Bah Humbug Apostrophes

Season’s greetings and all that crap. It’s not actually Christmas yet, so let’s get down to business. Apostrophes. Come on, people! It’s pretty simple really. I’m not going to explain it to you, as it’ll just fall on deaf ears. It would be far more effective, I thought, to just give you punctuation-abusers out there some examples you might remember. OK, like hell you’re going to remember, but at least I can get it off my chest and enjoy my mulled wine unburdened. So pay attention.

• You’re eating a lot of mince pies, you greedy bastard. (You’re = you are.)
• Your festive jumper isn’t ironic, it’s annoying. (The festive jumper belongs to you, hence your – not you’re. If you say you’re festive jumper, you might as well be saying, “You like jump up and down at Christmas time?”
• It’s fucking freezing out there. (It’s = it is.)
• The sodding tree has pissed all its needles all over the floor. (Its not it’s. I can’t be bothered to explain why. Just ask yourself would the tree piss all it is needles? That doesn’t make sense, so restrain yourself and don’t stick an apostrophe in here.)
• Have you done all your Christmas shopping yet? (Your – not you’re. If I say you’re Christmas shopping, I’m stating that you are Christmas shopping, as in right now, when in fact you’re probably lying on your backside eating more mince pies.)
• Thanks for the leg-warmers, Auntie Cynthia. They’re so 1980s. (NOT 1980’s for crying out loud. Get it right.) (Don’t get me started on they’re, there, their. On second thoughts, I’ll come to that in a minute.)
• Don’t even think of putting that Christmas compilation album on again. (Don’t = Do not.)
• Do they know it’s Christmas time again? (According to The Guardian, they do. And they also probably know there’s an apostrophe in it’s in this instance – unlike you.)
OK, deep breath. Count to 10. Time for the big one.

• There were six mince pies in this packet. Now they’re all gone. Whoever stuffed them down their pie-hole is going to get their arse kicked.

OK. I think that’s enough for now. (That’s = that is. There’s no such word as thats.) Happy Yuletide. (Yule not you’ll.) May the new year bring you peace, happiness and a deeper appreciation of apostrophes. (Apostrophes, not apostrophe’s.)

Away in Pret à Manger, a dubious Christmas poem

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The theme of this year’s Christmas poem is the frustrations of Christmas shopping, and I dedicate it to anyone who’s ever queued for the loo in M&S on a Saturday in December. We’ve all been there and it’s not funny.

Away in Pret à Manger
No seats to be had
I need some cake and coffee
And I need it real bad

I’m doing some Christmas shopping
Scrap the coffee – I’ll need booze
If I spend any longer
In the check-out queues

I trudge into Tiger
And am thrilled at the sight
Of cheap plastic rubbish
That won’t last the night

What to buy for my children?
Will they like it? Will it fit?
To be honest, I am thinking
They have got enough shit

I move on to Marks and Spencers
But I’m bursting for the loo
And join a zillion pensioners
In the world’s longest queue

We shuffle very slowly
Towards the smell of urine
To the songs of Noddy Holder
Mel’n’Kim and Springsteen

This is painful, I am wilting
Then I have an epiphany
I will treat myself to something
Slinky and sparkly

I hurry to French Connection
And emerge with a smile
It turns out that this foray
Was totally worthwhile

Be generous at Christmas
So says Mark chapter three
Dear father, I have done so
For I have given unto me.

My Bah Humbug Top 10

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In contrast to my last post, this week I’m unleashing my inner Scrooge and having a rant about the more annoying side of Christmas – namely, unwanted presents. So if you’re full of festive cheer, read no further – I don’t want to shatter your baubles. But if, like me, each year you receive gifts from well-meaning friends and rellies that you can’t wait to stick in a charity bag and evict from your household, read on. Here’s my Bah Humbug Top 10, in no particular order.

Mini bottle of liqueur with accompanying glass encased in vast quantities of unnecessary packaging

So you found yourself in BHS on 24th December with one hour to go before all the shops shut. And you decided upon this. Oh dear. What were you thinking? A £5 bottle of wine would’ve done me. No sickly liqueur, no tacky glass, no excess packaging. Charity bag!

Body lotion

Is it just me or is this the most over-bought, under-used product in the world? Someone, somewhere, is making money from old rope – or rather a plastic bottle, pretty label, some ‘parfum’ and 300ml of grease. Maybe one day when I start leaving a visible trail of dead skin flakes around the house, I might re-evaluate its worth, but until then, I will recycle it to my elderly neighbour Maureen, who recycles it to her granddaughter, who no doubt shoves it in a charity bag.

Reflexology socks

Just because I like reflexology and I always need socks, doesn’t mean that combining the two is a good idea. Do you think that if I put the reflexology socks on, Him Indoors will take the hint and give me a foot massage? Of course not! Also I feel slightly uncomfortable that you’ve given me a pair of socks with the word ‘genitals’ written on them. Don’t pretend you didn’t notice.

