I was listening to the radio recently and George Cole, the actor who played Arthur Daley on Minder, was being interviewed. It was frankly a very dull interview, saved only by its brevity and a single interesting comment. Chris Evans was desperately casting around for another line and stumbled on what George was going to have for his Christmas Dinner. Having delivered Yes / No answers on everything to date I was expecting Turkey but hang on! – it’s steak tartar and tinned peaches for George & Co. Very bizarre and in an odd sort of way I’m quite tempted as it challenges the predictability of the traditional feast. As a family we are quite dull in our culinary approach to Christmas, it will be Turkey with all the trimmings but we do throw in a curveball or two to liven things up. Two seasons ago we came up with the potato lottery which I would heartily recommend. Midway through the potato roasting extract a couple and carefully bore out a small hole, insert frighteningly hot piece of chilli (a few seeds of a good Naga do the trick) and replace the bored out piece of potato, seal with a dusting of flour and oil, complete the roasting. You will then have a tray of crispy, crunchy roast potato one or more of which will enliven the proceedings no end. I was the perpetrator of this one, told no-one and almost killed my father. Last year, we had just come back from a holiday in Vietnam where we had bought a strange collection of hats. The hats ranged from the classic working man’s coolie hat, to a soldier’s communist pith helmet, to ornate strange shapes of woven silk worn by musicians, to the woolly hats from the mountainous north – all of which guaranteed minimal comfort and maximum embarrassment. We then substituted the Christmas Cracker hats and dished out our travel collection. It was particularly hard on Ken who got the pith helmet which doesn’t sound too much of a hardship until he discovered the communist star was not sewn on or stuck on, it was bolted on with the stub end of the bolt impaling one’s forehead. No wonder communists are so grumpy. This year I am going to knobble the crackers. Amongst the assembled masses we are lucky enough to have four Olds – Olds is a term used within the family after my mother objected to be referred to by my niece as Ancient. The Olds range from mid seventies upwards. Three out of the four are good, compliant citizens whose quality of life is enriched by the use of hearing aids. The fourth is my mother! She is utterly convinced that her hearing is a sharp as a pin and she does not need any assistance. Her Christmas cracker is going to contain a pair of HD350s, carefully wrapped and with the banger removed. Ken will be busy pre-emptively bandaging his head, my father will be carefully studying the potatoes for signs of tampering and hopefully this year my mother will be able to hear.
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