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– Will Self –

Urals. Early the following year Russian tanks would roll into Poland. Frankly, I wouldn’t have minded if they’d invaded my room – for there was no solidarity to speak of. I eschewed the overtures of my housemates and packed them off to their families: Sarah with her dyed vermilion hair and spiky earrings; Polly with her silk dressing-gown and her lapsang souchong; Imogen with her leather jacket and her growling BSA motorbike.

When they were all gone, I went to the local shop and bought the most antithetical Christmas dinner I could think of; no buxom brown fowl for me, oh no, this not-so Tiny Tim would slurp down a Vesta chicken curry, his only company the rattling ghosts of Christmas past. Because the truth was that Christmas had never been that great in my family of origin. To paraphrase Tolstoy, all unhappy families may be different, but there’s something about festivals, celebrations and anniversaries that makes them behave in the same way: badly. The last Christmas we had spent in my natal home, two years before, had been distinguished by my brother and I having a stand-up fist fight in the street, smiting one another until we fell into the privet – a small suburban nightmare.

No, I would spend Christmas, and the nights that book-ended it, alone, in bed. There would be no decorations, nor carolling, no wassailing, no submistletoe canoodling, no stuffing, no adoring of the Christ Child, no saturnalia, no potlatch. All I’d do was

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