Chocolates

Are you deliberately trying to make me fat? Isn’t Christmas challenging enough on the calorie front without you giving me a box of saturated fat? And you know I’ll eat them because you know I can’t resist chocolate when I’m alone in the house with it. I take this as a personal affront, a declaration of war. You give me chocolates. I give you chocolates. Capisce?

Stand-alone picture frame

Seriously, where in my house did you spot a few inches of spare shelf space? It’s not that I don’t like the frame you’ve bought me per se, I just don’t like it enough. Space is limited. Car boot sale!

Sewing kits

You’ve known me all my life, so there’s no excuse for this. Moi, sew? I suppose you just fell for the pretty box it came in and were thinking I could put crap in it after I chuck the contents out. Right, so I’ll add it to the tower of spare pretty boxes in the loft. And then I’ll recycle it to you next year. Backatcha!

Dangly exfoliation thingies

Who invents this shit? The Dark Lord of Body Lotion, of course. I have another name for them: mildew magnets. Charity bag.

Panettone cake

Again you fell for the box it came in and the window display it hung in. Sucker. I have yet to taste a Panettone that didn’t need washing down with ten gallons of tea. Are you supposed to dunk it in dessert wine or something? Next time, just buy me the dessert wine. You can keep your dry-as-a-bone cake.

Toilet humour books

Thanks. Just what I always wanted. I’ll put it in the bathroom and guffaw at the hilarious jokes every time nature calls. And if I ever run out of loo paper, it will come in handier still.

Anything with the following done-to-death motto:

Keep Calm and Carry On. I’m doing just that, believe me.

Is Santa real? A Christmas poem

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This festive poem was inspired by a conversation I had with my 8-year-old daughter recently. As her questions about Father Christmas grew ever more searching, I was finding it harder and harder to make up convincing explanations to keep the magic going. Luckily, after demanding the truth, she took the news quite well.

Now the truth is out I feel quite relieved! However, now I’m faced with another challenge – keeping the magic alive for my youngest daughter while persuading the eldest to keep schtum. My eldest is pretty smart, so it won’t be long till she works out I’m now in an easily blackmailable position: “You want me to keep your dirty secret? That’ll be an iPad please. AND a puppy.”

Anyway, without further ado, here’s my dubious poem about how that conversation could have gone…

Santa’s days are numbered
The truth’s as good as out
My daughter’s asking questions
And I’ve only fuelled her doubts

It started with the wrapping paper
Should’ve bought a variation
I said Santa had to borrow mine
Not the greatest explanation

“How does he fit down the chimney, Mum?
And what if our fire was lit?”
“Santa wears extra padding,” I said
“Beneath it, he’s actually quite fit.”

“Wouldn’t he burn his feet though?”
She asks, increasingly thoughtful
I said, “His boots are fire-proof
And anyway, he’s immortal.”

“But how can he get round the world
In just one little night?”
“Well, Santa’s reindeer are magical –
Faster than the speed of light.”

“So will Santa get me an iPad, then?
It’s top of my Christmas list.”
“Um, he may have just run out of those,
Best choose a back-up gift.”

“An X-box then, or a puppy – please?
I’ve made a good impression.”
So I tell her, Santa’s just like us
Struggling with the recession

Then one day she comes out with it
“Mum, I don’t think Santa exists
I was looking through your make-up draw,
And found my old Christmas lists

“I also found my baby teeth
Rattling inside a pot
I wasn’t sure about the tooth fairy
So that would explain a lot

“Tell me, Mum, I’m right, aren’t I?”
Tears well up in her eyes
I hesitate, what should I do?
I’m caught in a web of lies

I tell my daughter, “Yes you’re right,
But cheer up – it’s not tragic
There are lots of other things to enjoy
That are filled with Christmas magic

“Like opening your advent calendar
Singing carols by candlelight
Decorating the Christmas tree
A family snowball fight

“I’ll miss him though,” my daughter sobs
I regret my revelation
“We could…” I say, “pretend that we…
Never had this conversation?”

“Let’s pretend that I just banged my head
And now I’ve got concussion.”
My daughter grins and we conspire
To forget this whole discussion

“Is Santa real? Tell me, Mum!”
She repeats the momentous question
“Of course he is!” I squeeze her tight
“What a ridiculous suggestion.”

A table for 13, please

The following series of emails is based on my husband Chris’s attempt to organise a festive get-together with his side of the family in Lincolnshire. Some paragraphs are real, others fictional. The senders and recipients are Chris, his Uncle Bob (former owner of a chain of restaurants, now retired) and Chris’s sister Jenny, a nurse. Names of places and characters have been changed. Except Chris, that is.

To all. From Chris:

Howdy all.

