The cliched Christmas of bitter hardship old people never actually had

OLD folk love to remind everyone of the grim Christmases of their childhood which they stoically endured without complaining. But could these memories be lies?

Walking six miles to school

You can’t help being sceptical. Six miles is a hike, especially for a five-year-old battling though snow, hail and sleet. By the time you got there you’d be too exhausted to learn anything so you’d learn nothing, which might explain why the old voted Brexit.

Presents were shit

Boys got a wooden spinning top. Girls got a hair brush. Both would also receive a small bag of aniseed balls. Needless to say, they were grateful for this festive kick in the teeth. But did it happen or have the credulous seen it on TV? Skim back through the Radio Times and there’s the smoking gun: 23rd December, A Victorian Christmas with TV historian Ruth Goodman.

They just put on an extra jumper

The over-60s will not f**king shut up about this. But as anyone who’s turned off the heating this winter knows, conserving body heat with extra layers is no substitute for a warm room. In the fantasy world of old people, Captain Oates would have been fine if he’d just put on a woollen sweater before leaving the tent.

They’d never seen an orange before

Assuming the old person was born anytime after 1930 you can call bullshit, as they were fairly common in the UK by the 18th century. Nell Gwynn seduced King Charles II by wedging one in her cleavage. This can only be true if they’re 300 years old.

They got up at 6am to make the fire

Were families entrusting four-year-olds with matches, kindling and newspaper? Any probing as to possible fire risks will be parried by tales about bathing on Christmas Eve in a tin bath in front of said fire, after parents and nine siblings went first. This did not happen in the 1950s even in Wolverhampton.

There were icicles indoors

Wouldn’t happen in any inhabited home further south than Siberia. Not that it matters, it’s just a prelude to ‘We didn’t have central heating in them days’, as though subsequent generations are spoilt weaklings for not growing up in the Gulag.

A total cock and bull story

Lying becomes a habit with dopamine rewards. So when your gran claims a schoolmate was dragged off to the woods and eaten by wolves, tell her firmly it did not happen. You’ll go to a library and check six years of the Spalding Guardian on microfiche if you have to.

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Seven great Christmas presents for £0.00 from your neighbour's garden

WATCHING the pennies this Christmas? Here are some wonderful gifts you can get completely free by sneaking into your neighbour’s garden at 1am.

Solar fairies

Have you got young daughters? Pop on your gift-gathering balaclava and pick up some solar fairy ornaments from next door. Endless imaginative adventures await their new play figures in Fairyland. Sure, they come on a large lump of heavy resin, but little girls are always fighting with their brothers, and these have really got some heft.

A mower

The ideal gift for a husband, or a dad’s gift to himself. If, having broken into your neighbour’s shed with a crowbar, he’s only got a knackered old petrol mower, not a modern chargeable one that looks like the Battlestar Galactica, help yourself to his tools instead.


Women love being given a big bunch of roses. The only difference is these are waiting to grow on the rose bush you dug up next door. Yes, it needs replanting and nurturing by your partner, but think of it as a giant outdoor bonsai kit.

An inflatable snowman

Makes a great kickboxing toy for the kids, or give it to the whole family as a fun Christmas ornament. The only problem is disguising the fact that it’s identical to the one your neighbour had stolen from his front garden last night. Paint it green and claim it’s Shrek.

Sexy underwear

A neighbour might still put out underwear to dry if it’s sunny, and what wife or girlfriend wouldn’t be delighted with second hand knickers? Give it a miss if your neighbour is larger than your partner or they’ll think you’re trying to tell them something. And be extra careful not to get caught – being put on the sex offenders register isn’t very festive.

Mega-giant mobile

Make your little ones the envy of their friends with an enormous ‘mobile’ in their bedroom. Just half-inch your neighbours’ rotary dryer, stick some shit on it like pictures of the moon and flying unicorns printed off the internet, and give it a spin as they’re drifting off to sleep. When they grow out of mobiles, you can dry clothes on it.

A pet koi carp

This does hinge on having quite well-off neighbours with a koi pond. Be prepared to root around as the devious fishy bastards hibernate at the bottom in winter. Koi are obviously a lot bigger and more impressive than a goldfish, so you’ll need a very big tank. If you don’t want the expense of that, try fish for Christmas dinner instead of boring old turkey.