On the Sixth Day of Christmas… one of those meals that you are obliged to go to in the festive season. A season I normally love but at every turn this year I seem to be bah humbugged. And this was the start. We were herded in for tepid soups and limp turkey. Separated onto a series of canteen plastic tables I was wedged onto an interesting table for exactly the wrong reasons. A white man, a recent immigrant, a wheelchair user and a pregnant woman. It took me a full ten minutes of political agenda being spouted at me to realise that the party the white man was lauding and eagerly anticipating a landslide for at the General Election was those bloody idiots at The Neo Extremist Party. There was visible discomfort from all as he ended his tirade on “they know how the common man doesn’t want any more bloody foreigners here, except you of course Ivona, you’re alright. Go on Rog. Great man that Roger Barrage!” A moment of uncomfortable silence was followed by my mouth uncontrollably responding that the man should also look up their other policies – to take away maternity leave and cut benefits, that every single person at our table would be hurt by their policies. The words fell on ears, not so much deaf, but closed with ignorance and wilful stupidity. Well that was awkward.
On the Seventh Day of Christmas… I reflect on a tough year at work. Almost my tenth year here. After the second year I became pretty much indispensable as the longest serving member of staff. Each year my work load and responsibility increases at a rate not reflected in my wage packet. I take solace in the fact that this is my last day in the office, I’ve booked most of the Christmas and New Year period off. They squawk around lamenting how it’s very unfair as I’m the only person that can do X, Y and Z. Pointing out that this is the first time I’ve taken time off over Christmas and have shown countless other people how to do X, Y and Z in my absence is just shrugged off. Last day in the office, but the Festive season feels out of reach as I deal with a complaint from a client about a member of staff making suggestive comments her. I take statements, write up a report, submit it to the board. Am told not to “blow this out of proportion”. No further action is to be taken. As I stare at the flashing Christmas lights around the office window I consider quitting my job for the seven hundred and thirty third time this year.
On the Ninth Day of Christmas… time to take in a show. Nothing like a good panto to get you into the Christmas spirit. But no. A washed up actor who was big from 1982 to 1984 with self-deprecating jokes that 70% of the audience don’t get because they weren’t born then. Going out for a drink afterward seems like a good idea. I know it’s time to go home when I’m having a conversation with one of our company and out of knowhere she shouts in my face “You’re an absolute dick!”. We’d been talking about the quality of the show and had been in agreement. I make a note to self never to be around her again if she’s drinking.
On the Tenth Day of Christmas… had to wait till pay day and now the inevitable last minute Christmas shopping. Actually not half as bad as I imagined it would be, the day seems to be heading towards a reasonable success, until the way home. Waiting as three buses from the notoriously crappy Last Bus company don’t turn up – I decide on a taxi. If we’re getting a taxi we might as well grab some food to take home. We go to the chip shop. It is a little after 7pm and already there is a 4 person queue of drunk people, literally flopping around the shop. They are served and move to the little bar at the side in order to attempt to eat their food. We finally get served, have the food wrapped and are heading for the door when one of the drunks grabs the ass of the girl behind us in the queue. We hear “don’t do that”, then “I’m warning you”. We are sidling out the door as the man pushes his luck for a third time and her fist connects with his nose. We are saved from the blood spray by the door closing between us. We are however, not saved from the large pool of vomit that has appeared just outside the doorway and takes away from the pleasure of seeing Mr Drunk get his comeuppance. We purposely walk through a lot of puddles on our way home.
On the Eleventh Day of Christmas… I turn on the TV for the first time this week. I find life so much better when I avoid it. This day being no exception as I suffer through 2 mind numbing minutes of discussion on whether the evil music moguls will get their talentless talent show winner to Christmas number one or whether the general public will revolt again. I switch off as they start playing the bloody awful, fake and saccharine Christmas number 1 contender.
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas… I quickly realise why we only see extended family at Christmas. As my normally joyful and energetic parents sit grey and sullen in the corner, they too realise it was a mistake to issue the invitations that they did. As conversations roll from politics through race, gender and human rights we quickly wonder how on earth we are related to these bigots. Despite herculean attempts to change the course of the conversations to themes less controversial, they rattle on. Two in particular have found their soap boxes and are standing steadfast on them and talking without drawing breath. I wonder if there was a switch at birth and they are actually white man’s relatives and not mine. After six hellish hours they leave with a cheerful “that was wonderful, we should do this again soon!”. I look at my mother whose inner strength normally radiates, but has been replaced by a grim demeanour that screams “please no more!”. We all sit exhausted and miserable. Merry Christmas.
New Year Resolution: Slightly belated as it took time to achieve. Resolution 1, quitting my job – both satisfying and regret free. Resolution 2, moving house – I can only describe our new home as a hobbit hole which requires a very good map in order to find. Resolution 3, visits to our new home by friends and family are invitation only. Escape from the world complete. The only thing left to worry about it next Christmas’s chart topping number 1, and I’m ok with that.