The overhead light goes on at 5:30: I say "What?" and Jasper replies that he wants to know what the time is (there is a wall-clock in Sara’s workroom, where I am sleeping). I tell him firmly to turn off the light, and he says "It’s alright, I know what the time is now" and turns it off again (not, you notice, "Oops, sorry"). I find it difficult to get back to sleep, what with the small boys running up and down the stairs trying not to make any noise.
Consequently I allow myself a lie in until 8:45.
Downstairs, The Boys are enthusiastically attacking the spoils. Turning from the strategy of our youth (when all presents had to be saved up until after Christmas lunch, washing up, digestion and all) the presents are opened in a continuous, controlled stream until they run out. Far more civilised.
I suggest that a way of making the presents eke out further might be to make the recipient write a thank-you letter before they can open the next. They’d last until easter that way. So present opening continues either side of lunch, for which our mother arrives.
As predicted (not by me, but by my sister, who is, admittedly, responsible for Present Acquisition), Christmas this year comes courtesy of JK Rowling. The Boys have Harry Potter Lego, Dressing gowns (it’s amazing how an apparantly dowdy dressing gown can be converted into a dead exciting Harry Potter™ Robe by the simple addition of a Hogwarts crest. I wonder what Ms Rowling could do for slippers or support hose). Improvising a Sorting Hat, The Boys discover that they are in Gryffindore House, which surprises nobody.
But then, I’m Slytherin and proud of it.
I say that perhaps The Boys should write a thank-you letter to Ms Rowling. My sister suggests that perhaps she whould be writing one to them. Which is a point, I suppose.
My own booty includes:
Anton Webern, Various
Giacomo Carissimi, Mass for Three Voicee & Motets
Thomas Tallis, Spem in alium & Lamentations of Jeremiah
The Simpsons series one
Willy Russell, The Wrong Boy
Will Self, How the Dead Live
The Webern is from Oscar and the Carissimi from Jasper, which suggests either (a) a precocious understanding of modern and early music or, more likely, (b) that Sara did their present shopping too. On Saturday afternoon, when I was shopping for presents and Dan (my brother-in-law) also was, apparantly she was on the phone to both of us alternately all afternoon, fielding advice about gift-buying.
Tonight’s Celebrity Christmas Special is Fort Boyard, a curious combination of The Crystal Maze and The Count of Monte Cristo which somehow manages to put ormer page 3 girl Melinda Messenger in lycra and make her more wholesome than Joyce Grenfell, with Leslie Grantham acting the villain in such a way that he appears not just unthreatening but positively cuddly. I recognise none of the celebrities, but one of them (a Keith) i also failed to recognise on Celebrity Weakest Link.
The evening presents us with a documentary about Eric Sykes, which was actually a very nice surprise. British television could do with more Eric Sykes at the moment. And then the Long Awaited New Episode of Only Fools and Horses, which suggested that the barrel has been scraped right through and the BBC are now digging furiously.
This is followed by Before They Were Famous, which increasingly demonstrates that not only do I recognise most of the participants then, I don’t even know who they are now. Amanda Holden? Tamzin Outhwaite?
I’m turning into a High Court Judge ("The Beatles, M’Lud, are a popular singing group").
And then to round the evening off, the British Romantic Comedy (and all three qualifiers are necessary) Sliding Doors. The main attraction of the film is that it offers endless opportunities for the popular parlour game "You Can’t Go There From There!" where the players watch a British film or television programme and identify how geography has been mangled in the editing process. Also, the game "How Can She Afford To Live there?" (always popular).
One thing about the film is the amount of effort that Gwyneth Paltrow must have put in to playing a perfectly dull PR girl (her accent was better than Renée Zellweger’s in Bridget Jones, but her character far less interesting). If you are going to work that hard, you really need to be playing Lady Macbeth.
And if Richard Curtis is the Beatles of BritRomCom, then the person who wrote Siding Doors is its Freddy and the Dreamers.
Luckily for Ms Paltrow and BritRomCom, Shakespeare in Love, is an immeasurably superior film (scripted by Tom Stoppard, who, on the same scale, must be Elvis Presley, or possibly Frank Sinatra).