Jingle bells my arse: The gammon food critic's family Christmas

Restaurant reviews by Justin Tanner, our retired food critic who’s seen Jesus and he was a white man

MY son’s invited me out for a Christmas dinner with the family. Mostly guilt; they’re having the ex round on the day itself, and the two of us can’t be in the same postcode. 

Suits me though. Christmas is shite. Half the pubs are shut and the telly’s full of kids’ films. I’ll be spending it as I always do: in the flat with a few slabs of Stella watching war movies and ordering Chinese.

The gastropub he’s chosen costs 60 a head and doesn’t comp food critics. I know, I’ve tried. Decked out with all that festive crap you don’t have to bother with when you live on your own: tinsel, fairy lights, a massive tree that should be outside for dogs to piss up.

And the music’s not helping. Mariah fucking Carey arpeggiating away like she’s having a stroke. ‘The food had better be top drawer to make up for all this bollocks,’ I remark to my son. He winces. Must have heartburn.

But one glance at the starters and I’m back in the 1970s. Melon balls? Smoked salmon? Foie gras. I’m surprised they’re not serving pints of Double Diamond and putting ashtrays on the table.

I opt for the great British classic – prawn cocktail with Marie Rose sauce, named after our heroic battleship that spanked the frogs’ arses before the bastards sank it in 1545.

‘They say Fanny Craddock invented this’ I tell my son and his wife, expecting a chuckle. Nothing. His wife glares at me. No sense of humour. He gets that from his mother.

And of course the only option for a main, apart from vegan shit, is ‘traditional roast turkey’. Traditional at Thanksgiving in bloody America maybe. Why don’t we have proper British meat at Christmas? There’s not a family in the land wouldn’t rather have pork.

Brussels sprouts? Why aren’t we calling them Birmingham sprouts now the EU can’t stop us, like when American had freedom fries?

There’s roast potatoes that as crispy as a hanky full of snot, just less salty. Honey-roast parsnips so sweet they should be eaten with cream. And don’t get me started on ‘garden peas’. Whose garden exactly?

There’s a British Christmas pudding, which they make a big show of pouring brandy over and lighting it. I ask for my brandy separately and down it in one. It’s a nice digestif after all the lager.

Meal over, I get up to leave before the bill arrives, wish them a very merry Christmas, and get out of there before anyone tries to make me sing Away In A Manger. I’m Christian, but I’m not foreign so I’m not loud about it.

That’s the festivities fucked off for another year. Now home for the Christmas you celebrate all year round: getting shitfaced.

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The Snowman: is it outdated and offensive and should be banned?

WATCHING The Snowman is an annual Christmas tradition for anyone with nothing better to do. But is the whimsical tale about a boy running away with a stranger problematic?

The nose scene doesn’t pay off

The Snowman is charming, melancholy, and fails the basics of plotting. If there’s a scene in the first act where the lead character fucks about in a kitchen trying on different noses, it needs to pay off in the third act. If the Snowman had used the pineapple nose to defuse a bomb in a thrilling climax it would have closed the narrative circle.

It doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test

Oh dear. Not only are there barely any female roles in it, none of them have any dialogue. Plus one of them isn’t even human. This makes The Snowman irredeemably patriarchal in the eyes of Guardian readers when it could have easily included a scene where two women discuss the gender theories of Judith Butler. They fly over Brighton, after all.

It’s not part of the MCU

You can’t make a film called The Snowman that isn’t about a misunderstood teen who gets ice powers after being crushed in an avalanche. Perhaps he turns to snow when temperatures drop, or controls flurries with his mind? Either way, it should have tied into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Why would anyone care about it otherwise?

Where’s the diversity?

The little boy and his family are white. The drunk man on the boat is white. The snowman is whiter than Tommy Robinson’s chosen name. How does Channel 4 dare broadcast such a uniformly caucasian film in this day and age? The Ofcom switchboard is probably exploding with complaints. The least they could do is film a new intro with Leon Sissay.

Walking in the Air

Raymond Briggs gifted humanity with a beautiful, haunting story. The animated version added a song that made a eunuch lastingly famous. If the world can’t have one without the other, it would be better if The Snowman never existed in any form to begin with.

The message is dodgy

What are children supposed to take away from The Snowman? That they should go on a motorbike joyride with a stranger then run away to a different country together? Kids copy everything they see on TV, which makes The Snowman a worse influence than listening to hip hop without parental supervision. Melt him with a blow-torch.