I think I can say with confidence that winter is the best of the four seasons. When we get snow, it makes the place look a bit nicer, at its best looking a bit like a postcard your Nan would collect, what’s more, it’s an excuse to stay indoors and completely eschew human interaction, it’s a win-win for all involved.
Of course, there’s always someone wanting to spoil my day, Brendan came knocking earlier asking if I wanted to go to the pub. He must be mad, going to a pub where it’s four quid a pint, and there’s gangs of people ruining the atmosphere, when you could stay at home with a shop-bought pack of 12 beers for a tenner and listen to music you like.
After he’d gone, I sat down to see what was on TV, nothing but Christmas specials. Mrs Browns Boys is nauseating enough without all the Christmas shit on top, it’s beggar’s belief how many jokes they can get out of Mrs Brown buying the wrong tree. It just goes to show that the stereotype of Irish people being constantly drunk can’t be too far off the mark.
Good news: I’ve finished Christmas shopping. Bad news: now I must go out to drop them off. Sometimes I wonder about getting a dog. Not only are they good company, not to mention they don’t complain about your food, but they also give you a handy excuse for going home quicker and not spending too long at someone else’s house.
I imagine this imaginary dog could be more trouble than it’s worth however; I’ll tell people and they’ll want to see pictures of it and hear about how it’s settling in, then they could always insist you bring the dog along. People are so overrated, just leave me in peace with my imaginary dog!
Mum rang, Auntie Julie slipped and fell outside Tesco’s. ‘The poor cow is in a sling now.’ Mum sighed over the phone, this is all we needed, knowing Julie, she’ll be milking this for all its worth until next Christmas.
Balls. Balls, balls, and triple balls.
Mum’s just rang again and reminded me that she’s coming for Christmas dinner, and guess what I have in? Zilch, nada, nowt.
I imagine this is karma for all the years of laughing at people who leave their shopping while the last minute. I suppose I better dig out a scrum cap and brave the shops, it’s just my luck that ASDA stopped home delivery yesterday.
So, out I went to brave the crowds. The car park was packed, which is never a good sign, and inside was like a recreation of the Normandy landings. People were screaming, bodies lay strewn in the poultry aisle, a victim of the mad rush for the last turkey (I may be exaggerating) and worst of all, there were children, hundreds of the little pricks. All seemingly running around unsupervised.
What had started as a simple shopping trip became a simple struggle for survival (again, forgive me some embellishment) as I tried to avoid being sucked into clusters of people all fighting over the last box of crackers.
I picked up what I could from what was left and left promptly, on the way home I started to wonder when I might start getting flashbacks to ‘The Battle of ASDA’ like you see Vietnam veterans get in the films. But that’s probably my imagination running wild again.
Everything is in the fridge ready for Christmas, Mum is coming tomorrow, and I’ve stocked up on wine to see her through the week, and whiskey to see me through at least one afternoon.
Tonight was the office Christmas party, joy of joys. I normally wouldn’t touch these things with a ten-foot pole, but Brendan ‘persuaded’ me that going was a good idea. So, I went, mostly just to shut him up.
I work at a publisher’s that specialises in making academic textbooks, which, as you can imagine, is a thrill a minute. We cover everything, from maths to medieval history, and as a result, I’ve spent more time speaking to scholars than any man ever should.
I’ve been here 5 years, and this is only my second party. The first time put me off office parties for life, or so I hoped. The night started off innocently enough, and before we knew it there was a fire, only a small one, but a fire, nonetheless. Apparently, someone tried photocopying their arse and over-heated the copier, makes me wonder whose arse is big enough to cause a photocopier to set on fire. My money’s on Brendan.
We’re not a big office, there’s only 5 of us, and to be honest, if 3 of them ceased to exist, I would hardly raise an eyebrow. The one solace is Brendan, who has been there longer than me, he finds the place just as tedious as me, but is more inclined to be social, hence why he goes to these festivals of misery.
When we arrived, Tracy was already half-cut. This was nothing new, Tracy keeps a hipflask in her desk, although she denies it. Tom was holding court with one of his anecdotes that have a bad habit of going nowhere, although it wasn’t a story about his kids, which is a small comfort.
Tom seems to think that everyone should care that he has working testicles. I’m pretty sure if you stopped to chat with him at a bus stop, he’d whip out the pictures. What’s worse is, he seems to think they’re cute, and they most certainly are not. They both look like Sloth from Goonies halfway through a sneeze.
Of course, he seems to think this makes him more approachable to the opposite sex, which is rich because if his kids are that ugly, you should wonder where the template came from. I once saw his ex, his baby momma if you will, she was quite pretty, although she did wear glasses so maybe that explains it. Maybe she broke up with him after she got her glasses, who knows.
Then there was Gary, lurking around, laughing too loudly at Tom’s stories, only stopping to not too subtlety look at Tracy’s breasts. Gary is one of those people who make you want to shrivel. A nasty little creep, he spends half his time sucking up to Tom and the other half talking about ‘some bird’ be saw out and about, my desk used to be next to his, but I requested to be moved under the completely reasonable terms that either I moved, or I threw Gary out of a window.
He doesn’t just say creepy things either, he makes an annual attempt to try and get off with Tracy, which she uniformly rebuffs. Which makes me think her drinking habit is perhaps not as bad as first thought. It wasn’t long before he was trying again tonight, and this was where the night became much more interesting.
At around 11, and during Tom’s fourth pointless anecdote, we hear a scream followed by a groan of pain, Tom’s interest barely flickered as he told us about ‘this lovely village he found in southern France’ as if he was Christopher fucking Columbus, but the rest of us turned to see where the noise was coming from, we weren’t waiting long before Tracy ran out of the ladies toilet, followed closely by Gary, who was on all fours.
