Christmas Eve at the local pub

When I walked past my parents’ bedroom and saw my father donning his purple waistcoat, accompanying his purple pink and blue pinstriped shirts, I knew he was Up For It.  My Dad gets a strange nervous energy in bustly social situations not involving children, ie. in the pub.  It makes his voice go high and shrill at any given moment because he thinks his effeminate camp shtick is reliably hilarious whatever he’s saying (although I’ve no doubt some do find it amusing). 

He willingly watched and subjected me to “My Family” before we went out, doubtless thinking me odd when I expressed how unbelievably shit I thought it was.  I remain unsure how I was produced from his loins.  The feeling is probably mutual.

We were heading up the local village pub for Christmas Eve: my Dad, Mum and I, as is traditional.  It’s usually not so bad.  Busy in the tight space of the main front room where we all normally congregate, younger people back for Christmas mixing with the older stalwarts of the establishment.  Our trio trudged the five minute walk up the moonlit snowy road.  It wouldn’t be terrible, I told myself.  There were a few regulars who weren’t too bad.

Tonight it was the Landlord’s smart idea to try out Christmas Carols in the larger, less well frequented rear function room, using the aid of a synth-strong keyboard and a single trumpet player.

My parents led me into the main room, which was busy and tightly packed.  Dad decided to quickly turn around and head for the function room, sold by the Landlady’s sales pitch which mainly consisted of “CAROLS, COME ON!” and wanton enthusiasm.  We wandered dumbly down the short corridor, lambs to the slaughter, took a right and opened the door: one old grey bloke propping up the bar, a daft drunk smile smeared on his suspect face, watching the spectacled Landlord on the keyboard and a middle-aged bleach blonde lady parping painfully on a trumpet.  Dad bought the first round, as is customary (me second), and we took a seat by the radiator.

I hadn’t watched many episodes of Peter Kay’s “Phoenix Nights,” but  it immediately struck me as a reasonable comparison.  We stayed the only willing spectators in the room, but for the old grey bloke at the bar.  It wasn’t surprising.  Dad started singing along, as did Mum, I imagined out of pity.

Then Dad saw the microphone.

MICROPHONE! he appeared to scream in his head, magnetically attracted like a dog to a stick.

The flittering Landlady re-entered the room, offering support to her husband, and joined Dad at the microphone.  The opening auto demo chords led into “O Come All Ye Faithful.”  I chewed on my scarf some more, not knowing whether to laugh or cry.  Dad, dressed in his idiotic waistcoat and shirt, and the Landlady sang heartily

The speccy Landlord at the keyboard was NOT amused.  Furious, in fact.

11/12ths of the pub’s custom was still camped out in the small front room, steadfastly not wanting to sing, not caring that there was barely any more room to stand.

The Landlord returned to the room with a new lead for the amplifier.  The tests worked, a synthy intro kicked in and they resumed.  Dad and the Landlady rejoined on vocals.

After three more carols it stopped being funny and started being quite  depressing.  Still no more people entered the room.  I’d returned the round of drinks and drunk my second quickly.  I’d been there about an hour: most of the minutes excruciatingly backed by that trumpet parping woman.

I asked Mum if she had a key for the house because I needed to go home and stab myself repeatedly in the eyes.  She looked at me and, understanding but disappointed, handed it over.

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