In the Red: Present misery will await me after a hard Christmas Day’s work


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The Independent Online

I implore you to shed none of your tinsel tears for me, but come Christmas Day – when those of you who celebrate this festival of generosity and indigestion will no doubt be up to your forehead in the high yuletide – I will be working. No intravenous eggnog for me.

In Fleet Street newsrooms, tragically, Christmas Day is pretty much like any other. In this game (and by that I mean the ever-decreasing hokey-cokey circle of modern print journalism), you either get Christmas or New Year off; never both. Well, unless you have more golden pips on your epaulettes than I possess.

As a result, I am well used to spending large chunks of Christmas Day writing and editing chewy morsels of news to fill the paper on Boxing Day. And, notwithstanding the fact that most newspapers traditionally sell between four and seven copies the day after Christmas, we have to be seen to be out there and available for purchase from your local newsagent.

Of course, you would think that the news you read on Boxing Day would tend to be dominated by the fact that huge swathes of the global population like to call a temporary halt to their warring and revolting.

But, of course, that cockle-toasting old story about the festive Us v Them football match played out in the mud of the Western Front on Christmas Day in 1914 has proven to be the heartbreaking exception, rather than the heartwarming norm.

Indeed, following that famed outbreak of Tommy-Fritz détente, things actually returned to violent normality very soon afterwards; in fact, it did so as soon as the following year, when such fraternisation was explicitly banned by the florid-nosed, bushy-moustached General Melchetts back at HQ.

And talking about orders from above, I have received word from my own personal Christmas angel (who, in truth harks little, but heralds much) that all of her four brothers and sisters are going to be buying me individual presents this year.

And this is worrying for two reasons. Firstly, it means that I will have to scrape together sufficient funds to furnish each of them (plus Mum and Dad-in-Law) with magnificent presents.

Well, perhaps not “magnificent”. Do you think I could get away with giving each of them a JML Pedi Pro for the stubborn hard skin on their feet? Would this qualify as a slap in the face (or foot), or a thoughtful gift to end their pumicing permanently?

The second worry is that because I, as I mentioned already, will be working for most of the day, by the time I get to their house, all of the major present-giving will have been completed. This will mean that whatever I give them cannot be hidden in the general melee of ripped wrapping paper and will be scrutinised out of all proportion.

Actually, perhaps electronic foot buffers are to be avoided…

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