Friday 30 September 2016

How to save Christmas from violent soaps and plasticated turkeys

Published 21/12/2015 | 02:30

"My dad used to say we had only two days off a year in the pub. The other day was Good Friday, which wasn’t much fun" Photo:PA

Here are a few tips to make Christmas that bit easier on all concerned (and even those who aren't in the least bit concerned about the season that's in it.

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First, do not under any circumstances drink too much red wine. There should be a warning on the bottle and it must read: "This is fruit juice, but not really, and drinking too much on the big day ruins it for everyone."

It might seem that bit strange for a publican to advocate abstinence or moderation, but we do. The pubs in England are open on Christmas Day. We're closed, or at least most of us are - or should be. It's bad form opening up pubs on Christmas Day.

Christmas Day is a family day. My dad used to say we had only two days off a year in the pub. The other day was Good Friday, which wasn't much fun. The Church was still very powerful, but in a negative way. There were terrible sad programmes and the test card was the only picture on show until after three in the afternoon, which was the time the Church reckoned Our Lord died at.

For the younger folk, the test card was a combination of squares in blacks, whites and greys, which helped TV men to get the colours right even though there weren't any colours.

I do have some sympathy for the people who live alone and maybe their only way of meeting people on the big day is at the pub.

So tip two is be nice to the lonely people and maybe invite them over for a while. Put a time limit on the stay. We invited a man for Christmas dinner once and he stayed for 15 years.

We always had callers when we lived over our pub. Lads knocking looking for a drink. None of the regulars ever knocked, it was usually lads who craved for the things they couldn't get like other lads' wives and drives in helicopters to the races on St Stephen's Day.

There was no drinking at home much when I was a young lad, although we were very lucky in that we had our own pub and as we got older we took turns to bring pints of draught beer into our kitchen or upstairs.

The old theory was that drinking at home was bad for you and your family came to an end with all the cheap drink in the supermarkets - but the Government, to its credit, put an end to that just a couple of weeks back.

Of course there was a financial plus for the State. Our tax rules state that there can be no VAT on below-cost selling. So millions upon millions in VAT were lost with all of the below-cost selling, which is something people weren't probably aware of.

Ah, but the multiples were clever. They left the exchequer short so that, in effect, the taxpayer was sponsoring cheap booze even if we weren't actually participating in the feast of drinking.

So if you were buying cut-price drink thinking you were getting a great bargain, the truth was you were effectively sponsoring the red yourself, which drew more people in to buy stuff they didn't really need but couldn't resist - like prawns in mermaid sauce and the like.

And it only takes one person at a check-out to serve hundreds of people. Pubs need bar staff and it takes many times one to serve pints, what with resting time. So go to your pub - but not on Christmas Day.

This tip might prove impossible to enforce, but soaps should be banned on Christmas Day for the very same reason the pubs are closed. Which, if I'm not mistaken, is to promote family values and for the keeping of the peace at home.

There's bound to be a few murders and possibly a session of carry-on under the mistletoe with someone else's missus. And it's usually a family friend who will be doing the kissing. Ho ho ho.

'Fair City' is great though.

'EastEnders' has already sent out a little teaser. There's a picture of a coffin with the mourners standing around so all the fans are dying to find out who will die off this Christmas. It's probably an actor who played Oliver Twist as a child star and got into the habit of asking for more, only this time it wasn't porridge but money. So the BBC killed him off. This is all mere supposition.

The BBC released a trailer showing a car crash in a wood and there's talk of some woman having a baby with some man who isn't her regular partner and waters breaking all over the place, and I'm not talking about the Shannon.

I know there are some of you who will be very annoyed with me for telling you the storyline, but it's good enough for you for watching all that sadness, sex and violence on Christmas Day. And all the time the kids are witnessing lads killing each other and using awful bad language on PlayStation while the mothers are getting stuck in to the red wine and violent soaps and the dear old dads are looking at your man McGregor pucking the head off some lad who is already semi-conscious.

Great practice that for the teens and they fighting after too much drink on St Stephen's night - or Boxing Day as they call it in England, which is a pretty good name for Ireland too with all the fighting the poor gardaí have to put up with.

So tip three is no violent TV. It's the day of peace and a day of celebration - and I'll fight any man who says differently. I'll be reading PJ Cunningham's delightful book of stories on rural life. PJ's 'A Fly Never Lit' beats 'EastEnders' any day.

There's another tip, tip four, and I give it out every year but still we hear tales of plasticated turkeys. For some reason the turkey companies insist on wrapping up the giblets and gizzards and liver and heart in plastic bags.

Cooks very often drink some wine at home while they are cooking the turkey (see tip three) and so are prone to error. There is no breathalyser in kitchens, even with all that hot oil. So the cook forgets to take out the plasticated giblets and the turkey tastes like tar.

I almost forgot, don't forget the batteries. I think that's tip five.

And a very happy Christmas to you all. And that's tip six, which is to write a newspaper column and spare a fortune in Christmas cards.

Irish Independent

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