Christmas for Adults is a Bit Rubbish
There – I’ve said it.
Deep down we all know it’s true.
When you’re a child you get excited about a month before. You’re looking forward to all the wonderful presents that Santa is going to bring you - wonders await, loads of presents, exciting toys that you can’t wait to show to your friends, games, books, electronic devices.
Fast forward a few decades.
The month of December flies by. The nights draw in to the point that you get 15 minutes of daylight on the way to work.
Christmas looms. The pressure is on.
Are you going to have a brilliant Christmas?
Then the day comes. You’re an adult. Half of what you are getting, you already know about.
Relatives and friends buy you ‘ironic’ gifts. Yes that plastic spanner with a feather on it is going to be put to excellent use.
Oh, something ‘fun’ to go onto my desk? Fantastic.
So it’s no surprise to learn that come Christmas morning, after the ‘excitement’ of opening my presents I fancied a long walk in the countryside with my girlfriend, Claire.
What could be more relaxing, than a nice brisk walk, out in the open air, enjoying nature and just taking in the day?
The answer is ‘lots of things’, it turns out...
We decided on a walk in Berkhamsted, which was about thirty minutes’ drive away. We looked up a specific walk on the internet.
We got into the car. We had not exactly prepared fully. We had a flask. We had a map on my phone (provided the battery didn’t run out), a compass on the phone. We had walking boots, and a packet of crisps.
Not quite standard issue for people trekking out into the middle of the countryside, with about two hours’ daylight left.
The walk should have been straight-forward enough, follow the instructions walk for four miles, on a circular walk and end up back where you started.
It takes you across various fields and public footpaths, through lots of mud, up and down hills, alongside some people’s back gardens and through some thick forest and into certain death – although it conveniently neglected to mention the final element in the description.
We started out well enough – across a couple of fields and then a bench to sit on and have some soup. No sign as yet of the tribulations to come.
On we went – into a field with about 15 horses. Claire, being Claire, was quite happy to wander up to the horses and get kicked in the face by them. I preferred to keep my distance – about half a field away.
Not content with being close enough to the horses to start a stampede, she decided the best way to make friends with them was to use a flash on the camera.
They took exception to this, by getting a bit agitated. It was at this point I checked my phone signal to make sure I’d be able to call the Ambulance that was bound to be required very shortly.
“Hello? Yes, ambulance please? My girlfriend has been trampled by 15 horses. In a field. In the middle of nowhere. Is she breathing? I don’t really know, as I’m in another field about half a mile away. Did she provoke them? Does walking across a field saying ‘HELLO!’ and waving a flashing camera around count?” I was ready.
By some horse whisperer miracle, the stampede was averted and the horses, just snorted slightly and gently moved away.
On to the next field. This is where it all started to go wrong.
The instruction was to walk around a cottage to a small gate – there were no boundary markings, so, being a city boy in the countryside, I was already on full alert to get shot as soon as I accidently crossed into private land.
It was at this point, despite having allowed me to be in charge of directions since the beginning of the walk (admittedly the instructions so far had been to walk straight ahead across three fields), Claire decided she no longer trusted my ability to lead (does this sound familiar to any other men?) and started to try to take us off in a different direction and into certain death.
The description was fairly clear – go around the cottage until you get to a gate. The problem was that we had encountered another gate a bit earlier than expected. We weren’t sure if this was ‘the’ gate, or if there was another gate a bit further on.
A difference of opinion occurred.
I’ll paraphrase the conversation somewhat:
“It’s this way” she complained.
“No, it doesn’t match the description on the walk instructions”
“Yes it does. Let’s follow it this way for a bit and go across here into certain death. In fact it’s starting to get dark now, shall we wander backwards and forwards reading the same paragraph of the walk instructions over and over, trying to match the description with what we are seeing?”
“Yes, that sounds like a good idea. Then once we’ve done that a few times, and started to want to cry in fear and desperation, let’s go the way I said we should have gone just as it gets to an eerie twilight state, and we discover I was right all along”
We brilliantly executed the aforementioned plan down to the last detail.
We were back on the correct route, but this leg of the journey involved undefined paths, a walk through deep woods in fading light, puddles that seemed to get deeper and deeper and hidden ponds with no defined edges. And probably bear traps.
I had brought a small torch with me. This would prove to be a life saver for the few minutes it worked before the batteries ran down.
We were over halfway through the walk, with a small fading torch, short battery life on the phone, low on provisions and at least one and three quarter miles from civilisation. Nobody knew where we were, including us. Thoughts of the Blair Witch Project sprung to mind.
I didn’t want to go for a walk on Christmas day anymore. The romance of the situation had gone.
I longed for my ironic gifts. Or novelty gifts, which I think is just another word for ‘rubbish’. Novelty gift conjures up images of desks cluttered with crap, and toys that no grown adult will ever play with or really want.
My ‘novelty’ gift to myself was a walk in a field which gradually turned into a fight for survival. On top of that, I had now discovered that I had chosen as a companion someone that would doubt my ability to follow instructions on a walk and had as good a sense of direction as Mark Thatcher with his new Apple Maps app.
We had finally made it through the woods, but we weren’t out of the woods yet, so to speak.
There was still about another mile to go, in complete darkness. The next instruction was, cut across the field and head towards the black barn.
It was dark. The barn was black. Across a field.
We could see the outline of four buildings across the field. From one of those fields we could hear the barking of what sounded like a pack of very agitated large dogs. This was not the time to accidently wander onto someone’s land, in the dark waving a broken torch about.
We chose a building and headed towards it. As we neared the buildings a movement activated light came on, a door opened and the barks of several dogs suddenly became louder. The silhouette of a large man filled the doorway. This was it.
“Get off my land!” Dogs ran towards me, larger than the horses we had seen in the fields, a torch shone in my eyes blinding me, as the last thing I saw briefly was saliva and dog’s tongues and gnarling teeth.
Except, they didn’t. The owner of the dogs turned left and took the dogs for an innocent stroll across the fields, completely ignoring us.
We moved on past the barn, following the instructions on the walking route. Claire tried channelling the spirit of Mark Thatcher once more at another fork in the path, but I was more confident having been correct on the previous occasion and overruled her (the exact wording of the conversation cannot be conveyed here due to decency requirements).
Finally we could see street lamps and hear traffic. Civilisation was near.
We had survived. A quick car journey and a warm bath awaited.
We arrived home and I immediately unwrapped my desktop table football game and got into the true spirit of Christmas.
I stayed in for New Year's Eve. It was safer.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
*Disclaimer: I have been asked to point out that some of the above narrative may not strictly be based on the true events of the walk, and may have been exaggerated for comic effect.
If this amused you, please feel free to share it with others who may enjoy it too, the world shouldn't be ALL misery.
This was a blog post brought to you by Lewis Bryan, stand up comedian, actor, and writer.
He can be booked for weddings, parties and barmitzvah's.
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© Lewis Bryan 2014