After hours of strenuous internet research, I can happily confirm that I’ve booked McDonalds for 12:30pm on Saturday 8th Dec. Only joking. I’ve booked The Castle on Duke Street, see attached map. It has a private room that can squeeze in all 13 of us, just to please you, Bob.

Jenny, I’ve reserved a highchair for Olivia. Bob, will you and yours be arriving by helicopter? If so, please warn them in advance so they can reserve a spot on their helipad:-)

They’ve asked that we order food one week in advance – see attached menus. As Mum probably won’t want anything fancy I’ve posted her a kids’ menu.

Chris

To all. From Bob:

Chris, many thanks for making all these arrangements – we do appreciate it.

I have a confession to make.

Having looked up on tinternet how to get to The Castle, I noted that 20% of the respondents to TripAdvisor.com rated it Poor or Terrible. So, I phoned The Castle to get a feel for the place, and was given a 10-minute fire and brimstone diatribe by the owner on how they have 1,000 customers a week and no one ever complains. Oh, and “all customers are self-abusers”.

Frankly if I were a Lincolnite and had the inclination to complain, I’d think twice too given that Attila the Hun is the gatekeeper. Anyway I took matters even further (OH NO I can hear Chris exclaim), yes, I’m your Uncle and I reserve the right to be bonkers. So I emailed the owner – Margaret – and I explained to her how she can respond to her critics if she feels that the criticism is unfounded.

I have to say, one in five can’t be that wrong – however, she didn’t reply and I can only assume that given she’s a geriatric exhibitionist who apparently loves to prance around behind the bar, she hasn’t got time for technology. Unfortunately she’s probably worked out when we’re coming now, as you CC’d me on the booking emails, so maybe she’s instructed the chef to goz in my plum pudding and fart into my wine glass. So, all in all it should make for a very eventful occasion, which I for one am looking forward to.

If this has made anyone remotely nervous I apologise in advance – and no we shouldn’t change the venue because it’ll be a hoot. Tell Tash it’ll make great fodder for her next book.

All will be revealed…

Mischievous and obdurate,

Uncle Bob of Bobbington Heights

To all. From Chris:
Right… Nice one, Bob. I suggest we move to Plan B. (Actually this would be Plan H, as I already crossed off several plans before submitting Plan A to all of you lot and I don’t have time to start the search for the perfect restaurant all over again as I’m two men down at work this week and up to my neck.)

So Plan B, if Jenny’s ok with it, would be for us all to meet at hers instead. We can all bring a dish with us, and a dessert, and have a buffet. The kids can run riot, we get to chat properly and we can all muck in with the cooking and washing up. It’s cheaper and we won’t get kicked out at 4pm. Well, we might…

And we won’t have a chef wanking into our rice pudding. What do you think, Jen?

Chris.

To all. From Jenny:

No pressure then.

Can anyone recommend a crack team of industrial cleaners to come and blitz my house so it meets with Uncle Bob’s standards? And by the way, we’ve got a new dog called Biffy who likes to hump everyone. Oh, and our loo doesn’t flush anything other than wee. Other than that, you’re all welcome.

Bring some chairs. About 6? Uncle Bob, you can sit on the recycling bin.

To all. From Bob:

Great response – you’re on fire my peachy little niecey-nephlings. This sounds like the best option. At least we won’t find a cock ring in the guacamole.

Now listen you lot, I’m quite happy to run the gauntlet with Atilla the Hun and see what unfolds. But Jen-Jen (I can just see you with folded arms and tapping foot giving me a withering side-long glance), if you’re happy to have us, we’re happy to come. Your house is lovely, and I’m not averse to some mess. After all, you have young kiddiwinks and we’ve all been there. I’ll make sure our lot empty their bowels before we descend upon you.

To make life easier for everyone I’ll draw up a spreadsheet of what food each team should bring. In the meantime, let’s move on to presents. Who wants what? Or shall we ditch the idea and just buy each other goats in Africa? Although Jen, I’ve just thought of the perfect present for you: an inflatable pink poodle. There, that’s one problem solved.

See you all on the 8th,, squadron.

Lord Bob of Bobsworth Manor

To all. From Jenny:

If you want to get me a present you can chip in with our kitchen extension fund. That way I can fit you all in.

Bring booze.

And no you can’t stay the night.

See you on the 8th.

To all. From Chris:

Sorry, I missed the last round of emails. Can someone bring me up to date? There’s a message from Margaret at The Castle on my voicemail asking if I can give her a call. I’m too scared. You do it Bob.

To all. From Bob:

With pleasure my little Chrissie-whissie. Can’t get enough of Margaret the Hun.

To all. From Jenny:

Bring crisps.

And Valium.

To all. From Margaret@TheCastle:

I suggest you bunch of morons all learn how to use the CC facility properly. In the meantime, you’re all banned from my restaurant from now until hell freezes over. Set foot in the door and you can expect a proper Attila the Hun welcome.

Good riddance.