New Years Eve: Then And Now

2016 wasn’t so bad. For me, anyway.

Oh, on a worldwide scale it’s been a bloody horror. For a start, many of my cultural icons have died. People who have a genuine place in my heart, people who created films, music and other works which are tied to cherished memories which will forever now feel tinged with sadness.

Then there’s the current political climate. I personally think Brexit was a bloody stupid idea and Donald Trump is a bloody stupid…man? Lizard? Gone-over-orange-in-a-wig? Whatever. The point is, whatever you think of Farage or Trump or May or any of them, everything is kind of up in the air right now and that’s scary as hell, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

No, 2016 had a lot of good moments for me and my loved ones, was riddled with absolute arse for the world as a whole and while i’ve no reason personally to detest it, i’ll not be sorry to see this year breathe its last as 2017 comes screaming out of the metaphorical birth canal and takes responsibility for the next three hundred and sixty five days of nonsense.

What I want to talk about right now, folks, is New Year’s Eve itself. The evening of the 31st of December, leading into the wee small hours of January 1st, often spent in the company of a shitload of alchohol and a whole lot of poor decisions.

I remember some years ago, me and my friend Big Dave (honestly) set off on a pub crawl around Crewkerne, our old stomping ground. We would have been around eighteen or nineteen years old and had plans to hook up with the rest of our merry crew later that night to ring in the new year but we first decided we would head out to a wee village pub not far from us.

The plan was simple. Enjoy an early evening ale at The Globe, walk the mile or so back into town and hit every one of the I-can’t-remember-but-I-want-to-say-12 pubs that were open at the time and round out the night with much carousing in the Crown, our local.

I remember spending at least half an hour at the bar in Ip’s Palace, a local Chinese restaurant, because they had excellent prawn crackers and reasonably priced Budweiser.

I seem to recall drinking about one quarter of a pint in the Nags Head before leaving, after realising that it wasn’t beer we were drinking, really. It was more like beer flavoured dog piss. Bloody awful pub, the Nags, but it’s now a very nice Indian takeaway, so there’s a thing.

I have a slightly fuzzy recollection of making it back to the Crown a little before 12 and fighting my way to the bar to order a drink, before linking arms with my companions, belting out a slurred rendition of Auld Lang Syne and tongue kissing someone, no idea of their identity or gender, before moving on to the serious business of building a Sidekicks pyramid the height of the bar.

That was then. This is now.

I am a 32 year old, much married father of two and New Year’s Eve, 2016, finds me draped across the sofa in my cosiest pyjamas. They are fleecy and tartan and feel like being hugged by some sort of Scottish angel made of warm clouds. I am drinking Lucozade, because I am ill, but it’s Lucozade Zero, because i’m diabetic and actual Lucozade would probably kill me.

Some of my family are getting together tonight to ring in the bells but i’ve had to say no. I can’t stand up without wanting to fall down, both of the kids have been rough as hell over Christmas and asides from the fact that I fear the winter may take me, i’m buggered if i’m going to be patient zero in the plague that kills off the McLellan clan. They all understand and sad as I am to not be with them tonight, it’s the best thing, really. I’ll give them a bell around midnight and they know I love them and all that other soppy, human stuff, so that’s fine. So what AM I up to?

I’m watching Pokemon trading card pack openings on Youtube with Child Unit 2. In fairness, he’s playing Geometry Dash on the tablet and i’m watching the Pokemon videos, wondering if some lucky bastard is going to pull the Hoopa full art that I want for my collection. I want us to spend some time together and every now and then he does actually put the tablet down and start chatting away, at which point I realise just how lousy I feel and kind of wish he’d go back to his game so I could half-doze. Obviously, I feel guilty no matter what i’m doing, because parenting.

Child Unit 1 is upstairs on her very first smartphone. She’s 9 years old, 10 in January and she’s lying on her bed, video chatting to a school friend on Whatsapp. In the frazzled, plague-ridden, distressed parenting centre of my brain, this innocent video chat will almost certainly lead to a career of lewd webcam gyration*.

