I woke up early on Christmas day 1984, seriously hung-over after an inpromptu party the night before. The planned party at my place had been abandoned due to a lack of real beer (see previous issue), but we had made the best of it and had a great time with all the other revellers down at the White Hart, our tiny and ancient local pub, so no serious harm was done to the partying.
I stumbled from my bedroom out to the living room to find my mates Phil and Ian fast asleep. Ian was fully clothed complete with coat and boots and had obviously slept exactly where he fell just inside the entrance. Phil had done a little better, and was on the sofa with his trousers round his ankles and his arms above his head entangled in his sweat shirt, evidently having given up in the middle of an attempt to undress himself. We had agreed we would cook our Christmas lunch ourselves at my place this year, so it was time to get started. I kicked and shook Phil and Ian and shouted, “TURKEY TIME!! TURKEY TIME!!”at them until they groaned into consciousness and started questioning my parentage while suggesting I perform a physically impossible act with the turkey. Eventually they sat upright and looked around for a while until they got their bearings and pieced together enough evidence to work out where they were. “Oh.. right.. Merry f@#*ing Christmas,” Phil said, scratching his groin and obviously full of seasonal cheer.
After taking turns in the bathroom, the three of us stood in a row clutching mugs of hot coffee to our chests and looking silently at the huge raw bird sitting on my kitchen table. None of us had a clue where to start. Ian picked up a packet of ready-made stuffing and ventured the first guess. “I think you shove some of this crap up its arse first…” This was clearly going to be a challenge.
Eventually, after several rather embarrassing phone calls to Phil’s mum, we had enough instructions to give it a go. We peeled potatoes and carrots and washed Brussels sprouts and followed all of Phil’s mum’s instructions. A couple of hours later the three of us were standing in the kitchen with a turkey in the oven and pots bubbling on every corner of the stove. We were quite pleased with ourselves. What was all the fuss about? Nothing to it. We should do this every year!
We sat down for lunch a little after 1pm. All the trimmings were there and all the colours were right, everything looked great. We raised our glasses and wished each other a Merry Christmas before I started hacking at the fat brown bird with my sharpest knife, while the other two started piling their plates high with vegetables.
It was awful. The turkey was blood red in the centre, the vegetables were rock hard and the stuffing up the bird’s arse was stone cold. Half an hour later we were with our respective families pleading for food. And actually, in the end, I was glad. If you have a choice, you should always be with your family at this time of year. Wherever you are, and whoever you are with this year, Merry Christmas!