Sunday, December 21, 2008


I don’t have the Christmas spirit. I look for it. I try to find it. It just isn’t there. Looking back over the years, even when I was spending the holiday with The One That Got Away, The Blonde with the Butterfly Tattoo, or even in Burbank with the Dreamworks crowd, I enjoyed the company rather than the event itself, which never seemed to mean anything.

Maybe years and years ago, filled with that giddy enthusiasm you have as a child with no cares in the world, I eagerly waited for the day to arrive. For so long now I simply wait for it to be over, for the hullabaloo to die down and things to get back to as close to normal as can be. It’s not that I actively loathe the holiday. It’s just that it doesn’t mean anything.

Because I don’t focus any attention upon it, just like last year (and possibly years before that), yesterday morning I actually had to flick through the diary to see when Christmas Day actually was. A few cards had flopped through the letterbox during the past week so I figured it was getting close. And it turns out that it’s less than a week, which means there’s no time to return any cards and the cost of a ticket home is now probably going to be phenomenal.

Even if I had been incandescent with Christmas cheer, yesterday would have doused the spirit. It started with the guys coming to give my boiler its annual inspection. They came early. Still, at least they finally came, especially after I had waited in a week last Thursday afternoon, last Saturday morning and then Tuesday morning, only to receive a call each time that they couldn’t make it.

In recent months the boiler had developed a few quirks of its own but ultimately it still delivered hot water out of the taps and into the radiators, so its own peculiarities were no big deal. Except, by the time the check up was over, dials and switches had been pulled off, panels had come unscrewed to expose the spaghetti of wiring behind, and obviously there was no hot water available.

Later on I got a call saying that parts had been ordered but for some reason they had to come from Manchester, which already suggested that I would probably have to climb into the kettle if I wanted to wash in the next couple of days. Even before then the day was getting worse. Just after the engineer headed off the doorbell rang. Figuring he had forgotten something I bounded down the stairs only to find a very dour looking Jehovah’s Witness on the doorstep. It didn’t help make either of our days any better.

Still, there was a bright spot in the day. Mister Mark and his missus were coming down and I was expected an ETA call. Except, when the phone rang, it turned out to be someone wanting to talk to me about gas and electricity comparison prices. Obviously that was very nice of him to make my life better, even though my first instinct was to ask him to simply skip to the end and tell me what he was selling.

Even when I had told him that I didn’t care what utilities charges were in Southampton and the last time I swapped suppliers it turned into an utter clusterfuck because of employee incompetence he still kept going. So apparently I could get a better deal if I switched over to... oh, you know what, I didn’t bother writing it down. It was something to do with twigs and trees and things, I think, although there are good chances that I could be wrong.

Because of waiting in for the engineer I hadn’t got to the supermarket. I suppose I could have in the days before but I was vague about how long I was going to be here and I get put off being bumped along the aisles by shlubs loading trolleys up with enough crap to choke a whale. After Mister Mark and the missus headed out I nipped up the road to grab a bottle of spaghetti sauce. While I was out I bought a chicken samosa because I hadn’t eaten all day and figured it would make a good snack long before the food was cooked. That turned out to be a big mistake.

The last couple of days I found out I hadn’t been drinking enough. I don’t mean alcohol. Actually, there hadn’t been any alcohol. I was invited to a couple of informal soirées that book-ended the working week but cried off because I couldn’t even summon the fake bonhomie necessary for such a situation. Instead, having cut back on coffee and finding it too cold to neck down glasses of water, I simply hadn’t been drinking.

One thing I didn’t know about dehydration is that it turns your urine dark drown. Pissing Worcester sauce into the toilet bowl came as something as a shock. So socked in fact that I took a step backwards which didn’t exactly help matters. A couple of pints of water put that right, which was good because there are other factors that can darken urine and they’re not pretty. Shame overcoming the reaction to the samosa couldn’t have been as easy.

It was very tasty, making me wonder why I hadn’t eaten one for a long while. I even wondered if there was any point cooking later. Then, about an hour after I had swallowed the last corner it felt like my internal organs were in the process of rupturing. Having a bullock stand on your foot is painful, but you can holler and give the darn animal a push. With this there was nothing I could do.

Half a dozen trips to the bathroom and nothing happening, I was in a cold sweat and curled up on the floor in absolute agony. I’ve only just mentioned in the previous post that going to a doctor is never an option unless something major happens. After almost thirty minutes writhing in pain, I was reaching the point of calling for an ambulance. The epicentre of pain was close to my appendix and I wondered if had ruptured and lacerated my small intestine into the bargain.

Luckily once I dragged myself back into the bathroom again, this time I managed to vomit the offending article into the toilet. After an equally violent encore ten minutes later things finally started to calm down. Having earlier wished that I had managed to run a hot bath before the boiler magically crapped out, by then I would have preferred to have simply gotten around to shaving.

So I suppose the moral of the story is, if you’re a Scrooge to the festive holidays, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come can appear in many forms, day or night. Still, there’s always a bright side to the story, even if it doesn’t have me running merrily down the street shouting, “Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!”, which is of course a different story altogether.

I managed to book my ticket home cheaper online. This year I was hoping for a pass, hiding up here over Christmas, but since it turns out we’re not spending the day at my sister’s, it’ll be a whole lot better. Also the past couple years I’ve had calls from a lovely actress friend who spends the holidays with pals just up the coast from my folks to see if we could meet up. Either I’ve stayed up here or arrived back to London before I got the call.

This year she got in early and we’ve arranged a get together the Sunday after all the cracker pulling. On her suggestion it start with her coming over to meet my parents before we head out. So, that’s going to be interesting.


At 3:28 pm, Blogger wcdixon said...

You definitely need to drink more...alcohol, that is.

Merry Christmas!

At 8:34 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

I was that close to hunting through iTunes for Don Henley’s Building The Perfect Beast and hit on You’re Not Drinking Enough. God, what a weekend it was. And Saturday’s copy of The Times didn’t have the regular Samurai Su Doku. Bastards!

This afternoon I phoned to ask about the boiler parts and got a recording message saying everyone had buggered off on their Christmas holidays and wouldn’t be back until after the New Year. I figured that would be a good time to get the vodka bottle out of the fridge but made myself a mug of cocoa instead. Pathetic, I know.

Have a good Christmas yourself fella, all the best for 2009.

At 9:56 pm, Blogger Lara said...

Crikey, mate. What a time of it! I hope you're feeling a bit better now - so you have no heating either or have they 'just' left you with no hot water? What a bunch of muppets. Well, try & have a good Xmas mate - just make sure you drink lots: vodka, cocoa, water, whatever. x


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