So I’m sitting in the single bed that I sleep in when I’m visiting my family and the floor is covered in wrapped and half-wrapped presents and I’m trying to remember when I last had such a genuinely nice day. I woke up to hear my parents gently bickering with one another, and my mother’s frantic hoovering. But by the time I’d got downstairs, they were practically out of the door – off to do some Christmas shopping. My brother and I chatted for a while and then flicked through the vast amounts of music channels that Sky provides before finally assembling coats and gloves and going out ourselves…
Eleven-thirty and we’re wandering through John Lewis and Debenhams making rude comments about the slow people and the people with really bad hair. And we’re trying to think of presents for our mum and one of our grandparents and that particularly annoying cousin – and sneakily buying each other presents on the side when we think the other one is kind of looking away. And we find something really cheap in the sale at Habitat that we can give to that awkward person who’s impossible to buy for and it’s a complete fudge and we don’t care.
And then we go to the cinema – me swearing like a trooper at any car that tries to get in our way – my brother getting slightly over-excited. And we have to go to the top floor of the car-park where the light’s really bright and strong because there are so many other people around. And we’re going to see The Two Towers because we’ve both been excited about it forever and we go and see it and it’s pretty good but not as good as it should have been but we’re still kind of awed by the battle of Helm’s Deep.
And we’re driving home picking apart the bits of the film that we don’t like and we give it marks out of ten and then compare notes about the coolest characters and the biggest changes to the plot and the whether that character was taking the micky and whether Orcs should sound like characters from “On the Buses” and whether Ents would really be like that, and although we’re not sure that the film was as good as we would have liked, our conversation is probably better fun than any film could ever be.
Back at home mum and dad are grumbling at each other in a kind of amiable background noise kind of way, and they let my brother put on the cricket because he’s not at home that much and so can get away with murder. And we show them the presents we’ve bought other people and then I go and grab the cheese that I’d bought in London a couple of days previous from where it’s being stored in the cellar and we sit in front of the fire and open the packages one by one and everyone in the family sniffs them and makes appreciative noises.
And then my brother and I go upstairs with my mother and start wrapping up presents on my bedroom floor. My brother decides to tease my mother a bit and so I join in and it’s one of those occasions where if we got it slightly wrong we’d get lynched, but we didn’t so it was tremendously entertaining. And we’re looking through the presents that we bought for no one in particular and now have to decide who to give them too – like the Paul Auster book or the tiny bottle of lemon after-dinner liquer and trying to work out who would love a present like this, before my mum goes and finishes the toad in the hole while I’m checking my e-mail and then we all have a huge meal.
Whereupon my brother and I are abandoned in the sitting room with hundreds of TV channels and a roaring fire, and we watch loads of music videos and discuss the history of new metal and then watch Tom Green and Monica Lewinsky and then turn off all the downstairs lights and go to bed… What a nice day…