Normally, when people say “Oh they grow up so fast” my first thought is usually “One day at a time, because that’s how time works, dickhead”, but it’s true. Time seems to be passing faster than it did in the old days and my babies aren’t babies anymore. It’s wonderful and terrifying in equal measure and most days I just hope I don’t fuck it up SO badly that they resent me for it.

My wife, wondrous creature that she his, has just finished a 12 hour shift. She’s a nurse, she does an important, incredible job that I simply could not do. She might make it past midnight or she might have to head upstairs to get some sleep before long because she has another 12 hour shift to do tomorrow. Whatever. It would be lovely to have her here around at midnight, but i’d sooner she got some rest if that’s what she needs. It’s just a tick on the clock and as I plan to spend all the rest of the ticks I have with this woman, I can hardly complain if she spends a few of those ticks asleep from time to time, can I?

So that’s my New Year’s Eve, 2016. The Child Units are doing their own thing, for the most part. Marital Unit muttered something about incense and fired up Pokemon Go, having handed me a slab of Panettone that would choke a walrus. My head hurts, my joints throb and my throat feels like it’s been vigorously assaulted with a spiky rogering stick.

When I was younger, i’d be just about hitting my stride about now. Four pubs down, eight to go and a kebab stop at ten to keep me going.
This year, I decided against having a midnight dram because it might not sit well with my meds.

I wouldn’t change a bloody thing.

Happy New Year, folks.

* I fully support anyone who chooses a career in webcam gyration. I’ve got a couple of friends who make a bloody good living wobbling their bits online and I wish them well. It’s just…she’s nine, guys. I panic easily.

’twas the run up to Christmas

Bad Santa

’twas the run up to Christmas and, lo and behold,
thousands of folks trudging out in the cold.
Their hands and feet frozen, the wind in their eyes.
they scrambled to get to the last few Mince Pies

The slow and infirm were trampled in the scuffle
to get to the last box of cheap Belgian truffles
While countless poor souls were lost in the fight
for a bottle of wine, to toast Christmas night.

Suddenly, the crowd spun around with a yell
and charged all at once, like a pack out of Hell.
They bashed and they battered, they pushed and they shoved
For word had got out, “M&S!” “Sale on gloves!”

“My granny would love them”,”Forget her, their mine!”
“LET ME THROUGH, LET ME THROUGH!”,”OI! Back of the line!”
From my vantage point, by a display of ties,
I witnessed the horror with my very own eyes

As each shopper vied for a place in the queue
A little old lady hobbled into view.
I cried out a warning but alas, she heard not
and was trampled to naught but a small, greasy spot

Now dashing and darting, now punching and kicking
Biting and gouging, eye poking, ear flicking
I saw one woman wield a small boy, like a club
and I watched as the poor lad started to blub

So, ’twas a mercy, when she swung with such might
that he slipped from her hands and flew out of sight
(He was found, safe and sound, some thirteen days later
in a display of cardigans, near the escalator)

Without her weapon, she was soon overcome
By a tag teaming granny and stay-at-home mum
With a zimmer frame shot to the side of the head
and a kick to the ribs, they left her for dead

They fought tooth and nail over jackets and sweaters
to answer the wishes of loved ones Christmas letters
While, in the background, the Christmas muzak plays
the same track repeated for twenty-odd days.

Son against daughter, father against mother
they beat seven Jingle bells out of each other
charging through the store like stampeding cattle
soon, the shop Santa was drawn into the battle.

He leapt from his stage, with a blood curdling yell
and upon the crowd of naughty shop-goers he fell.
He had such broad shoulders, with arms like two trees
and a right hook which would bring a Clydesdale to it’s knees

A fearsome sight in his suit of bright red
he hoisted one old dear right over his head
and with a dark chuckle, brought her down through a stack
of cut price DVD’s, snapping her back.

At the sickening crunch, the shoppers took pause
such was the wrath of this store Santa Claus.
They could tell without doubt, Kris Kringle was pissed…

And so, boys and girls, the moral of our story
is to be kind to others, or face an ending most gory.
And I heard Santa roar, as I ran for my life

Merry Christmas everyone.

Merry F@#&ing Christmas!

