Archives for category: British Culture

23adTP - turkeyThe Advent Panda

23rd Dec 2015: Collecting the Turkey… ‘Gobble Gobble’!

A long time ago in a country far far away….
….before farm fresh
….before additive free
….before carbon footprints
….before ORGANIC….

We used to just toddle up to Tesco for a frozen turkey, cram it into our already bulging freezer and hope to the stars that we remember to take it out early enough for it to defrost in time for Christmas dinner. I’m sure many a family ate at 9pm having not anticipated the thawing time for their plump, now featherless friend.

Now, we set out on Christmas Eve to the local farm (that on other weekends doubtless holds a farmers’ market) to collect our completely fresh, carefully reared and very recently expired turkey in its own carry carton with roasting instructions and even a handy cooking thermometer!

We wait patiently in a queue surrounded by talkative types in designer wellies, while farm hands in santa hats try to keep us entertained with mulled wine and hot slices of their best home-cooked sausages on wooden sticks.

Mock if you will, but it beats being stuck in a supermarket till queue pondering whether to throw a packet of Polos or Juicy Fruit into your basket!



London snowmanThe Advent Panda

22nd Dec 2015: Still dreaming of a White Christmas?

Christmas snow is rare in the South East of England, despite what tradition and fiction would have us believe. The chances of you getting out there and building a snowman before tucking into your Turkey is pretty slim.

I think for the UK gamblers, the payout is dependent on a single flake of snow falling on the roof of the Met Offices in London during the 25th of December. I’m not quite sure how that works? I know they’ve got lots of equipment up there but I’m sure it doesn’t cover the WHOLE roof. I have a picture in my head of several hardy chaps in scarves and bobble hats sitting equidistantly from each other on the roof and keeping vigil for 24 hours whilst passing round large flasks of coffee. It may not snow, but its bound to be pretty chilly up there!

What are the qualifications for a professional snow spotter and what do they do for the rest of year?

I suppose it’s just another of those great Christmas mysteries…


20adTP - blottoThe Advent Panda

20th Dec 2015: Board Games or Blotto

I have a theory that on Christmas Day, families tend to fall somewhere on a spectrum which has the following extremes:

At one end are ‘the Revellers’ – the day ends with boisterous board games, fits of laughter and potentially dancing round the christmas tree to Roy Wood & Wizzard with an elderly relative.

At the other end there are the ‘Couch Hounds’ – By the evening, the kids are obsessing with their toys by the tree and the adults have collapsed, half dosing, with one eye on ‘Call the Midwife’ after several bottles of wine and large post-dinner brandies. No one’s going to make it to the table for a 4 hour game of Monopoly here folks!

I’ve had happy experiences of both. What end of the scale are you heading for this year?


14adTP - doctor & river

The Advent Panda

14th Dec 2015: It’s Christmas Time (Lord).

Since it returned to our screens in 2005, Christmas TV in the UK is now gloriously and unshakeably wedded to the Doctor Who Christmas Special.

Peter Capaldi has his second seasonal outing and having lost his faithful companion Clara, he could really do with having his wishes fulfilled by Santa. Unfortunately, that already happened last year, accompanied by the appropriate amount of running up and down corridors.

This time round, he will have to be comforted by his wife (yes wife!) River Song, played artfully as ever by Alex Kingston.

The BBC’s not giving much away, but I expect we won’t get too far into the episode before gruff Doctor 12 is River’s ’sweetie’ once again.

Anything else would be ’spoilers’!


Christmas jumpers by Russ McClintock

The Advent Panda

13th Dec 2015: We’ve got a Jumper!

You will get one.

It will not be your style or brand.
It will be at least one size too small.
Its colour will not match your eyes.
Its ‘bold’ design may stop traffic.
It will doubtless roll up over your tummy after you have stuffed yourself with Christmas dinner.
There will be photographic evidence (probably on Facebook).

A tip: If you are cooking the turkey on the 25th, put the jumper on early and do not wear an apron. There is no way to avoid the stigma of wearing it on Christmas day, but if you can splash enough Turkey juices over it – it may be so festively damaged that further humiliation is prevented.


10adTP - radio times

The Advent Panda

10th Dec 2015: Where IS that Radio Times?

Yes that bumper Christmas issue with two weeks of tv and radio crammed into one magazine. You’d think that in the age of DVR planners and catch-up tv, things have changed. However, I bet many an average household still fights over it and over who is going to circle and highlight the holiday season’s viewing.

It always amazes me that it actually survives the fortnight, although admittedly by the end, its normally coverless, dog-ended and laced with brandy butter grease stains!

The joy of opening a newly bought copy is equalled only by the sadness of reaching the last day’s tv page and knowing that you are returning to work or school imminently.


09adTP - cards

The Advent Panda – 9th Dec 2015:

Christmas Card Crisis.

The Christmas card has suffered an identity crisis in recent years. It doesn’t really know what it is anymore and given we are in the age of constant (literally constant!) communication, this is not surprising.

In the days when you spoke to your distant friends and family rarely via airmail letters and perhaps annual expensive phone calls, the Christmas card had a defined role as a key way of providing at least an annual touch point to express friendship. love and give an update (if only brief) on how life was going.

However, now that we know what even our most distant and tenuous friends had for breakfast this morning via the joy of WhatsApp – it sometimes seems rather pointless sending an environmentally unfriendly piece of cardboard through a labour intensive mail service to share a glittery picture of Santa and a handful of handwritten words.

E-cards present us with a half-way house, but after enduring the painful digital animation of the first couple you receive, it’s not surprising if we just cut to the chase and read the greeting at the end.

Perhaps, once we have managed to unburden ourselves of habit, we will realise that a 5 minute free Skype or FaceTime conversation to share our Christmas love will trump a card anytime!


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