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A CHRISTMAS QUIZ; It's Christmas Day, the turkey's been gobbled up, so it must be time for some festive family fun.

'Right then, here we go, quiz time, guess the year' Charlie, having enjoyed a post-dinner brandy or three, missed the 'play' button with his first attempted poke at the stereo. But he eventually found his target and the sweet sounds of St Winifred's School Choir filled the air.

Grandma, we love you, grandma we do, though you may be far away we think of you

Charlie had turned up the volume on the stereo on purpose, in the hope of waking his dad. Dad had been 'resting his eyes' for nearly 40 minutes. Indeed his eyes had been so well rested that Dad's paper hat was halfway down his face and his mouth was wide open. He woke with all the grace of a man who had started quaffing port and lemon sometime Dad with grace man before breakfast.

'What's that, what's that noise?' 'We're doing a quiz, Dad.' 'I hate quizzes,' said Dad, as he tried to rearrange his cardigan so the zip was over his stomach rather than under his armpit.

'Come on, love, have some Christmas spirit' said Mum.

'Christmas spirit? I think you'll find' began Charlie, before being rudely interrupted by his younger sister in a way that only younger sisters can.

'Don't say it.' 'Don't say what?' 'Don't say, "I think you'll find he's had enough Christmas spirit - whisky mainly."' 'I wasn't going to say that,' lied Charlie. 'Well, whatever dim-witted combination you were planning don't.' Anne gurned happily, pleased with the Christmas present she had just given herself - getting one over the first-born child.

St Winifred's Choir continued to sing.

'What is this rubbish?' asked Dad.

'It's a Christmas number one,' said Charlie. 'In the pop charts.' 'This? When did this drivel make it to number one?' 'I can't tell you that - it's a quiz.' 'It's psychological torture is what it is.

Turn it off.' woke the of a ' 'No, I like it,' said Mum, as she started to sing along. She even tried to tap her foot in time to the music. But as her foot was at that moment ensconced within a humongous novelty slipper in the shape of a swan, no sound was made.

who'd quaffing since 'Where have the others gone?' asked Dad.

'Walking the dogs,' said Mum. 'They couldn't bear your snoring.' 'I think you'll find that I am only alive today because of my snoring. I was in the Arctic Circle' Charlie interrupted as quickly and as forcefully as he could. No one wanted another of Dad's stories, least of all on Christmas Day. Christmas Day could easily turn into Boxing Day if Dad was allowed to get up a head of steam.

'It's 1980. It was 1980. The year was 1980!' 'Keep your hair on. I knew that. 1980, I was just about to say it,' said Dad.

'You weren't.' 'I was. I remember it. Didn't one of you two have a child around then? Could have been a girl. Or perhaps a boy.' 'Yes, I did have a son in 1982,' said Charlie, drily.

'Thought so. Come on then, next one.' Charlie switched to the next track as he considered whether to take off his novelty Christmas jumper (80% polyester), or perhaps turn down the heating. He was sweltering, but all the Christmas trimmings in his stomach persuaded him not to move. Besides, the heating control was about half a mile away. He could have rung for someone he supposed, but it didn't seem quite right on Christmas Day.

You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, when I met you don't, don't you want me Dad leaned back in his chair for a moment as he listened to the song, his eyes glazed. 'I met a cocktail waitress once. Fine young filly she was' 'Did you indeed?' asked Mum. Sensing danger, Dad immediately leapt into a fit of coughing. As he doubled over, Charlie dutifully hit him on the back in a well-rehearsed routine. Dad tried to steal a glance at Mum as he pretended his chest hurt. If Mum was looking angry he would have to faint and lie low until the dust settled. But fortunately for him, Mum was looking at her notes. Anne got the quiz back on track, '1983?' 'No, it was 1981 actually.' 'I was just about to say that,' said Dad. 'Of course you were, Dad. Tell me this one then.' It's Christmas time and there's no need to be afraid do they know it's Christmas time at all? 'Right then, I remember this one,' said Dad as he sneaked a miniature sausage roll into his mouth.

