Christmas is said to be happiest time of the year: I’m not sure by why or by who, it seems like the kind of thing someone who has never celebrated Christmas would say. It’s all a bit too convenient. Too flowery. We should be realistic about Christmas: it’s a deeply, truly miserable time of the year hallmarked by loneliness-induced suicides, dysfunctional family disputes and drinking dangerous amounts of alcohol to nullify the pain of not being able to enjoy Christmas since you found out Santa isn’t real, or your wife left you, or that you’re £20k in debt and facing redundancy. Merry Christmas!
But where does that leave Dronfield? What do Dronfieldians do over Christmas?
Ever since The Stoops shut down nobody has a clue what to do on Christmas Eve. They make it up, they make bad decisions and end up at The Jolly Farmer if they are particularly naive. They think it might be fun – they are wrong. The smarter ones will stick to the High Street and take advantage of the Green Dragon, the Manor House and JDs (possibly the only three places in Dronfield worth going to. edit: also The Victoria Inn) but location isn’t everything – you’re going to have to deal with people. Shitty, shitty people. Shitty, awful people you don’t want to see and remember why you haven’t kept in touch with them for the last five years.
Remember, it’s Christmas which means everyone is back. All the old school friends, ex-girlfriends, ex-boyfriends, ex-friends and other people you happily forgot existed. They will speak to you or at you, they will tell you how successful they are and skip over the immovable internalized anguish they feel daily. They will neglect to mention that most days are a struggle to get through without tackling demons of insecurity, regret and unfulfilled potential. They’ll say they do whatever for a living and forget to mention that their boss sometimes strokes his hand across their thigh or sends them explicit text messages they never reply to.
They will ask you how you are keeping and you’ll say something non-committal and jokey like, “you know, living the dream, haha!” instead of asking them to go away or making an excuse to leave. You may even stand for a minute afterwards in silence next to each other, tell each other it’s “great” to see them, and make a point of saying to get in touch to plan going for a beer which will never actualise.
Unless watching middle-aged men snort cocaine in crowded bathrooms is a regular sight for you, prepare to have your polite small-town sensibilities upturned. It might not snow, but oh man – it’s always a white Christmas in Dronfield. Be prepared to be offered drugs and don’t be a wimp about it. Drugs aren’t cheap so if someone is friendly and charitable enough to offer you some cocaine, you just take it and don’t be a girl. Don’t be the guy that’s like: “This man just offered me a rare and expensive commodity in a bathroom and I am upset about it because I’m unappreciative and absolutely no fun.”
These guys – older guys – the strong larger sessions drinkers, might be wearing Barbour, North Face, Montcler or a Rab gilet. They will vacuum up heavy clusters of naughty salt and find someone to have a problem with. They will tell the person that they are lucky that their mates are they or they would kick their head in, and that they best fuck off or they don’t know what’s going to happen! They don’t really mean it, they only mean it in the only way you can mean something after 12 San Miguels and a gram of yellow coke: irate, confused and obtrusive.
At some point, depending on who you went to the boozer with, you might find someone you actually want to speak to. I doubt it though. If you do manage to avoid the schoolfriends and the what-are-you-looking-at crowd, the boozed up annoying girl you can’t remember the name of, the sorry-I-spilt-your-drink-but-I’m-not-going-to-buy-you-another person then I hope something really horrible happens to you because nobody should get away that lightly: after all, it’s Christmas. I hope someone bumps into you in Fat Sams as you drunkenly order a Garlic Bread Supreme or chips and cheese. I hope they fall cheese-side down outside and the turkish proprietors laugh at you. I hope that was the last of your change and you lost your bank card when you were chopping up lines in the Farmer toilet.
You’re going to have to walk home with cheese sauce on your leg, looking like a right twat.
See you next year.