Liam Farrell - Why I take a childlike delight in Christmas

Tidings of comfort and joy.

To some people, Christmas sucks; 'Christmas is a sad time,' my Auntie Mamie would say.

'Very sad,' my Auntie Alice would reply, not to be outdone in the relentlessly pessimistic auntie department; their Irish catholic upbringing was a gift that kept on giving. It's amazing that, despite all this, I've turned out so well, I feel almost normal.

So even after 20 years in the sweaty and insanitary trenches of general practice, I don't agree with my aunties, and I haven't lost my childlike delight at the festive season, because it does bring so many blessings.

For example, I don't receive quite as many threatening letters as usual, and a big bunch of red-berried holly is a lovely seasonal sight, even when it's being flung at you by an enraged old lady while you are trying to run away.

But most of all, the lynch mobs outside the surgery aren't as aggressive as usual, unless Christmas is unfortunate enough to coincide with a full moon.

The participants really make an effort to get into the Christmas spirit; they bring along party hats and streamers and crackers, maybe sing a few festive songs, for example: 'We know where you live, And we're coming to get you,' or 'You should have sent me for an X-ray, So now I'm gonna kill you.'

Some wag even brought along a Christmas tree, decorated with an effigy of a GP, doused it with petrol and set it on fire. What a blaze, how we laughed.

I don't even have to leave by the secret tunnel any more, but can escape by throwing a few sleeping tablets into the middle of the crowd, and while the mad scramble ensues, make a bolt for the cover of the police escort, stopping only to palm the sergeant a prescription for antibiotics.

'They're good strong ones, officer,' I'll say. 'Have a wonderful Christmas.'

'And a happy new year to you too, doctor,' he'll reply, gazing affectionately at the frenzied mob. 'Ah, would ye just look at them, sure isn't it a lovely time of year, and isn't it great to see them all enjoying themselves.'

Then he'll smile, ducking as a Molotov cocktail whizzes merrily past his head, and say: 'God bless us, every one.'

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