Friday, 26 December 2008

Mostly rubbish presents

Red berries on a shrub in the garden
Christmas: been there, done that. It gets better each year, or else I just get used to it, and yesterday was pretty good. I took the day off work (!), stayed in bed until 9 a.m. and made scrambled eggs with smoked salmon on toast at about 10 a.m. We opened our presents next.

We only give and receive presents from each other and Mr A's family. I'm glad we don't have high expectations, and I hope the family doesn't either, because this year's gifts were absolutely rubbish. First of all, Mr A realised earlier this week that not only had he forgotten to take his son's card with him last time he went to Manchester, he had completely neglected to buy him any kind of present at all. Mr A sent books to his parents, looking good as new but actually purchased from the local Oxfam bookshop. His sister had asked for liqueur chocolates and a book about birds, but he'd forgotten about the bird book and couldn't find any liqueur chocolates in town. I found some in the greengrocer, not the first place you'd think to look.

In return, we received a Sainsburys gift card from his parents. While it's very kind, this is a non-present, because we just buy regular groceries at Sainsburys. Sister gave me a scarf and a calendar, which I shan't complain about because I don't ever get her anything. She gave Mr A some liqueur chocolates, which had been arranged in advance, but - Mr A's not drinking for six weeks, ever since the blood tests showed a high level of some liver enzyme. The doc was pretty casual about it, saying that Mr A needed to cut out alcohol for six weeks but could start in the New Year. Mr A thought he might as well start straight away, so he's not had a drop for about ten days now. So no liqueur chocolates for him.

On the same theme, The Boy sent us books from Amazon. Mr A opened his first, and found two: a Liver Detox diet and a Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse. He wouldn't even open them. I had a look inside - the detox diet is fine, it just suggests the usual healthy eating with extra faddish nonsense, but probably not harmful. The miracle cleanse is another matter altogether. The same author has written a book about diabetes, where he suggests that diabetes is not a disease: "diabetes is a complex mechanism of protection or survival that the body chooses to avoid the possible fatal consequences of an unhealthful diet and lifestyle." This is not just nonsense, but dangerous nonsense. The non-production of insulin is a serious matter and can lead to brain damage and death. It is not remedied by a 'healthful lifestyle', nor has the body 'chosen' diabetes in response to an 'unhealthful diet'. It's written by a man who describes himself as a 'medical intuitive'. Utter tosh.

To be fair, I doubt that The Boy has read the miracle cleanse one, although I know he has done the detox thing a couple of times. He also sent a second book parcel, to me this time, containing the latest Stephen Fry book about America and a war book for Mr A, much more likely to please him.

I haven't even mentioned the extra random presents that Mr A brought back from a friend he stayed with in Manchester, who'd said they were just surplus books, wrapped nicely. I thought that was quite a good idea, and a good way to circulate books if they'd been read and you didn't want to keep them. When I unwrapped mine, it turned out to be about Eric Cantona, the French footballer who played at Manchester United in the eighties. Oh dear.

The presents we gave each other were much better, and consisted of DVDs: Band of Brothers, a box set of Anthony Trollope from the BBC, the first series of the Onedin Line from 1971, and Brideshead Revisited (not the recent film, but the series with Jeremy Irons).

After the present opening, we planned the day. Smurf had told us that the pub was going to be open for a couple of hours, so we had to go there and say hello to all the regulars. Around this fixed point we worked out the timings for the guinea fowl and got all the veg and stuffing ready. We did a bit of reading, watched some of our DVDs and a bit of TV, went for a walk around town, and that was it.

We never had a tree or decorations when I was growing up, so I've never bothered, and because I've never bothered, neither has Mr A. He misses all the fuss, though, so next year he wants to do it all properly - tree, decorations, have the family round, walks, games, endless food and drink, the lot. I'll give it a try, you never know, I might like it.

Today's another day, though, despite the attractive selection of films on TV and the heaps of new DVDs calling from the living room. I'm back at my desk, looking forward to revising the advantages of expressing transgenic proteins in chloroplasts rather than the nuclear genome. Then I'll be packing for our week's holiday in Shropshire. Unless there's some sort of Internet access, I'll see you in January. Happy New Year!

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