Zooming into British pals’ kitchens, copper pots and flan pans jockey for position on bulging Agas. And the things they’re cooking! I knew I’d have to arm-wrestle a naked turkey into the gynaecological position in order to stuff chestnuts up its various orifices, but pheasant, rabbit, goose, duck, pigs in a blanket … If I follow my friends’ gourmet instructions, come Christmas Day my kids will be busily chomping their way through the entire cast of Beatrix Potter’s books.
British buddies are bombarding me with tips on snipe-trussing, tongue-potting and vol-au-venting … But the kitchen’s not my natural habitat. Put it this way – I use my smoke alarm as a timer. Potential Christmas-related culinary catastrophes are starting to pile up in my mind like a Chinese acrobatic group. What if I drink too much on Christmas eve and forget to take the turkey out of the freezer – meaning my guests will arrive to find me defrosting the giant bird with a hair dryer, giblets wedged under each armpit? (The turkey may be raw, but girl, your goose is well and truly cooked!)
What if I pour too much rum over the pudding and set my eyebrows alight? The mopping of fire extinguisher foam from the flambe-ed faces of guests is curiously absent from Nigella’s TV cooking program.
In fact, I’m beginning to think that “turkey” will sum up the very day itself. And it’s not just the cooking I’m worried about. What if I forget to attend the church hall for the Christmas pageant and get cast off into Social Siberia? (It’s mandatory in England to attend the local nativity play – whether you need the sleep or not.) Is it any wonder my nerves are more jangled than the reindeer bells of the squadrons of plastic Santas sleighing across my mantlepiece?
I’m going to insist my family sign a contract agreeing not to laugh if my attempt at a British Christmas implodes like a soggy Yorkshire pudding. Let’s call it a Santa Clause. Failing that, I’m just going to slip a little something hallucinogenic into the egg-nog – as soon as I work out what the hell that is.
As I’m not at Mum’s, I got to buy my first Christmas tree which I’ve decorated in koala baubles – a more welcome decoration than the tree snake my Brizzy girlfriend discovered hissing at her through the tinsel. At least a British Christmas will be safe from python visitations, unless pals John Cleese, Terry Gilliam or Eric Idle drop in …
And speaking of festive fun – what to wear? An Aussie beachside Chrissy has one dress code – “Clothing Optional”. But so much flesh flashing does require you to suck in your stomach so hard, your neck gets thicker. One upside to a British Christmas is that the camouflage of thick clothing allows you to hide a multitude of chins under some totally kitsch comedy jumper.
The ultimate upside to a British Christmas is that it’s imperative to drink a lot of whisky, just to stave off hypothermia. And, after the year we’ve had, who doesn’t need a drink?
Still, no matter which hemisphere you’re in, at least the pressure’s off to come up with a New Year’s resolution; just use last year’s list. Although I do think Life should make a New Year’s resolution – a promise that 2021 will be a vast improvement on this year’s debacle. As I watch the Queen’s speech, live on Christmas Day, I hope Her Maj banishes 2020 to the Tower with the commandment: “Off with its head.”
And so, friends, have a safe and sanitised Christmas, and hug your loved ones extra hard, because it’s bloody awful when you can’t.
Kathy Lette is an author. Her latest bestseller is HRT – Husband Replacement Therapy.
Kathy cites her career highlights as once teaching Steven Fry a word, and scripting Julian Assange’s cameo in the Simpsons’ 500th episode.