It’s the 1st of December, folks and you know what that means. The countdown has officially begun!

Having said that, my countdown started a wee while ago. We put the tree up last weekend, we went to an incredible, local Christmas market, we’ve worked our way through the first few DVDs on the Christmas movie shelf (oh yes, I have a whole shelf) and we’ve eaten that many mince pies that my last shite was shortcrust.

Of course, I understand that some of you aren’t quite as nutty about  Noël as I am. You’re tired of the over-commercialisation, you’re exhausted by the stresses and strains of preparing for the big, family celebration or you’re just allergic to dates. That’s fair enough. You know what’s NOT fair enough? Telling me not to enjoy Christmas because you’re a miserable bastard.

Actually, no. It’s fine. Moan and piss and whine and whinge all you like. If that’s part of your holiday tradition, then fill your boots, i’ll stick to warming my chestnuts in front of the Birchwood Log Fire on Netflix.


All I ask is that when I tell you that I love Christmas, that i’ve been looking forward to it all year and that given the current tattered mess that is my mind, I am really in need of some holly, jolly times, you have the decency to grudgingly mutter “each to their own” and go about your business of shitting all over someone else’s good times. Whatever, I guess.

I think what makes me sad is that sometimes it seems that people don’t enjoy Christmas because they’re doing it wrong, to be honest. Take this over-commercialised business, for example. We live in a consumer driven society and Christmas has, admittedly, become a big part of that. Doesn’t make it a bad thing though, does it? We all like stuff and at Christmas we can give and get stuff. Stuff is fun.

Doesn’t have to be that way, though. I was up until 5am for the past two nights hand drawing and colouring and cutting out 24 little Christmas parcels and 24 baubles. I wrote a bunch of fun activities on the parcels and little love notes and treats on the baubles, then I blu-taced them up on the wall for Marital Unit and the Child Units to discover this morning. Quick, easy advent calendar that would have Kirsty Allsop shitting herself with envy and it cost the price of four or five sheets of card.

We watch old Christmas movies, cuddle up on the couch and drink hot chocolate. We draw Christmas pictures together and put them up as a window display in the lounge. We drive through town to see all of the Christmas lights, not just the display put on by the town itself but the lights in the houses. It’s old fashioned fun and it’s like a soothing balm for the soul, assuming you believe that you’ve got one. I sold mine for a beer about 14 years ago, but if I hadn’t of done that, it would be soothed.

We do hit the shops, though. Marital Unit and I spent an entire day being pushed and shoved around a shopping centre a few weeks back, to hunt down gifts and grab little treats and oddities which make Christmas a bit more special. We’re not rolling in cash, but if we can spoil the kids a little, we will. We also work hard to make our children understand time spent with family is the best thing about Christmas and that whatever gift you get is wonderful, whether it’s an expensive gadget or a box of sweeties.

They believe it, too. Last year the kids got tablets from Santa. They were thrilled, of course. They were just as thrilled with getting a pair of fluffy, Rudolph socks each.

As for stress, yeah. Yup, can’t argue that. There’s tons to do, between shopping (again, if you do any) and cooking and cleaning and oh wait bugger me it’s not that different to any other day. Seriously, stress is always there, gnawing at you. That’s my life, anyway. It’s amazing though, that come Christmas morning when the Child Units see the crumbs left behind by Santa (sloppy eater, might leave out a bib this year) and we tuck into our traditional breakfast (croissants. What? I’m allowed SOME luxuries in life) and then yes, we open pressies…it’s worth it.  We laugh together, play with their toys, listen to Christmas songs while we get ready to go visit family and if theirs snow then you can bet your frozen ass that we’ll be building a snowman and we’ll take a nauseatingly adorable Christmas photo where we’re posing with him like he’s a real person.

Ah whatever, folks. I’m not arsed how you do or don’t do Christmas. I just hate to see people being miserable when it seems like they might enjoy themselves if they removed the industrial size stick from their puckered anus. Not my lookout, though. As Scrooge said, “keep Christmas in your own way and let me keep it in mine” and we’ll all get along like a snow-covered, country cottage on fire.

Merry fucking Christmas.