Inside this week | I won’t be home for Christmas

I wonÂ’t be going home to Britain for Christmas. While I have fond memories, I donÂ’t miss it anymore. Besides, I was always hungover, sometimes even on Christmas Eve, which was a shame as it was one of the best pub nights of the year. For what seemed like a long time in my teens, all the Christmas Eves merged into one narrative, as if you were merely resuming a conversation youÂ’d left off 365 days beforehand.

Great times, but as they say in panto, it’s behind you and I started to shun the jolly, kissy catch-up. I’d turn up at the local already sloshed, fail to recognise the people I spoke to last year, swear at a former teacher, lose something, stumble home and have a whisky-fuelled argument with a family member – one year it even ended violently with a brother. The evenings started to remind me how little my life had moved on. Christmas Day, the embodiment of everything that was sacred in my childhood, had become a lie-in, a hair of the dog drink, a meal, and a television marathon.

Now I have kids, all of that has changed, but it makes me wonder what it was about the British Christmas I used to love. Was it really all about the telly? Maybe I wasn’t getting out enough. My parents were too uppity to take me to anything that would demand interaction with ‘poor people’ (they didn’t actually say that, it was my aforementioned brother). Insulated from the perceived working classes (in 1984, during the miners’ strike, my friend’s mother paid me 50p an hour to shovel horse dung because it was the same wage as the strikers – and I believed her), I had to rely on other people’s parents to take me to my first football game, and also my first (and only) pantomime.

The CTCs decision to start doing an annual panto is another reason for not going ‘home’. Denmark already has more traditions than most countries, and if it can borrow a few of the ones that don’t revolve around pickling your liver for Boxing Day, the more the merrier.
But if you fancy a couple of festive drinks in a classic British boozer, you wonÂ’t find a better one than CharlieÂ’s.While it canÂ’t guarantee you any former teachers to swear at, it offers some of BritainÂ’s best loved bitters, including my personal favourite, HarveyÂ’s from Sussex, a stalwart of many a Christmas Eve past.