Gerry Farrell: Not all comfort and joy

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WHEN you’re my age it takes an effort to get excited about Christmas.

This year, the first festive-themed foodstuffs appeared on Tesco’s shelves in the first week of September.

The pre-Christmas commercial bombardment is so intense that the C-word is officially banned in my house until December 1. There are only three sleeps to go now and I still haven’t put the tree up. Although we did manage to get our company’s Christmas card, pictured, posted out to all our clients before the Royal Mail’s elves stop work (if you can guess how we shoehorned ourselves into the Nativity scene, I’ll send you one of my unwanted Christmas presents).

For all the perfect, candle-lit Christmas living rooms posted on Facebook with immaculate trees and home-made wreaths, it’s the Christmas disasters I remember best. One Christmas Eve, I arrived home late evening. Unusually my oldest boy aged ten was waiting for me on the front step. His face was as white as a sheet and he looked terrified. “What’s wrong?” I said, my tummy knotting up like an octopus’s knitting. “Come and see,” he said. In the hall, my feet splashed through half an inch of water. A little stream was still trickling down the stairs. “I left the bath taps on,” he said, his bottom lip quivering. “Thank God!” I said, “I thought somebody had died.” I gave him a big hug. Most of the water had come through the living room ceiling right on top of the Christmas tree. The lights had shorted and all the parcels underneath were soggy. We had dehumidifiers going in most of the rooms by midnight. In the morning, they had sucked all the water out of the carpets, the ceiling, the toilets and us – we were so dried out we couldn’t even pee!

Another Christmas Eve we were all at my mum and dad’s house. The kids were asleep and we were having a glass of wine and watching a weepie called Terms Of Endearment.

In the movie, the baby gets the croup on Christmas Eve and starts wheezing and bawling. The mother takes her into the bathroom and turns the shower on “maximum”. The bathroom fills up with steam and soothes the baby’s itchy lungs. We thought it was the movie baby wailing at first then dad switched off the sound. It was our daughter. She was in her cot red-faced and wheezing. She had the croup. Talk about life imitating art. Naturally we took her into the bathroom and turned the shower up to the max. It didn’t work. My wife at the time started shouting at me. Then she shouted at my mum and dad. Finally she wrapped the baby up, took her to the car and drove off, leaving me to make the peace with my folks.

My worst Christmas escapade was when I was fourteen. It was the day of the church youth club Christmas disco. I had a new girlfriend. I planned to impress her by bringing along a lot of alcohol. I filled one of those old brown medicine bottles with a little bit of every kind of liquor in my dad’s booze cabinet. I drank most of it on the way to the disco and downed two bottle of Carlsberg Special and some cider for good measure. I felt invincible. My new girl was less impressed. Especially when I began crawling round the floor on all fours throwing up on plastic chairs, thinking “One of these things must be a toilet.” I was driven home in disgrace by the parish priest. On that note, I wish you all a happy Christmas – I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

Kincardine was a bridge too far

If you listened to all the blame-stormers and doom-mongers, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Forth Bridge closure was the equivalent of the Tay Bridge Disaster.

Journalists couldnae wait to point the finger at Nicola Sturgeon. “It may never open again,” thundered one. So calm doon. Gas. On. A. Peep. And farewell Kincardine Bridge, I hope I never see you again.

Gerry’s special Christmas wishes

At Christmas, you get presents if you’ve been good and something a lot nastier if you’ve been bad. Here are my Naughty and Nice lists.


George Lucas: The Force is not with you. Apart from its excellent John Williams score, the new Star Wars movie is a shocker. George, you deserve a light sabre where the sun don’t shine.

George Osborne: Iceland let its banks go bust, jailed its bankers for 74 years and will give every Icelander £1000 compensation. Osborne billed the taxpayer £20 billion for the bank bailout and stripped Fred Goodwin of his Knighthood. Since I particularly hate your hair, George, I wish you baldness.

Donald Trump: Every time The Man With The Golden Guinea-Pig Instead Of Hair opens his mouth, a foul odour comes out. I would give him a good pull-through with a Christmas tree.

Mark Warburton: You must be the most humourless manager on the planet. Can’t you see the funny side of squandering an 11-point lead? My wish for you is a humping from the Hibees on December 28.


Alan Stubbs: Hard to believe, but in one season, you’ve actually given Hibs a shot at the treble. I hope Santa brings you Anthony Stokes and Scott Allan.

Mhairi Black: You made the best maiden speech in the House of Commons and got a first-class Honours degree all in the same week. I’ll give you a megaphone so you can keep up the good work.

Andy Murray: For electrifying us, supporting Hibs and never sucking up to the media, I give you a year off with your new baby when it comes.

David Attenborough: You are the god of broadcasting, still happy to stand in a dark cave with bat crap falling on your head while the rest of us are scared of spiders. I wish you another cuddle from that gorilla that hugged you once before.