21 May


Crackers traditionally have snaps (which make them crack and give them their name) and you can’t make these at home. Your options are:

  • Don’t use them. (They often don’t work anyway.)[1]
  • Buy them from craft shops (which increases the cost of your crackers).
  • Find some innovative way of doing crackers – and I’ve been working on this for years and haven’t had a stand-out success so if you find something, do let me know! I’ve tried egg shells (which are very pretty when painted gold but are fiddly and limit the trinkets you can use) and balloons (put the stuff inside and then blow them up – but you need to wrap the trinkets first to disguise them) and spring-loaded boxes (which I couldn’t get to work at all).

So this is one case where you should make a snap decision.

21 may 2016.jpg
Golden eggs: the Christmas cracker with the free-range crack.

It was Matthew’s birthday dinner tonight. The young ones all headed off after the cake but Matthew, Wendy, Don and I sampled the single malt whisky Ben gave Matthew… and Matthew did more than merely sample it. In fact, he got quite teary and it all came out:  he’s fifty and he thinks he’ll never have children.

Don suggested that he get a young floozy but Matthew quoted stats about declining fertility in men[2] and said that he tried dating a twenty-five year old a while back[3] and it made him realise that he’s looking for an equal partner and that’s likely to be someone his own age.

“That could net you stepchildren,” Wendy observed.

“More likely to be step-adults,” corrected Michael.

Then I reminded him that he is practically a father to my children: he took them to Little Aths for years, was always there for their birthdays and school concerts, has played uncountable games of Uno and beach cricket with them and actually saw more of his nieces and nephews that some live-in, workaholic dads do.

Wendy added what he’d done for her kids and reminded him that they’d all been keen to celebrate his birthday. (Emma, in particular, insisted on coming which means it was week-old Mia’s first party.)

This did cheer him up a little and then I put him to bed in my spare room because he was certainly not in a fit state to drive home.

[1] Q: What do you call a cracker that doesn’t crack?

A: I don’t know, but if you can think of a witty answer, you’ll have another riddle for Christmas Day.

[2] Which shows he’s been researching this.

[3] That will have been Sienna who was terminally obsessed with fashion and who lasted four weeks.

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