies that Valentine cards now constitute legal contracts. Cards carry messages like I’ll Be Your Sexy Valentine Up To And Including May 31, 2016, and Be My Valentine Until Trevor Is Back On The Market.

MARCH
Hundreds of thousands march on Whitehall in protest at the Christmas Tree Tax. It is the lead item on the BBC Six O’Clock and Ten O’Clock News and Newsnight. They even mention it on The One Show. People on Twitter still complain that the “Bliar Broadcasting CorpoREDTORYation” has completely ignored the march.

APRIL
Apple announces the iWheel, a “hoverboard” which the user steers using an iPhone. Everybody you hate announces their intention to buy one.

MAY
Opponents and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn are equally delighted by the local, Scottish, and Welsh election results. “This just goes to show exactly what we have been saying about Corbyn,” say both opponents and supporters. “We’re still going to win the General Election,” says George Osborne.

JUNE
It is the Wettest June Since 2015. “Huh, and they say there’s global warming,” says an idiot who doesn’t understand basic science in a pub near you. Andy Murray wins the Men’s Singles title at Wimbledon in a kagoule after hurricane force winds take the roof off Centre Court.

JULY
Britain sees the very first hoverboard wedding, at a pop-up weddingorium in Shoreditch. There is hardly a dry eye in the house as the bride trundles slowly up the aisle towards her rotating groom. The occasion is only marred by the intervention of a fanatic, who rushes to the front when the registrar asks if there be any lawful impediment, and screams that they aren’t hoverboards because they have wheels.

AUGUST
All of the goodwill and belief in British competence inspired by the hugely successful London Olympics is undone, as Team GB arrive in Rio without their kit and have to do the Olympics in their pants. On the bright side, Jessica Ennis-Hill becomes the first woman to win the heptathlon in successive games in a Snoopy vest.

SEPTEMBER
Summer finally arrives just as the schools return for the new term. Secondary schools up and down the land issue compulsory cans of Lynx to boys aged between 13 and 17.

OCTOBER
The Apple iWheel is withdrawn from sale after somebody answers the phone while trundling, and flips straight into a delegation of nuns, knocking them over like nine-pins. A spokesperson for Apple says: “How could we possibly have anticipated that the worst people in the world would buy this product? Anyway, look at the new Apple iDrone. Isn’t it shiny?”

NOVEMBER
Donald Trump is elected the 45th President of the United States of America. “No, wait,” says President-elect Trump. “I was just kidding. Somebody bet me that I couldn’t run for president. I don’t want to be president. That’s why I said all those stupid things. Are you people insane?!” Jeremy Corbyn sends a message of sympathy.

DECEMBER
Santas across the country collapse from heatstroke under the strain of their false beards, as Britain struggles through the Warmest December Since 2015. Luckily, Britain’s army of kind-hearted hipsters step in, spraying their beards white, and sit in grottos up and down the country drinking sweet sherry from screw-top jars, saying “Ho! Ho! Ho!” ironically, and telling children that their Christmas lists are hilariously 2015.