Hurry up, hurry up. It’s time to write your Christmas list. No, not for cards. You should have done that in October.
And if you haven’t already written your cards, addressed the envelopes, sealed the envelopes, unstuck the envelopes, put the cards in, stuck the mangled envelopes back down with Sellotape, gone out for stamps, come back with lightbulbs and Maltesers, gone out for stamps again, stuck the stamps on the cards you meant to deliver by hand... then to be quite frank you’re far too late.
Just forget it for this year, and try to do better in 2010.
No, the kind of list you need right now is a Christmas enemies list: a list of things and people that get right up your festive nose and rattle your Yuletide cage.
The kind of thing or person you want to avoid until January 14 at worst, and forever at best.
Top of this list for any right-thinking person is the sprout.
Let’s not drag up its association with the capital of Belgium: it only starts pedantic arguments about spelling it with a capital or lower-case “b”.
And there’s no need to constantly remind the Belgians that the sprout is their national shame. (And bad driving, but let it lie.)
The sprout is a puny excuse for a cabbage and a huge waste of culinary effort. What normal vegetable has to have a notch cut in its sprouty stalk before it can be cooked to the satisfaction of the tiny number of people who actually like it? And what normal vegetable attempts to avoid capture by disguising itself as a Morris dancer’s jingly hand bell shaker?
Next on the list is that Christmas DIY show on the telly. You know, the show that belittles your own festive efforts by suggesting that the only good Crimbo tree is one you’ve cut down yourself.
The show that makes you feel a failure because you don’t have the wherewithall to blow your own glass baubles for said tree.
The show that suggests, if you want to make a Christmas garland, that all you need to do is scour your “back yard” for evergreen sprigs.
Presented by Kirstie Allsopp.
Kirstie has her very own Christmas house, which exists in some sort of time warp in the hills of Devon, its floors unsullied by children, fur-shedding pets, old video games and two-week-old copies of the TV guide.
In Kirstie’s house, everything is colour co-ordinated. In Kirstie’s house, you just have to say “I want red ribbons and evergreens. Everywhere.” And it will happen.
Kirstie’s house is a TV set. It goes on the list.
(Our house has a holly tree. With yellow berries, not red ones. Whoever planted that goes on the list too.)
Delia Smith is another one. Yes, she’s a national treasure and has her own football team. And your humble columnist risks getting drummed out of the Boys’ Brigade for saying it.
But she doesn’t half go on, especially at Christmas time.
We watched Delia’s Classic Christmas the other day. She didn’t give out the quantities: perhaps you have to buy some sort of book to find out how you actually cook all this festive fare. And the best thing that can be said about her roast collar of bacon with blackened crackling is that the kids would scream if you served it up to them, and the grown-ups would probably mutter something like “Interesting” and not come back for seconds.
All right, we’ll leave Delia off the list. But her crackling stays on.