Christmas with Hannibal (and Bridget and Harry and Adrian)

Hannibal's Lecter's Christmas lunch
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Hannibal's Lecter's Christmas lunch

Hannibal's Lecter's Christmas lunch

CLARICE STARLING slit the envelope with a kitchen knife and took out the single, silky sheet of paper. She knew at once, before she even glanced at the signature, who had written to her.

Dear Clarice,

Christmas? Thank you so much for inviting me to answer that question.

After the turbid passage of a year, is it not a season when the confluence of rich cinnamon and the unguent of fresh, abdominal sweat paint the palate with desire? I have laid the table with lacteous satin, with chylous damask. Perhaps you do not share my admiration for the tiny pink flecks which decorate its edges, here in my personal laniary, my private shambles. No? Then "tu proverai si come sa di sale lo pane altrui" - Thou shalt know by experience how salt the savor is of other's bread, and how sad a path it is to climb and descend another's stairs - as Dante advises. Our own language provides only for the difference between meat and poison. How much subtler the distinction between salt and bread.

Now let us proceed with the festivities, Clarice. Sit down with me, and partake.

On Christmas night, I shall breathe in, ingest the sanguinary delights of the meal I have created. A decorous number with a passionate pancreas and melted cream upon a thick thymus gland. Lead, kindly lights. I shall be dining with an angel, listening to a warm Gregorian chant as I spoon the goo through a pair of gravid lips. It suppurates upon the silver dish. It is in my mouth as honey for sweetness, in honour of Ezekiel, the softest of the prophets.

But first I must prepare. Listen. The serrated edge creating each cicatrice, and the deliquescent, slithery texture of the fingers as they move over the semi-gelatinous surface, these are sensations you would die for. Yes, you would.

I let my tongue linger over the tips of all six fingers. Are we not all so tempted? Whether a doge or a duchess or southern white trash raised on cornbread and 'lasses, do we not all of us dunk? Even you, Special Agent Starling. The marsala trickles into the pan. Mmmmm.

The English are crazy about Delia. They see her holding an egg, caressing it, one button of her richly floral shirt exposing her throat. They stare into her olive eyes, and imagine pressing their tongues against her fleshy lips. They see her bracelet, dangling at an angle. But they are fools. They do not see the inner Delia, as I do now, pert and flirtatious upon my fork. Her beatification is complete. Every last single sliver.

Will you not join me, Clarice?


Christmas Eve with Bridget Jones

WEIGHT: 8ST 13lb (yesss!). Cigarettes: 6. Number of boyfriends expected for intimate Yuletide supper: 1. Number of glances at Delia Smith's Christmas Cookbook: 17.

7.30pm Is v. nice sitting here on own in flat on Xmas Eve, but knowing that Mark Darcy is coming for supper. Feel incredibly centred and secure, like in book, Eight Steps To Festive Empowerment, that Shazz gave. Have got casserole (boil in bag, but sure he won't mind), mince pies (Marks & Spencer). Plus have made Yuletide log from D Smith recipe, with white icing and holly.

7.35pm Hm. Problem is, was no icing sugar left, so have used cotton wool from vanity case. Is bit smudged, but feel is important to make effort.

8.00pm Will just have little glass of wine and cigarette while wait for Mark. Am wearing black cocktail dress from Bhs, which is v. nice, as does not show arse. Wonder what Mark will bring as present. Maybe lovely Nicole Farhi jacket, or perhaps challenging intellectual book by B. Elton?

8.05pm Or something.

8.15pm Ooh. Is important at time like this to think of fellow Singletons who have not got glamorous boyfriend, prospect of unlimited shags etc. Think about them for a bit while having little glass of wine and cigarette.

8.45pm Expect Mark will be here soon. In fact is probably walking up road now.

9.15pm Still no sign. Expect has got delayed on train or had to do v. important last-minute thing at work. Turn casserole down a bit.

9.16pm But could have rung, though.

9.45pm Where is the bastard?

10.00pm Is at times like this when important to realise one is empowered person, in control of destiny, not dependent on whim of some man etc. Will just have one little glass of wine.

11.00pm Is blurree good, this wine! Whee! Urgh. Think had better sit (lie) down.

2.00am Aargh! Is smell of burning (casserole). On doormat find note that says "Where the hell are you, you stupid bag? I waited 10 minutes and then left before I froze to death."

