Harriet Walker: 'Why does Christmas bring on such torpor and agoraphobia?'

Share
Related Topics

I kicked off the festive season by getting stuck in a lift, and I'm ending it stuck in an armchair, practically Velcro-ed in place by some malevolent superpower that dictates I can only watch TV, read my book and snooze with my mouth open. Why does Christmas bring on such torpor and agoraphobia?

"I'm only really going home for a day," one of my friends told me over a drink – our last chance to see each other before I turned into the lovechild of Scrooge and Jabba the Hutt. "I'm working up until Christmas Day and then I'm on holiday. And then we'll be at church, of course, and out on a hike on the day itself." My hair and nails practically retreated into my skin in horror. The thought of even venturing outside at this time of year makes me ill. My family spent Christmas playing The Beatles: Rock Band last year, a brilliant innovation, because strumming the plastic guitar gives some impression of exercise and hitting the little drums with a stick is practically a work-out.

So the fetid atmosphere and unintentional intimacy of a lift should have been perfect for me at this time of year. But it was very small, and also stuffed full of colleagues from The Independent. We'd been at a rather gluttonous drinks party, so our combined weight plus that of all the pigs-in-blankets and mince pies consumed, tipped the lift into creaking paralysis. That, and the fact there were 11 of us rather than the stipulated eight.

"Jump up and down all together to get it working again!" the host counselled through welded-shut doors. "Wrench them open with your nails!" demanded one of the more rapacious trapped journalists. "Why don't you play Angry Birds on my phone?" suggested one of the more tender-hearted among our number to a boy purpling with panic in the corner. Whether he was claustrophobic or journophobic, it was hard to tell. We had never seen him before and when we finally escaped, he was too busy being sick to answer. Escape we did, of course, rescued by firemen whose top lips curled at our quaking and screaming – and quite right, too: when the doors opened, we had only been about a foot from the ground floor.

I was amazed by my own reaction in that metal cube. At first, hysteria; swiftly followed by discomfort (high heels); anxiety, not at the reduced amount of space or air, but that I might throw up on a colleague; and finally, an overwhelming sense of frustration that this lift was simply not where I wanted to be for much longer.

Just like this armchair. I'm going to stand up now and put on some make-up, maybe even have a wash.

Right after this mince pie.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine