It's been a fair while since my last blog post and, to all my truly dedicated fans that have noticed my absence (all three of you), I apologise profusely. The truth is, I wasn't sure whether or not I'd make it to December after eating some spaghetti that I found in the cupboard which went out of date in April 2009. That was three years ago. I was nineteen years old when that spaghetti was in date - the end of the world was a good three and a half years away, Michael Jackson was still alive, and Furbys had not yet made a comeback. (In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have eaten it, but, in my family, food is often held in a higher regard than life - the other day my sister nearly crashed her car trying to save her maltloaf from falling off the seat...) So much has happened since that spaghetti was in date that I've begun to think we should probably start clearing out our kitchen cupboards a bit more often. (And by 'we', I mean 'mum'.) The last time it got cleaned out was about 4 years ago when we got a new kitchen and we unearthed packets of pasta sauce from 1998. We had food in the kitchen that wasn't even from this millennium. I'd be ashamed, but I think it just shows that we have a life... Thankfully, I made it through the ordeal and lived to tell the tale, and now here I am, ready to enjoy the festive season, alive and well. I've always been a big fan of Christmas. Nice food, lots of alcohol, time off work and free stuff? What's not to like?
Christmas is also a good time of year to test my self-restraint and see how it improves, if at all, as I get older. Since I turned 17, I don't think there's been one Christmas where I didn't a) eat my entire Advent calendar at least 2 weeks before the end of Advent, and b) get drunk on Christmas Eve and open all of my presents. (The only reason this never happened before is we never had chocolate Advent calendars when we were little, and, despite what my current state of intelligence may suggest, I did not drink (much) as a child). In my defense, there's only so long one can stare at a Christmas present without grabbing it in typical Western fashion and eagerly tearing it open. I remember one Christmas when I was younger, I got so excited on Christmas morning that I just started frantically ripping open presents, regardless of whether or not they were actually mine. (In most cases, they weren't, causing a fair amount of annoyance for the rest of my family.) I'm not especially bothered about what's inside the paper (unless it's a Terry's Chocolate Orange, in which case, it could come wrapped in pig skin and I would still be happy), it's the unwrapping part that excites me. Nothing ruins Christmas like getting a present in a bag, a pathetic bit of tissue paper shoved in the top and a gift tag lacklusterly dangling from the handle. There's no guessing games to be had here - you open the bag, you look inside, and, just like that, all the joy is sucked out of Christmas. You've seen your gift, and the fun is over. There's no feeling through the wrapping paper, shaking the gift, seeing half of it mid-unwrap and becoming increasingly baffled. There's just nothing, and then, all at once, something. And that is not what Christmas is about.
There are, of course, things I dislike about the festive season. Along with Christmas hats (a nice tradition, but I just can't pull them off), cranberry sauce (it's fruit! It doesn't go on meat!), and sprouts (obviously), I also hate the Christmas CD that began its rotations at work on the the first of December and has been playing, over and over again, every single day since. I like Christmas songs, I do, it's not that - it's just that this particular CD only has six songs on it. Six. It plays them, and then it starts again. All day. For ten hours. And they're not even the real songs! You know when you go into Asda and they're playing The Beatles, but then, upon closer inspection, you realise that it's not actually The Beatles, but a group of Asda employees from the Wakefield branch, doing their own versions of pop songs? It's like that. The only thing that gets me through it is knowing I can go home, put Bob Dylan on, and eat my way through yet another Advent calendar.
To be honest, I've not actually been in work much over the past two weeks, so my Christmas CD listening has been relatively limited, although by all means no less distressing. I went to Loughborough to visit my friend Belinda, then had a quick break to see some more friends in London where I realised, not for the first time, that I am not cut out for Big City Living. Within two hours of being there, I had been on the receiving end of no less than three,"for fuck's sake!"s and one, "make your mind up, darlin'!" - it's a good job the capital city was not established in the North or there would no doubt be a massacre and the streets would not be littered with cigarette ends and newspapers, but rather lifeless flatcaps and tobacco pipes, their owners lying in a field somewhere, bruised and broken because they took more than three seconds to decide which way they needed to go.
I left London (much to the relief of its residents) to carry my tour up to Nottingham to see my friend Bella play a gig. (If you're interested, here she is). I use the term 'friend' lightly - she has now been demoted to 'acquaintance' after tricking me into going to a ceilidh on Friday night. If, like me, you do not know what a ceilidh is, then when someone asks you to go to one, do not just casually agree until you know what you are in for. I have since discovered that a ceilidh is, according to Wikipedia, a "traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves Gaelic folk music and dancing." If you know me in real life, or if this blog has in any way enlightened you to the type of person I am (which it should have by now), then you will know that a social gathering requiring anything that falls into the category of active participation is not something I am fond of, especially if said participation requires me to be coordinated. On an average day, I trip at least three times before I've had my breakfast (most of the time over my own feet), I trip up the stairs at work and I don't think there has ever been an occasion that I have ridden a bicycle and not fallen off. Coordination just isn't my thing, and it especially isn't my thing in the backroom of a pub as I am looked down on by a 70 year old man wearing a sweater vest and Diadora trainers.