Sunday, 19 January 2014

No Neknominate

A new year and already more crazes I'm not quite ready to buy into. As someone who has been rather slow and reluctant to immerse myself in the huge variety of different social network mediums available, I'm dubious about what I'm willing to sign on to. I keep getting invites to link up with people on things like Google+ but as I'm already just about on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as managing two blogs and e-mail accounts, there's only a finite amount of on-line time I can manage per day if I want to actually have a life in the “real” world.

Once a reluctant mobile phone user, I'll begrudgingly admit having a Smartphone to check e-mails on the go is now hugely useful. I'm still, however, less sure about all these on-line fads, having recently read about the current “Property Porn” trend and even more mystifying “Neknominate”. With the ever-growing popularity of shows like Grand Designs, I can almost understand “Property Porn” browsing but “Neknominate” seems to be reviving scenes from films like Porky's and Animal House.

Originating in Australia “Neknominate” dares drinkers to find new ways of necking booze to then post evidence on-line before nominating a buddy to attempt to neck their drink in an equally inventive way. Facebook pages state the rules: “Neck your drink. Nominate another. Don’t break the chain, don’t be a d**k...” Swiftly descending into my mid-thirties, I'm more likely to become addicted to “Property Porn” than partake in a “Neknominate” challenge, although my New Year's resolution might just involve avoiding either.

Friday, 3 January 2014

All-Change At Christmas


This Christmas Day tradition was broken as I woke up in my default bedroom at my parent's house, rather than at my Nan's where this year's celebrations were being held. Every year my family (cousins, aunts etc) all descend on one house to stay for the duration of the festive season from Christmas Eve until the day after Boxing Day. I can barely remember a time when Christmas was not spent this way.

Over the years there's been talk of how things will change when things like babies arrive but I've generally brushed this aside, preferring to dwell in my safety bubble of routine. One year, I was slightly perturbed to spend Christmas away from my family in a whole other country during my year on the road. I, of course, rationalised this as unavoidable, a one-off and something to relish regardless but still tried to keep myself part of family tradition, dressing up on Boxing Day in fancy dress attire according to the chosen theme as is now customary and e-mailing over images of costumes.

This year, the “young ones” (my generation – the cousins and sis) were all apparently otherwise engaged on Christmas Eve so it had been decided to meet-up at church on the morning of Christmas Day to then move on to my Nan's where we'd stay for the next two nights. In addition to by-passing our traditional Christmas Eve meal, stockings were being over-looked.

Every year, regardless of age, members of my family open stockings together after church before lunch is served. Back in the day when we were wee ones, this was of course done before church. This year it was not part of the line-up so my mum, dad, sister, boyfriend and I were to open stockings together before driving over for church.

Naturally things didn't go according to plan and the elements intercepted. On Christmas Eve my sister announced she was stuck in Hereford due to flooding disrupting the rail network so would be spending Christmas alone; as she broke this news, my dad was ringing my mum to say he too was stranded in a flood zone. We spent Christmas Eve pointlessly waiting for the RAC's extremely shoddy service to never arrive and reschedule twice more days later.

As a result of these unexpected occurrences, we were one man down for stocking opening and my dad and I went to church alone while the others continued to rethink car loading. In addition to this, my cousin who's still in Australia was absent and another cousin controversially chose to spend much of Christmas with her extremely unpopular ex-husband, resulting in numbers being thin on the ground.

All being said, there were still fourteen of us for much of Christmas and the Port, Snowballs and Pudding Wine freely flowed. Aside from the Queen's speech, the no TV rule was vigorously applied with games played instead. There are preposterous photographs of us dressed as German characters, multiple black sacks of wrapping paper to show and my already worrying pre-Christmas paunch has grown considerably. Things change but it is all about what you make of it as this shockingly bad Christmas cracker joke, that divided the table, perfectly illustrates: