Wanna survive Christmas with your faculties and health intact? Join Miranda France in planning tactics for those parental wrangles, get away from it all with Thom Dibdin’s walk suggestions, or simply be a complete bastard until New Year.

Walking Blues

Comes a time during Christmas, round about when The Aunt has had one wee drop too many and discovers your Sid

Vicious albums; when the siblings have

taken the art oi rivalry to a pinnacle previously approached only in the wildest elements oi The Krypton Factor; when the parents, secure in the knowledge that more marriages break down over Christmas than at any other time, are themselves breaking several local arms limitation treaties.

Comes a time during Christmas when you have to quit. To go, leave, do a bunk, exit, take oil, shoot the crow and depart. When you have to get out at the bloody house.

‘Just oli tor a walk,’ is the saiest and best retort under these circumstances. Not too loud though, otherwise you could wind up spending the next hour in the company oi the teetotal uncle who is his usual charming, light-hearted, exuberant and, worst at all, inquisitive sell.

It is important to prepare properly lor such walks. Many an over-zealous Christmas walker has been lost to the wild ravages ol the urban landscape through lack oi iorethought. There will be no shops or pubs open on your travels, so iood and alcohol are your iirst concerns. Make sure the lood is substantial, solid and thoroughly decadent. Light lood such as souiiles


i will only cause problems, as will any

i concoction including cream. A brace oi l Christmas Pudding slices slapped

; together with a Stilton iilling will

i suiiice.

While a slug oi the Hard Stuii will be appreciated when you reach the turning point oi your walk (don’t go too tar as you will have to walk home: there will be no public transport), something less potent is recommended as well. Topping up a nearly empty tonic bottle with gin is always a good standby, although the aunt’s port will go well Belore leaving, check that you have: an apple, lags, satsumas, one at the siblings’ personal stereos and a Nirvana tape. Finally, stash your paper hat by the door. liyou replace it on your return, no one will even notice you’ve been away. (Thom Dibdin)

WHERE TO GO Although Arthur's Seat and the woods

at Pollok Country Park provide good

walking, custom dictates that the Christmas Walk should be taken near

water. Access to both walks can be gained lrom practically any bridge they pass under without having recourse to abselling equipment.

Glasgow: The Kelvin Walkway.

A maintained path runs up the river Kelvin lrom Eldon Street by Kelvingrove Park, underthe Great Western Road, through the wooded valley by Queen Margaret Drive near the Botanic Gardens, past Kelvindale Road, under the Forth and Clyde Canal and on to Dawsholme Park. Edinburgh: The Water at Leith

From Leith Docks (excellent meandering) a well signposted path winds along the Water all the way through Bonnington, past Canonmills and Stockbridge, through the Dean Valley to Boseburn, pastthe Gallery at Modern Art and Murrayiield, past Slatelord, into Colinton Dell and on to Balerno.


Domestic blitz

History makes no mention oi whether Lizzie Borden hacked her parents to death because she didn't get the Barbie lashlon model set tor Christmas, but surely no jury would have convicted had she brought up the seasonal excuse. For, lorget the goodwill to all men spiel, Yuletide ls deilnltely the time at no-holds-barred generation wariare, with weapons drawn at midnight mass and resentments nurtured well beyond the Boxing Day cold turkey.

Long alter they

stop worrying about their virginity and casting themselves as the misunderstood Jimmy Dean at a modem-day drama, most people llnd that their parents are still ‘going through a phase’. Christmas really brings this home. Even it you have a good job and neat clothes, even it you go home wreathed in smiles and laden with presents, you can bet there'll still be tears come turkey-time. Only the ioolhardy will be going home without drawing up a Christmas Domestic Policy this year.

It's not Christmas without a good punch-up

Essential to a CDP is the realisation that there are many ditierent kinds of argument. My mother, tor example, argues laterally: whatever your topic oi conversation —irom sage stuiilng to sex beiore marriage once cornered, she strikes out with a stinging non sequltur, slips lllogically onto another subject and leaves her opponent so coniounded that he or she soon concedes deieat. I've lound that a good line oi delence is to stick to sale subjects: the Royal Family is a good one, particularly Fergle’s weight or Princess Margaret’s unhappy marriage/alcohol problem/taste in men.

