December 5, 2011

Do you like this?

A friend phoned me up the other day – a friend from England. A really good friend, from way back when, but we hardly see or speak to each other nowadays.

“Can you give me your postal address?” she asked.

“Oh, yeah, sure. But why?”

“Dur,” she said. “So I can send you a Christmas card, of course.”

“Oh,” I said, “don't bother.”

“What do you mean, Jacinta?” she asked, her voice hard.

“Well, they don't do it in Germany. So I'll just throw it in the bin anyway. So really you're just wasting the price of a stamp and a tiny bit of the world's remaining rainforest. Just don't bother. Let's just pretend you did.”

There was silence for a while.

“Fucking hell, Jacinta. If anyone else said that, I'd be totally offended. It's a good thing I know what you're like.”

“I'm just trying to save you money,” I said.

“Hmmmn,” she said. “So, let me tell you about my new fella.”

There are some things that the Germans do that are SO FUCKING WEIRD you never get used to them. Ever.


But there are some mad things British people do that are SO FUCKING WEIRD that after being in this country for, say, seven months, you can't remember ever having found them normal.

Here's a scientific list. Pay attention Amok-fans:

Christmas cards

I am sorry but what a load of fucking bullshit. You don't speak to someone for years and years and years and years of your life, you don't even know what their current “partner” and three youngest children look like, you never speak to them, you never see them, you never call them up, you never have coffee with them, you don't know them, they are essentially strangers whose names you vaguely recall, and then every year, without fail, you send them a Christmas card.

The weird thing is you don't even write any news or information or secrets or anything worth reading in the card AT ALL. You just write “Dear Jane, Graham and kids,” at the top and “Love from Sue and Donald!” at the bottom.

It is the most meaningless tradition in the history of meaningless traditions. It is so meaningless it makes that Lantern Festival seem really worth doing. Then other strangers whose names you vaguely recall send you cards.

You put these cards on the mantelpiece, and wait until Christmas is over before throwing them away. Sometimes you get a load of string and hang a load of them on the wall above the mantelpiece. God, British people are barmy. They're bonkers. They're fucking insane.

“Oh, shit,” said my mother one year.

“What's the matter, Mum?”

“Chris and Trudie from Swansea have sent a card again. They didn't send us one last year, so I thought I'd give them a miss this year. Have we got any of those Save the Children ones left? I hope I make the post.”

Bat-shit insane, the whole fucking country.


Aren't they mad? Adults sitting around the table, eating turkey, with a load of paper crowns on their heads. Still, I am looking forward to it, a little bit.

The jokes are the best bit. The cheaper the cracker, the more rubbish the joke I always find, although I must admit that the one year my mum did buy really expensive, “luxury” crackers from Marks & Spencer, one of the jokes was so crap that she went back to the shop to complain. I think it was something to do with a sturgeon.


Every time I go home, I step onto the plane, and I think to myself: “When we arrive in Stansted, there'll be all these people wearing cardigans instead of proper coats, don't be shocked, Jacinta. They're just made of sterner stuff than the Krauts, or maybe coats are more expensive, or maybe the weather's a tad milder. Don't be shocked, Jacinta. Don't be shocked by the cardigans.”

But when I get home, I always am. I look around at all these kids – and adults, grown adults – wandering round, outside and everything, with cardigans on, in the middle of winter. They're not fucking coats. Put a fucking coat on, you mad bastards.

I can't wait to go home, though. I only booked my ticket last week. I never feel as homesick as I do that first minute after I've booked my ticket home. Suddenly I feel all “abroad” again. I can't wait to see them all, all those mad psychos who make up my home country. And I can't wait to see all those even madder psychos who make up my family most of all.

I'm not gonna eat any mince pies, though. I really fucking hate those things.


December 5, 2011

Comments (8)

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Sounds like a straightjacket (is that how you spell it or is it straitjacket - either could be correct as these things are both straight and narrow). Anyway if you feel you need to buy one, you just treat yourself. NHS are probably selling them off cheap together with all mental health facilities.

amok's old teacher more than 2 years ago

Not really cardigans

I didn't really mean cardies, Miss, I meant like a zip-up made out of sweatshirt material but the German word is Strickjacke which is the same as the word for a cardy and I wrote Strickjacke because I've been here so long I don't even know what the English word is but it got changed back to cardigan due to all you thickoes what can't speak Krautspeak, like.

Am coming back on the 23rd. Not long now. Gotta buy myself a Strickjacke first and then I'll be ready to get on the plane. Really looking forward to it, actually. You wanna meet up, Miss? I'll be at my mum's.

Jacinta Again more than 2 years ago

Christmas greetings

Jacinta, you must have been going to the posher parts of the U.K. as cardigans are certainly not worn in East London. I am the only person in Ilford wearing a coat and a scarf - everybody is either in a T-shirt or a vest - it's like Spain in August, even though the wind is straight from Siberia. Judging from the state of these people they are not training for the 2012 Olympics. The policeman who came to ask me if I had witnessed a burglary at the house opposite was only wearing a short sleeved shirt and it was freezing. I think it's a macho thing though Essex girls are still in short shorts.
I will send you an ecard so you can delete it and keep your mantlepiece for important stuff, just remember to bring your vest and shorts to Stansted - oh and the fake tan.

Amok's old teacher more than 2 years ago

Mince pies...

Why doesn't anyone like them? Only last week I got the good ol' airport-issue Walkers Luxury Fruit Mince Tarts for the Germans I used to work with - Jesus, had to literally chase them with that stuff. It's not like it's sheep entrails or something...

Mike more than 2 years ago

I've never watched the Queen's Speech in my life

coming from a family of old Commies, as I do. Maybe I'll have to watch it this year, though. Just to take the edge off of my turkey-based Cold Turkey, seeing as I am now a fully fledged vegetarian.

Yassinta more than 2 years ago

Have to agree

Sounds all very familar to say the least ! And I stop a very long time ago maybe am sad bastard but to hear my ma count all the cards she got which goes into the hundreds really ! Drives me mad. And the pretend for a day that everything is okay ! When its not. ! Yeah your right the English are twats ! And so is the Northern Irish cause they have the gall to stop a sensless war just because they want to go home and count their christmas cards as well. Ha ! The thing I really fucking hate about Christmas is the Fucking Queen's speach and then after some fucking shity fucking Movie that been shown time after time again,and again.. I'd rather be alone and then I can think about what it means to have traveled a whole year. And what I've learned. And what I won't do again. But when one has child then " That's a horse of different favor movie at Christmas " Wizard Of Oz.

Stephen Hannah more than 2 years ago

totally agree with you

no turkey for you though this year Miss!

more than 2 years ago


Fuck shit bastard fucking bullshit fuck crap.
That's your writing, that is.
Why not just do away with the non-expletives and save us all the bother of attempting to find the article in amongst all the swearwords?

ella more than 2 years ago

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