Happy Christmas I Love You Baby

It truly is no place for the old. Grandparents tut tut at over indulged children; hungover parents stumble a bed having assembled a surfeit of toys and are awakened a couple of hours later by agog kids wide awake and wanting to know has Santa been yet.

Was it ever thus. Christmas isn’t wasted on the children or the young reveller. Once as a student I managed to get myself out 17 nights in a row. Later I remember spending a New Years eve in the American Bar at the docks in Belfast and looking forward to the next day and peace and wishing it was all bloody over.

Of course all of that had nothing to do with Christmas. We used to gather in MJ’s bar in Omagh. My best mate Brogy would display the results of his shopping for all to laugh at. Once he produced a melon baller he’d bought for his brother and his wife. His dad Liam was getting a kitchen roll holder. No doubt Liam did enjoy the thought -certainly we all did.

The alcohol infused evening would lead into night. Once after a festive bout in the Hogshead in Omagh we ended up at midnight Mass, blue bags a-clinking, us a-giggling and others a-disapproving.

Sometimes Christmas would go pear shaped, not tits up mind you. It’s not a season I associate with the females of the world – most Christmas liaisons conducted through a fugue of forgetfulfutility maybe a bit of mistletoe. That was then…. Besides, ’twas usually too cold and both parties had too many clothes for any real Christmas crackers!

Once on a class reunion in McElroys front bar Decky Coyle and myself demolished significant amounts of Bushmills and finished the job with half uns of Lagavulin Single Malt. Coyle puked. I didn’t. We spent the night at David McCormack’s house – wasn’t good. The next day I had one of the first of monster hangovers. It wasn’t really a hangover at all- that followed days later. At this stage you understand I was still full as a gypsy’s tit. The day after was horrendous. My life force felt replaced with ennui, nausea and cement. Aches and pains, gut in contortion and the agony of something simple but essential like light. I dunno how Shane McGowan does it.

We would go out on Boxing Night for more beer. Some may have ventured on Christmas night, I once caught on a girl who was allegedly going out with me out with another fella on Christmas Night. Boxing day though anything went. Hit the dancefloor and you would take some doll’s fancy or vice versa. Next morning the memories in your part may be hedgy enough but she would know she’d koorted a Christmas drunk.

During the run up to Christmas as a student was different in many ways, the old classic get your coat worked a treat up round Queen’s. Desperados one and all.

But the real craic at Christmas was in Omagh where we would persuade one another out 17 nights if we could. The craic was ninety, Decky Coyle would appear from Strabane, men would agree just one more night and the craic would follow.

It was wonderful. That was then, this is now, that was then….. but it was the best pure 100% craic we ever had. Don’t think I could stick it anymore but you never know.

‘I can see a better time/when all our dreams will all come true’

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