Christmas Day with Harry Potter

CHRISTMAS MORNING at Hogwarts dawned cold and white. Harry and Ron Weasley, the only ones left in their dormitory, looked out of the window to find Hagrid, the gamekeeper, arm-wrestling one of the centaurs while a vat of egg-nog stewed over a nearby brazier.

"Wake up," said Hermione Granger loudly, pulling back the curtains.

"I've been up for nearly an hour trying on my new Tommy Hilfiger hag's micro-robe and test-driving the broomstick Daddy gave me."

Harry was conscious of a bleak feeling of unease that not even the sight of the two parcels Hermione pushed towards him - one plump and rectangular, the other long and thin - could dispel. He opened the first parcel to find Professor Balthazar Batwing's Sortilege for Key Stage 4 Warlocks.

"Gosh, thanks Hermione," he said. "You think of everything."

All through breakfast, though, despite the magic snow and the steaming piles of enchanted reindeer dung, Harry was aware of the deep shadow of foreboding creeping up on him. "God, will you look at that scabby oik," Draco Malfoy was saying to his friends Crabbe and Goyle while Ron Weasley sat sadly over his plate. "His father's so poor he could only afford to give him an exploding tree. My father gave me a regiment of goblins with matching evil-eye accessories." But Harry barely heard. He could hear the voice reaching out to him again. Come, Harry ... You cannot escape ... Tie him ... Bind him ...

Was it the evil Lord Voldemort hunting him once again? What was he to do? Leaving the dining hall he found himself drifting towards the girls' dormitory, driven by a force he could not fight off.

Inside it was dark and dim and there was no one about. Something monstrous and heavy hung from the ceiling above him. What was it? What was going to happen to him? Suddenly, without warning, the light flicked on. He saw Hermione standing in front of him, poring over a leather-bound book called Charms for Princess Charmings. "So it does work," she breathed happily. "Look upwards, Harry, and tell me what you see."

Harry looked. "Er, mistletoe?" he ventured.

"That's right," Hermione smiled. She pointed at the other parcel, which Harry realised he was still carrying under his arm. "But you haven't yet opened your other present."

Harry realised that for some reason his glasses had misted over. Was this another sign that someone was employing the Dark Arts against him?

"Go on Harry," Hermione whispered. "Show me your wand."

Adrian Mole's Christmas week

WEDNESDAY, 22 December

The strain of the Millennium is beginning to tell. Firstly, I have been encouraged by Pandora to have a vasectomy, so that, in the event of a crisis on the Today programme, I shall be able to stand in. When I point out that this means we shall never have our daughter, Liberty, her pager goes off. Now that she is a junior minister in the Department of Transport, she is forever being bleeped and rushing off in a taxi.

"Mr Blair is unafraid of fatherhood," I said. "Yes," she replied, "but he is setting an example to the nation."

The whole family is limbering up for the Christmas edition of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. Apparently it is to be shown three times during the evening. It is a sad reflection on our times that we can no longer look forward to a repeat of the Morecambe and Wise Show, especially the one with Glenda Jackson.

"Aah, she used to get her kit off," said my father, in a melancholy voice. I point out that she once played the Queen! "I bet she won't be watching Chris Tarrant," I told him. He thought I meant the Queen, and insisted that she would be. "Probably as a contestant," he added. He also claims that she came fourth in a poll of top songs, and that one of the princes (Edward?) came ninth. My republican dreams are dashed.

I won four tickets to the opening of the Dome at the New Labour tombola (there is something wrong with this, but I cannot work out what). To my utter amazement, none of my so-called family wishes to join in our national celebration. "It is much, much more than a giant sheet of stretched plastic," I told William. "There is a zone for everyone. It will be magnificent, like Crystal Palace." Glenn responded by reciting football results. He has no imagination.

This Christmas I have set up a new family website. It is called (The last . is a full stop, not a dot.) I am hoping to bring together all the Moles in the world, to celebrate Y2K. So far I have had 112 responses, none from Leicester! Unfortunately, they are all interested, for some reason, in trousers. I have sent Mr Blair a Christmas card. I can quite see why he also finds the Internet baffling.

With apologies to Thomas Harris, Helen Fielding, JK Rowling and Sue Townsend