THE BARRIE HUDSON COLUMN: The ultimate Christmas checklist

Swindon Advertiser: Sweet tip: Transfer your favourites to one tin, give guests what's left Sweet tip: Transfer your favourites to one tin, give guests what's left

WITH just a fortnight to go until the big day, the chances are you’re a bit worried about your Christmas preparations.

Nobody wants to forget something and perhaps spoil their festive season, but at the same time nobody wants to be so stressed out by the preparations that Christmas Day itself seems to pass in a blur.

That’s why I’ve decided to share part of my own pre-Christmas checklist of things it’s sensible to do over the next few days. They’ll help you make sure this really is the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ for you and yours:

  • Sweets in Tins. This tip might seem trivial, but as the twee little-girly-voiced One Direction cover version in the supermarket ad reminds us (see ‘Twee Little-Girly-Voiced Songs’ below), it’s ‘all these little things’ that matter. If you’re having friends and family over, instead of buying your customary one tin of Quality Street or Roses, buy two, open them, transfer all your favourites to one of the tins and hide it for eating in private at a later date. Leave the other tin out for guests.
  • Mulled Wine and Cider. Why use expensive pre-prepared mulled wines when you have random herbs in your cupboards and can buy wine for £1.99 a bottle in certain supermarkets? Remember also that proper mulling cider can cost a fiver or more for half a litre, while white cider with 7.5 per cent alcohol is about four quid for three litres. The dissolved non-stick surface of your saucepan will enhance the flavour.
  • Round Robin Christmas Cards. For normal people, a Christmas card should consist of a picture of a robin on a twig, some Magi following a star or some carol singers gathered with lanterns around a snowy porch, together with the words ‘Merry Christmas’ in glitter and a signature inside. Some acquaintances choose instead to enclose a smug A-to-Z round-up of their family’s doings throughout the year. If you’d rather not hear from them anymore, prepare an A-to-Z of your own and send it to them. You don’t have to be truthful, just creative. H is for Hernia, C is for Crack Cocaine, S is for Stalking, R is for Restraining Order, B is for an unspeakable criminal offence involving a Shetland pony.
  • Excuses for the Non-Arrival of Toys. Obviously you can’t afford everything the kids would like, but you don’t want to traumatise them permanently by telling them Santa has been killed in a high-speed sleigh accident. Tell them instead that he’s in intensive care and likely to pull through, but that his elves are too upset to make any toys more complex than the ones in the pound shop.
  • Twee Little-Girly-Voiced Songs. I admit that following my tips won’t necessarily make you the most popular person among your circle of friends, or even in your own household. You should therefore buy some recordings of Twee Little Girly-Voiced Songs of the kind that are used in Christmas commercials for supermarkets and department stores. Play them whenever anybody criticises you. After all, if this music can make millions of people go all mushy and sentimental over a great big orgy of cynical, fatcat-enriching, debt-accruing, insecurity-exploiting commercialism, they’re going to make you end up looking like the Angel Gabriel.

Ho ho ho.



A NEW survey has revealed that 69.7 per cent of all Swindon commuters drive to work.

Naturally, there will be people in national positions of power over public transport who regard this as a symptom of selfishness by car users. They will proclaim that we should all use trains and buses instead.

Perhaps those people would care to answer a few questions.

Have you ensured that, mile for mile, public transport is cheaper than the car?

Have you prevented certain train companies from treating their customers with about as much restraint and respect as a looter shows in an unguarded shop?

Have you seen to it – with the use of generous subsidies if necessary – that the bus network is given enough resources to make travel from home to workplace reliable, regular and efficient?

Have you, in short, ensured that a person using public transport reaches their destination more cheaply, more comfortably and more rapidly than they would if they made the journey in their own car or shared one with a friend?

If the answer to the above questions is ‘yes’, then we owe you an apology for failing to take advantage of the wonderful works you have wrought.

If the answer to the above questions is ‘no’, then we cordially invite you to shut your flapping pieholes.



I WAS glad to hear that the nasty fire at a skip business in Cheney Manor didn’t cause any injuries.

Having said that, it was impossible to be anywhere near the place without getting a lungful of acrid smoke, much of which was apparently generated when the flames got hold of old timber.

Still, at least the unpleasantness only lasted until the fire burned out.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to have such a fire burning permanently in Cheney Manor, which is a stone’s throw from thousands of homes.



WELL done to Tom Law, who at 17 is one of only 0.8 per cent of learner drivers who achieved a perfect driving test score.

It’s such a great achievement that I can only assume he’s some sort of psychic. How else, for example, was he able to get through a test lasting half an hour or more and not be shocked into an error by a driver in front making a sudden turn without indicating?

How was he able to negotiate all those roundabouts and not have a single near miss with somebody who waits gormlessly even though they have the right of way, then suddenly surges forward?

And what about the people who drive along at 30mph in traffic and then slam on the anchors and reverse to the sidestreet they missed?

If the young man is reading this, perhaps he’d be kind enough to let me know tomorrow’s winning lottery numbers.


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