Happy Christmas, war is over. It's Boxing Day but I'm hanging up my gloves for another year. I need some peace and quiet. Things have been pretty weird down here of late.
I've never been that lucky at Christmas. When I was about six, I acquired some great boy toys called Snap-its which made a noise when you stepped on them. I littered them around my bedroom on Christmas Eve and set up a makeshift trip-wire by the door. I think it was about 2am when I awoke to the sound of swearing and an almighty crash. I turned on the light to find my dad spread-eagled on the floor nursing a broken ankle, the contents of my stocking strewn across the room. It was the end of innocence. I'd never heard him swear before and I knew that Father Christmas was one big fat lie. All that was left of my childhood idyll was the Easter Bunny and it wasn't long before he was carted off by the local constabulary for having one too many "little secrets".
This year it was the shopping. I've nearly come to blows with grown men over the last Barbie Princess Royal Carriage set and had a five minute tug-of-war with a farmer in Waitrose over the very last bag of Brussels sprouts. In the end, the manager intervened and confiscated the bag and neither of us got it. I remember screaming something at the farmer about why he didn't actually grow some bloody sprouts instead of spending his EU subsidy on the chemicals that made the 50ft chickens grow so bloody big? The manager chucked me out of the store.
Driving back home, sproutless, was the first time that I noticed the granny joy riders. I was going round a blind bend on a country lane when a little Mini Metro came the other way like a bat out of hell. To my disbelief, the driver was a little old granny and she took the corner on two wheels. I instinctively pulled off the road as she shot past me. I continued on to the next village where, stopped at the lights, I was just lighting a soothing fag when another blue rinse pulled up beside me in a little Volkswagen Polo. She looked over at me threateningly, gunning her pathetic little engine. I looked back a little nervously, not quite sure what she was after when the lights went to amber. Before I could do anything else she raised a crinkly middle digit in a gesture of unmistakable aggression and roared off leaving me to choke in her dust. Shocked, I popped into the local pub to have a restorative snifter. I told my story to the room full of dour looking local men. They all looked unsympathetic and sank their bearded faces deeper into their pewter tankards. Eventually one of them piped up from the back, "If you know what's good for you, you'll leave well alone and mind your own bloody business, townie." "You don't want to get on the wrong side of that lot. Keep your head down. It's just the time of year. It'll soon be over," said another nervously puffing on a Woodbine.
I tried to get them to tell me more, but Countryfile came on the pub telly and they were away with the birds.
As I walked down the hill from the pub to my house I heard a commotion coming from over the wall of one of the big houses. Curious, I shinned up a cedar tree until I could get a good vantage point. In front of the big house, parked on the gravel drive was an assortment of rubbish little cars and a large group of grannies all hanging around on the bonnets smoking and chattering excitedly. As I strained to get a better look at them a branch snapped and a couple of them spotted me. It was pandemonium. They all jumped into their cars and roared out of the gates. I legged it down the lane. Most of them disappeared into the night but a couple of them chased me down towards the church. I crashed the village carol service and got the vicar to walk me home. They wouldn't touch a vicar I thought. Maybe it is just the time of year and I'll get used to all this, but it's not easy being a townie.