At our office Christmas lunch today, one of my co-workers asked me what a Christmas cracker was. I was surprised that she didn’t know, but then more surprised at myself for assuming that everyone would know what a Christmas cracker is, especially as my co-worker is Indian and if Christmas crackers were a Victorian invention, there’s no reason to assume they’d ship them to the sub continent. Maybe the Victorians figured they’d hold onto the crackers and just send IPA.
Then I tried to explain what Christmas crackers are, and that got even stranger. You have a cardboard tube with some gunpowder inside it, and then two of you pull on it and the gunpowder goes bang, and then one of you gets a silly hat, a rubbish joke and a small toy, which is invariably either a set of tiny screwdrivers, a keyring, a whistle, a spinning top or a tape measure.
I realised I was describing something akin to a festive pipebomb, not 24 hours after somebody detonated something in New York (thankfully not killing anyone). I suppose that’s no *more* offensive than celebrating on November 5th by burning Roman Catholics in effigy on a large fire.
Even though I’d had a festive pint of Guinness, I knew that proceeding too far down this conversational path wouldn’t really be for the best. I started talking about Shake Em Buns, the Hong Kong burger joint where every burger was named after a sexual position (we were having Christmas lunch in a burger restaurant which itself had a big sign proclaiming "Shake Em Buns" so this wasn’t entirely the product of my addled brain) but I realised that was also a path I shouldn’t explore. Maybe I should have told them about the time I almost crashed a company car with four execs in it while I was making a "wanker" gesture? No, that wouldn’t do either.
Anyway, I kept shtum about all things Christmassy after that (except mince pies and the bemusing fact that they don’t have minced meat in them) and concentrated on my very Christmassy grilled cheese sandwich. This is a strange life that I lead.