Just the title of this blog is enough for most people to throw their Quality Street up in the air and say “Oh fuck, a depressing one!” but despite spending Xmas on my tod, with limited human contact and zero presents…I had a fucking good time!!!
In previous years, as these posts prove, Christmas for me was progressively more and more crap. It was ace as a small child, fun as a slightly bigger child and unendurable drivel by the time I hit my late teens.
This year I spent the Christmas period in Sydney, Australia house sitting for a friend. She’s in Thailand visiting her sister and I’ve had an entire home to myself for the last two weeks in return for keeping the cat fed and the doors & windows locked.
As Christmas loomed ever closer I wondered what I could and should do. After all, being British I grew up in an era of plastic commercialization where Songs of Praise on the 25th of December was seen as a nuisance, especially if it clashed with a Bond movie on ITV.
I Googled various events and things to do and there were a few but nothing spectacular. I wondered if I could maybe go to a Couchsurfing meet up. Maybe a pub get-together at some central bar. Or what about a picnic in one of the parks?
All of this appeared decidedly underwhelming so I decided to grit my teeth and do very little this Xmas.
My gremlins were talking to me in little whispers as the days counted down to Yuletide.
“You must do something. You don’t want to be a misanthrope on Christmas day!! Go out and do something, make some friends. Try and be sociable!”
I ignored them and decided that I’d simply take my bicycle out for a ride, after getting up at (the very earliest) 10 o’clock.
In Sydney right now it’s summer (opposite seasons to the UK), a fact that used to perplex me as a child back in England. The thought of no snow, or even rain, on Christmas Day was just….WRONG.
When Xmas day came I rolled out of bed at around 11am, had a leisurely cup of coffee and then got the trusty cycle out.
I then took my time biking over to Coogee Bay, which is one of the main places that people go to when doing a summer Christmas (or so I had heard).
When I got there, sweating profusely, there were literally THOUSANDS of people on the beach. Many appeared drunk and I realised very quickly that I wanted no part of it.
Nipping in to the youth hostel I’d stayed in when I first arrived in Sydney back in November, I went to say hi to the long-suffering manager and drop him off a small present (hey, I am the nice one). He was dressed as the world’s most morose looking elf, taking turkey with all the trimmings out of the oven for his (apparently very drunk) hostel guests. The common room had been turned into one big dining hall, with mince pies and crackers at every place. Realising that he was busy and then some, I gave him his gift, took a photo opportunity of him dressed in an elf costume, said I’d come back in an hour when they’d finished…and then sodded off for a walk along the beach.
As I squeezed my way through hundreds and hundreds of people the only thing that was enjoyable about it was being able to have a good old perv over all the delectable young women in bikinis. I made my way up to a secluded part of the cliff face and sat there alone, watching the waves and letting my sweaty T-shirt dry in the warm breeze.
Making my way back and there were two New South Wales cops on bicycles talking to a possibly drunk black lad who was taking umbrage at something. He was waving his hands about and being quite obnoxious. I wanted to get a photo opportunity with the police but after about 10 minutes of the cops patiently explaining that they’d told him to move on because he was arguing with someone, him claiming they were racist and judgmental, and the cops repeatedly telling him to move on.
A white guy then turned up stood nearby yelling to the black kid “Hey, mate wanna smoke some weed?”
Realising it was a lost cause I wandered off, getting back to the youth hostel to find the manager (still dressed as an elf) now in the process of banning a drunken guy for repeatedly spraying sun tan lotion around the premises.
Conversation went something like this:
“You need to be out of my hostel today, find somewhere else to stay!”
“What for, it’s only a bit of suntan lotion!?”
“I’m sick of you, you’ve been warned. This happens every day. You got it all over the floor and you’ve upset that girl, it’s all over her shorts!”
(Drunken guy looks sheepish, says sorry and then tries to shake hands. Manager glares at him).
“I’m not shaking your hand again, every day it’s a new story with you!”
We got outside and I wished him and his girlfriend a happy Yuletide and as they left to go for some Christmas cheer with his family, I cycled home.
When I got back to the house, I decided that a cup of filter coffee and the reading of a good book on the deck, outside were in order.
I then spent the best part of my day sipping Lavazza gold from a mug and finishing a Jack Reacher novel.
Seeing a horde of pissed up, bikini wearing people on a beach and two separate aggressive incidents in the space of twenty minutes (and I don’t flatter myself those were the only two in that vicinity, or even in Sydney that day) made me realise that when I was home with my book with my feet up, I actually felt good.
Hanging out with scantily clad, inebriated things was not a pleasure.
My father is in Greece, my brother in Thailand. I’m not speaking to my mother.
For once I had a totally isolated Christmas doing what the fuck I wanted.
No Christmas dinner.