‘The tart just kicked me in the bollocks.’ Gary gasped; his voice higher than usual.
‘That’s because you were hiding in the ladies, you creep!’
Now things were getting serious, even Tom stopped his anecdote.
‘It was an accident!’ Gary said, gingerly standing back up.
‘Sexual harassment is no joke; you should know that if you’ve read the company handbook.’ Tom dead-panned from the back of the group, drawing puzzled glances from myself and Brendan. ‘Besides, the toilets are clearly marked.’
With Tom being as self-aware as ever, it fell to me and Brendan to try and eject the accused peeping Tom, I mean Gary.
‘She should go! She assaulted me!’ Gary’s fists we’re now bunching looking like a man desperate for a fight.
Brendan lunges forward like a bullet from a gun, he had already landed several punches before we realised what was going on and could separate them, as I tried to calm Brendan down, Gary scrambled out of the door, and away into the night.
With Tracy now in tears, and steam practically coming from Brendan’s ears, Tom broke the silence with his usual spell-binding lack of self-awareness.
‘I think we should maybe call it a night.’
Good call, Tom.
It’s difficult to feel peace and goodwill to all when they’re all determined to annoy you.
Mum arrived last night and immediately set to telling me what was wrong in my life, and how untidy my house was. I would consider matricide, but I don’t think I’d do well in prison.
I went into town to get away for a while, and maybe visit my favourite pub, but there was no peace to be found there either, there were groups of carol singers seemingly strategically placed for maximum annoyance. The lowlight was the local Boy Scout group, bad singing is pretty painful, but children singing badly is worse than a sledgehammer to the head.
There they were, wailing away and shaking buckets, I think more people were paying in the hope they’d shut up, no such luck.
After stopping off to pick up more whiskey I headed back home, at least my mother doesn’t nag me out of tune, and it’s easier to ignore her, I’ve been practicing all my life.
I retreated upstairs at around 8 o’clock, wanting to make further changes to my screenplay, I was halfway through, then I threw some of it out and started again, I’m starting to regret that.
I briefly considered writing a comedy about our office, but Ricky Gervais beat me to it fifteen years ago.
Christmas was far from peaceful, I thought the days of my mother waking me up at 7am were long gone, but how wrong I was.
‘You need to be up. It’s Christmas!’
The older I get, the more I realise that Scrooge might have had a point. After all the stress of buying the right things, getting cards, I then need to wake up at 7am to unwrap some socks? Fuck that.
I finally relented at half past 7, poured a large coffee and unwrapped my presents.
Mothers never lose that ability to pretend to be excited by even the shittiest presents. As I unwrapped the fifth pair of socks, I heard her say: ‘That’s nice. At least you’ll never run out of socks.’ Then she goes back to her own presents, pretending she loves the candle I bought her, I may have ruined the feeling, however when I put my foot in it again.
‘I thought I’d get you a candle to remind you of the war.’
Age jokes never go down well with mum, she’s obsessed with putting on a front of youth. Maybe it was a subtle attempt to get rid of her early, either way, it didn’t work. She stayed for dinner and didn’t speak to me again until Boxing Day morning.
The week between Christmas and New Year must be one of the most tedious things about the whole Christmas season, what do you do? The TV is full of more shit than usual, the shops are full of salegoers, looking for a bargain on crap they don’t need.
I’ve tried to hibernate, but apparently there’s a limit to how much a human being can sleep, and mum is still here, she’s staying until New Year now, joy of joys.
She tried to make herself a sandwich yesterday, and somehow managed to use up half the contents of my fridge. The bloody thing was like a skyscraper; ham, lettuce, tomato, olives. Fucking olives! I wonder when she got a taste for those while she was living in the Irish countryside as a girl, I didn’t even know olives had reached Ireland.
After she’d drastically worn down my food supply, she took over the television. She pretty much exclusively watches cooking programs, which is a laugh as she’s probably the worst cook in the world; the only person I know who can burn beans on toast, if it weren’t for meals on wheels, she’d have wasted away years ago.
I took the opportunity later on to watch It’s A Wonderful Life again, while it’s still somewhat socially acceptable, although not with my Mum, God no, never watch a film with your Mum is my motto, by the time an hour has passed you’ll be ready to duct tape her mouth shut. Or maybe that’s just my mum.
Rejoice! Mother has gone home early!
She got a phone call late last night from her neighbour, Shirley, who’s looking after her cat Princess, saying that the feral beast is ill and needs to go the vet.
For some reason, my mum seems to think the sun shines out of the cat’s furry arse. Whereas I think it’s a remorseless killer with a bad habit of going for my crotch whenever I visit.
Cats have never liked me, when I was a kid a friend’s cat clawed my arm, and all my mums’ cats give me a wide berth, Princess however, is a complete psychopath who wishes I were dead.
Obviously, Mum laughs this off as her ‘just playing’. Tell that to my mangled testes, Mum. I hope you weren’t wishing for grandchildren.
Apparently, during a drunken night many moons ago, I had offered to host friends for a New Years party, well, I say party, what I actually mean is ‘getting pissed with Brendan’ but it’s pretty much the only highlight of my social calendar for the whole year, depressingly enough.
I was only reminded of this commitment to host friends when Brendan appeared at 6pm sporting a party hat and clutching a bottle of inexpensive champagne.
I enquired about his sanity when he reminded me of my drunken promise to see in the New Year in style; well about as much style as two blokes with only a party hat and bottle of bottom-shelf booze could manage.
Luckily, I had some drinks left over from my Christmas supply, enough to at least see me through to the bells, and so the celebrations began…