Fathers are easier still: many

oi them simply rely on their position in the iamlly to squash an argument and immediately suspect mutiny it you

disagree with them. So don’t. The

worst kind oi parent is the one who resorts to whimpering where-did-we- go-wrong re-appraisals at your childhood. Parents like these are best lelt parked in iront oi the telly watching Terry and June. Don‘t give them

i alcohol ior Christmas it you want to

avoid maudlin scenes oi degeneracy.

it you do manage to get through Christmas, Hogmanay should prove latal. This is the time when relations, capitalising on what they know to be a tense atmosphere, decide to pay an annual visit. Our local aunt and uncle always come armed with three weapons: a tomato plant that has been thriving in theirvegetable garden, where my iather’s have tailed, anecdotes about their latest exotic holiday to depress my mother and photographs at their grandchildren (my sister and I have yet to produce). Their visit lasts no longerthan about an hour and a hall. It’s still long enough to decimate the enemy. The only way to beat this, the most deadly oi oiiensives, is to play along with it: coo overthe baby, gasp at the holiday anecdotes and exclaim over the success at the tomato plant. Then otter to make everyone tea. Your aunt and uncle are guaranteed to leave in a murderous irame oi mind, while diplomatic relations will instantly be restored at home. Victory, oi a sort, will be yours. (Miranda France)

(The bastard's guide to Christmas) Season ofgoodwill‘.’ Bollocks. It‘s a

j going to survive the festive season

you’ve gotta get tough. None ofthis 3 yo-ho-hoing, carol singing

f namby-pamby nonsense for us. This

Bah humbug

warzone out there. and ifyou‘re

3 seasonal lark calls for military-ster planning and devious cunning. Best i

make a timetable:

December 23 Pressies. Let‘s see. ! there’s Uncle Dave whose been

struggling manfully with his l

| alcoholism and bronchitis all year. A l bottleof Bells and 4(lEmbassy should see him right. Auntie Bessic‘sl been keeping quiet about that bowel 3 ; disorder so snap up that bumper box j

ofcolostomy bag refills and the

rubbersheet.YoursisterBeryl'son '

a diet so a six-pound box of Lardy i Chocs seems appropriate. That just

. leavesthe k1ds.Where dotheystock '

those dangerous toys Lynn

I Faulds-Wood was going on abouton

Watchdog? December24 Mmm. that 12-year-old malt you found under the tree with a a

tag saying ‘Grandad‘ on it goes down § : a treat. Just the thing while you‘re watchingthe‘Danish Hardcore‘ g

video you bought for little Jimmy (well. the lads nine now, time to put E away childish things). Everyone else j has buggered off to Midnight Mass. : Hope they enjoy the "l‘welve All-Time Orangcmen Anthems' you 5 bribed the organist to play. December25 Oh. dear. you seem to

5 be a tad unpopular. Maybe it wasn‘t : such a good idea to get Noel l Edmonds to broadcast his ‘Gotcha

f Squad‘ Christmas special live from 5

Auntie Bessie‘s bedroom. although f she did seem pleased when she i opened the colostomy bag pressie. Still the pubs are open. which is useful because that Mandate

f aftershave you've been drinking

doesn‘t quite hit the spot.

'I'hat ninth pint might have been a mistake. but be fair. throwing up over Grandad could have been worse. The old git might have been awake. Actually that‘s an idea for a

good game later in the afternoon.

Plug his hearing aid jack into the CD player. shove on Guns ‘n‘ Roses and see who can score a heart attack. Halfpoints for a minor stroke. If this ; doesn‘t work. feed him sago and : ground nuts, turn up the TV volume ; for The Great Escape and tell him the war‘s still on. Wind up little Jimmy‘s Bart Simpson siren gun and . watch old Grandad leg it for the coal bunkeL December 26 Boxing Day, otherwise known as ‘Finishing the last cans of ' lager. watching racing from Kempton Park and stealing all the l hazelnut caramels from the Quality l Street tin Day‘.

Well. it’s only once a year isn‘t it‘.’J

22 The List 20 December 1991— 16 January 1992