Ultimate. A much-misused word. A word that doesn’t mean “best”, or “finest”, or “taste the difference”, or any of those other tempting phrases the supermarkets use to package fancy-looking ham or overpriced chicken gizzards.
No, “ultimate” means “last”. It means “final”. It means “done”. And it means “dusted”.
So, if you’re one of those people who idly leafed through the so-called Last-Minute Gift Guides that fell out of the posher daily papers a couple of weeks ago...
And if you’re one of those people who laughed slyly, used the supplement to line the hamster cage and said to yourself “Ha! There’s tons of time left till Christmas...”
And if you’re one of those people who really does wake up on Christmas Eve and realise you haven’t bought a turkey – then this one’s for you: the Ultimate, Final, Left-It-Too-Late Guide To Those Last-Minute Christmas Conundrums.
Q: When I look in the window of a jewellers’ shop, why are all the price tags always face-down so I can’t read them?
A: Because if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. There are, even here in Bath, some lesser jewellers who do show the prices of the trinkets in their displays. But you probably can’t afford them either.
Q: What is the point of Brussels sprouts? Be honest, I can take it.
A: The Brussels sprout is a symbol of seasonal regeneration, a green shoot amid the murk and mire of darkest December, a token of Dame Nature’s infinite bounty...
Q: You’re making this up as you go along, aren’t you?
A: No. Oh all right, yes. Ask me an easier one.
Q: Why do they make blue Quality Streets when no one eats them?
A: To fill in the spaces between the purple ones.
Q: All, right, I’ll come clean. It’s Christmas Eve, I haven’t bought a turkey, and the whole family, including rich Auntie Agnes, is descending en masse for lunch tomorrow. What’s my next move?
A: Run for your life. Alternatively, invest in one of those four-bird roast things that are all the rage this year. As an added bonus, you’ll have enough unidentified avian leftovers for at least three weeks’ worth of sandwiches.
Q: Right, I need to get back to the shops. Most of them have double doors, don’t they? So why do the people who are trying to get in always use the same door as the people going out?
A: What’s that got to do with Christmas?
Q: Not a lot really, just idle curiosity. And how come you’ve started asking the questions and I’ve started answering them?
A: Good point. Ask me another one before anybody notices.
Q: What should I buy for the man who has everything?
A: Nothing. But he won’t thank you for it.
So there you are. The gold mines may be empty, the frankincense trees may be wilting and the myrrh bushes may be down with the blight, but for you, Christmas is ultimately sorted. Have a good one!