'Oh, me too,' said Mum. 'All those poor little children wandering around, starving.' 'Hey come on, we won't talk like that on Christmas Day,' said Dad, with his mouth full.

'I want to enjoy myself, not spend my time thinking about those less fortunate than me. I don't want to have to feel guilty every time I have an After Eight. Speaking of which, have we got any After Eights?' Charlie and Anne spent a minute discussing whether their Dad had ever heard of Ebenezer Scrooge, while Mum took the opportunity to bring out some ham rolls. Dad, despite being full to the brim, thought he could manage one or two.

eat my 'Was it 1989?' asked Dad. 'I'll give you that, it was 1989 and 1985.' No, I'll eat Christmas cracker!' Dad kicked a stray ball of wrapping paper that happened to be near his foot in celebration. Unfortunately, having been immobile for nearly two hours, his hamstring wasn't ready for such excitement. The quiz was interrupted for a few minutes as Dad tried to curl his foot back while pleading for an ambulance.

Christmas time, mistletoe and wine, children singing Christian rhyme 'Oh good, a nice proper Christmas tune. Is it 1998?' asked Mum.

'1998? Are you mad?' said Dad, whose mood had darkened somewhat by the lack of sympathy he received concerning the serious spasm in his leg. (It was not cramp.) 'He hasn't had a hit for donkey's years. 1988 I'd say. 1998, my foot.' 'Well, I'm sticking to my guess,' said Mum.

'And if it's right, I'll eat my Christmas hat,' declared Dad.

'And if I'm wrong, I'll eat mine,' counter-declared Mum.

'They're only made of paper - not much of a challenge,' added Anne, mischievously.

'Alright then, a cracker! I'll eat a cracker,' proclaimed Dad.

'That's no good, you eat crackers all the time, usually with cheese.' 'No, you daft old bat, I meant my Christmas cracker - and whatever's inside too.' 'What if it's nail clippers?' asked Mum. 'It would be a terrible way to lose you.

Imagine what the papers would say.' 'I don't have to worry about nail clippers. I'm right.' Dad pulled himself upright in his chair, not wanting to slouch as he approached vindication. 'Come on then, son, tell us.' 'You sure?' 'Of course. Put your mother out of her misery.' 'Alright then the answer is 1998.' Dad's eyebrows shot up into his hat. '1998? I don't believe it. Are you sure?' 'It's right here in front of me.' Dad slumped back into his chair, deflated. 'Well I'll be. I could have sworn' 'Here you are, Dad, start munching on this. We'll let you off the inside bit, I think it might be a miniature pack of cards,' said Anne as she handed a cracker to her hat.

dear father.

'Oh, thank you very much.' actually, ' Dad, with much reluctance, but also with as much honour and dignity as he could muster, tore off a bit of the cracker and put it in his mouth. He started to chew.

'You don't have to eat it. It was only a joke,' said Mum.

'I'm eating it.' 'But love' 'I'm eating it. Bloody 1998, can't believe it. Could have sworn' Goodbye, my friend, I know you're gone, you said you're gone, But I can still feel you here 'How about this one then?' asked Charlie. 'It's by the Spice Girls if you're interested.' 'Don't care. Stupid game,' said Dad as he continued to chew.

'Come on, Dad, have a guess.' 'No.' 'Alright, I'll tell you1998.' There was a long pause. 'Hang on a bloody minute' Mum tried to stifle her laughter as she stood up and placed a little crown on her head and removed the novelty slippers from her feet.

ALAMY.'Well, nearly 3 o'clock, suppose I best get off and make that speech. And afterwards, we'll discuss that cocktail waitress'

Dad woke with all the grace of a man who'd been quaffing port since breakfast 'If I'm wrong, I'll eat my hat. No, actually, I'll eat a Christmas cracker!'
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Dec 17, 2017
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