Feelings were definitely running high at the supermarket this morning. White-knuckled women, over-filled trolleys, a gap in the shelf where the Heat’n’Serve Mulled Wine should be. And it’s only December 22nd. But as one of those fortunate people who will be someone else’s guest on Christmas Day, I’m outta there.

Which is not to say all is calm and bright in this household. That December urge to cook myself to a standstill has me in its grip as usual.  Things I’ve observed this year:

1) I’m an incurable tinkerer. For instance, the recipe for pheasant rillettes (which I might say are looking and smelling pretty good) received the off-piste addition of an otherwise useless quarter inch of Bushmill’s whiskey.

2) there is a ridiculous amount of food in this house. 

3) I inevitably find myself with a long position on egg whites, which tempts me to make some of Myrtle Allen’s Irish Coffee Meringues, but Myrtle, see 2).

I’m not sure why I do it.  I suppose there’s a certain comfort to be had from a warm fragrant kitchen when it gets light at 9am and dark again by 4pm, but Mr Ebenezer Fitzpatrick is already wearing his Why, Oh Why face. Furthermore, in my absence this morning he breached the Rathgar Protocol on When It’s OK to Start Eating Christmas Food by opening the Stilton. Well, when it’s gone, it’s gone. I hereby pledge to stay out of the shops now till December 28th. At the earliest.

This year we are keeping Christmas according to the Western calendar. As far as I know Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow doesn’t read this blog but I would nevertheless like him to know that I’m tired of being out of step. Ireland is not Russia. Please get with the programme.

On a completely different tack, I link here to a depressing but excellent piece by Victor Davis Hanson, my favourite fruit farmer and military historian. Just one note to British readers: VDH’s use of the word ‘tosser’ will strike an unintended comic note. In California a tosser is a person who fly tips. Over this side, dear American reader, a tosser is a moron, an unregenerate douchebag. So if he also happens to fly tip, he’s a tosser twice over.  Anyway, read it and weep.

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