Saturday, 1 January 2011


Happy New Year! A whole new decade is upon us, so welcome to 2011! I know it’s a bit late to keep banging on about Christmas – after all, it has been and gone now, thank goodness – but I happened to spot another feature in the Evening Standard over a week ago which I couldn’t help but share with you. In it, different readers were invited to explain what savings they intended to make at Christmas in a bah-humbug cost-cutting exercise that’d make Ebeneezer Scrooge blush with envy.

Nick Curtis claimed he was giving up everything. “I’ve been stripping costs out of Christmas for years,” he said. “Individual presents for our extended families long ago gave way to general presents limited to £10 and allocated through a version of pass-the-parcel: this year, my sister’s three kids in Copenhagen are the only ones getting gifts – bought in advance, on Amazon, capitalisng on advtanegous postal rates. My wife Ann and I aren’t exchanging presents either. Instead, we’re having our worn, 16-year-old stair carpet replaced. In January – once the carpet sales start.”

“We used to send pointless cards to 150 people we either saw all the time or couldn’t bear to see at all,” Nick continued. “That stopped two years ago – instead, we donate the money to our mortgage.” But what about Christmas decorations, Nick? Did you not intend to jazz up your house with tinsel or a Christmas tree to fill up the room with some festive cheer? “Ann used to insist on a real Christmas tree. Then I replaced it with a six-foot cardboard (ie reusable) penguin, which I’d blagged for free after it came out of a Muji window display.” Hmm, I guess not.

“Christmas Day will mean steak, peas and potato gratin – cheaper and nicer than the full, overblown turkey shebang – and a pudding homemade by Ann, at my in-laws.” Hmm, it’s nice to see that the spirit of Christmas was truly alive and well in Mr. Curtis, isn’t it? Perhaps he needed a visit from the ghost of Christmas past? “Last year,” Nick said, “we had a Christmas party that meant not only lots of people ploughing through our wine stocks but decorations for the penguin, fairylights in the hall, and the expense of redecorating after I’d thumped a frustrated hammer through the hall ceiling for the umpteenth time. This year, no party, no fairylights, no hammer-based aggro. The penguin is staying flatpacked under the bed.”

Well, it looks like Nick needs more than a ghost to spook him into splashing out his dosh at Christmas, doesn’t it? The reason I felt Mr. Curtis deserved a special mention on Thanet Waves is it looks as though he is paying a visit to Ramsgate to ‘celebrate’ the New Year, so it’s nice to know that our local area is a welcome haven for tightfisted curmudgeons. “This year we’re extending the economy drive into the New Year,” Nick explained. “We’re having a supper for close friends at my parents’ house in Ramsgate, followed by free fireworks on the front, and a New Year’s Day spent plundering the Kent coast’s finest stores: Primark, TK Maxx and Poundstretcher. New Year’s Day lunch will be chips on the windy beech. Scrooge? Amateur.”

I guess we’re all watching the pennies, especially since 2011 promises to be quite a tough financial year for many, so I can hardly blame Mr. Curtis for being frugal. In fact, if he fancied a cheap tipple for the New Year, perhaps he should nip by to one of the many off licenses in Thanet. I’ve heard they offer some very cheap deals on bottles of... oh, wait, some had their alcohol licenses revoked or suspended, didn’t they? Damn. Oh well, methylated spirit it is then! Happy New Year everybody!