Charles Nevin: The pastimes you need in an emergency

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The Independent Online

Happy Monday. It's the Third Day of Christmas and many of you will be wanting some tips on what to do, having exhausted the traditional pastimes of exclaiming yet again at the beauty of the tree, smirking at elders sleeping with their mouths open, and addressing outstanding issues around presents, namely how does it work and can I change it for something that isn't beige.

How about: 1. Guessing the number of dropped pine needles. 2. A staying awake sweepstake between 2pm and 5pm. 3. TV Snap: first to shout it on hearing these words: festive, special, yuletide, in the grip of, shows no sign of relenting, archbishop, sales, jingling tills, hunting, happy couple, looks back, "nothing on" and "you'd think they'd make more of an effort". 4. A used wrapping paper smoothing and folding competition. 5. Encouraging relatives to recreate, painstakingly, Bruegel's Hunters in the Snow in the back garden. Thank you.

Dieslunaephiles, or lovers of Monday, will feel a special glow today at the notable privilege of standing in as a substitute bank holiday for Christmas Day. Next Monday, too, excitingly, is Substitute New Year's Day Bank Holiday. We see these as highly significant steps towards rebranding Monday as Funday. We also feel that the battle to replace dull and slightly priggish Sunday as the First Day of the Week is all over bar the re-calendarising. Some will argue that a substitute role is second best at best, but we point, significantly, to the vital impact of the players on the bench in any number of sports; and my mum still recalls powdered egg, 1940s vintage, with great fondness.



Retrospectives being fashionable at this time, I thought I would list my Top Ten Gleanings of 2010: 1. The British spend six months of our lives talking about the weather. 2. And a year looking for a parking space. 3. And lose £57m in change down the back of the sofa every year. 4. Percy Edwards was the voice of Ridley Scott's Alien. 5. Tartare sauce makes you dream. 6. Jeanne Moreau's mother was a Tiller Girl from Oldham. 7. David Miliband shares a birthday with the late General Galtieri of Argentina. 8. The Romans grew 37 different types of pea. 9. Snails have a homing instinct, eventually. 10. Most human victims drown before being dismembered and eaten by a crocodile. Happy New Year!

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