“Right,” says LittleBruv, topping up his port. “Organise the numbers, LegoBoy.”
My nephew starts tearing paper, while the rest of us make space on the table. Remains of Christmas pudding, turkey and nut-loaf are hidden in the kitchen to worry about later. I rescue a small pile of cracker remnants which are bound to come in useful at school for … something.
We top up the coffee and liqueur. Nieces Ezza, Rezza and Hezza haul in the presents from a sack – well, Ikea bag – in the hallway. YoungLochinvar and InfantPhenomenon heap them onto the middle of the table. And then we are ready to start the Annual Ritual of Extravagance and Delight which is the Naff Presents Game.
Ma has drawn No 1. She goes for a small box which might contain something expensive. It’s been securely wrapped and needs Pa and his trusty Swiss Army knife to reveal … a replica of That Engagement Ring. We murmur in awe as Ma holds up her hand to show us how the blue glass reflects the Christmas tree lights. Nice.
InfantPhenomenon has drawn No 2. “I want the ring!” she announces. Ma hands it over reluctantly and reaches for another present. It’s a pair of handcuffs. Ma frowns slightly.
“I suppose they might come in useful,” she says. “Why are you all laughing?”
LegoBoy is No 3. “Take the ring, LegoBoy,” urges InfantPhenomenon. “Win the hearts of the women of your dreams!” LegoBoy is having none of this, reaching for a DVD shaped parcel. He tears the paper impatiently and reads the title.
“Ferreting and Dogging Volume Two,” he announces. He turns it over to look at the blurb. “Farmyard ferreting and dogging action. Do you think you’d need to have watched Volume One first?”
And so the game continues. Further openings reveal a framed picture of the Vicar; a tongue scraper; another framed picture – signed this time – of the five original Eggheads; a plastic reindeer which poos sugar sweets and a peaked hat with a solar powered fan on the top. LegoBoy is much taken with a bottle of Shito and follows it longingly with his eyes as it moves from person to person. Clearly, this would give an indescribable amount of kudos among his 12 year old classmates.
“This looks like a vinyl record,” says Pa. “I’d better have that then. No-one else would be able to work it.” He carefully pulls off the tape and ribbon. “Chris de Burgh’s Greatest Hits,” he reads. “Who the heck is Chris de Burgh?”
“Lady in Red,” wail those of a certain age, in a pretty good imitation of C de B if we say so ourselves. Pa looks down the track list, shaking his head. “Not on here,” he says. Not until everyone has checked the track list for themselves, is he believed.
LittleSis reaches for the next present but Pa stays her hand. “Why would you want to open something else, daughter dearest, when you could have this amazing copy of Chris de Burgh’s Greatest Hits…”
“…without Lady in Red!” we chorus.
But LittleSis has already started to open her present. It is a small statuette of Jesus. He looks loving and kind. He is also cerise. Very cerise. And glittery. Very very glittery. Tasteful.
Rezza has the next present. It’s absolutely what she needs, having just moved into a flat of her own with a kitchen of her own. A pair of oven gloves: fingerless oven gloves. From Tesco’s specialised fingerless oven glove range. It says so on the label. Rezza’s fiancé, Kezza, takes them and turns them over and over in his hands. ‘Why? Why?” he mumbles to himself.
A lemon. A beaded curtain. A Torvill and Dean DVD.
Just LittleBruv to go now. The remaining present is an intriguing shape and it seems that everyone has had their eyes on it. The dining room has now turned into a braying market place and LittleBruv is knocked over by our powers of persuasion. Get sparkly pink Jesus into your life – he loves you! You’d be better off with the Vicar on your dressing table! Keep this special ring in your pocket – the woman of your dreams could be round the corner! Handcuff her so she doesn’t get away! Listen to Chris de Burgh’s Greatest Hits without being bothered by Lady in Red! Get those buns out of the oven without smudging your nail varnish!
Why? murmurs Kezza again.
But there is no stopping LittleBruv bringing the game to its conclusion. Slowly, he peels away the final Christmas wrapping paper. And it turns out that he has won the greatest Naff Present of the game. A portable enema kit. So you can go, on the go.
“What I’ve always wanted!” he says. “I do hope it’s not second hand.”
Ladies and gentlemen, I offer you the Naff Presents Game. With a health warning.
There are people, I believe, who have started their Christmas shopping already. Such foresight is not for me. However, once you are bitten by the Naff Presents Game, you will find yourself – regardless of the time of year – drawn to the tackiest of items.
On holiday in Florence, while ActorLaddie was admiring the architecture of the Duomo, I was more taken with the market stall selling boxer shorts. Particularly the pair printed with part of Michelangelo’s David. I’ll leave it to you to work out which part… One for the bottom drawer, methinks.