I spent my best worst ever Christmas here in Brisbane, with my brother, in a share house up on Stuartholme Road. The house was OK and my brother was cool. None of the other flatmates were criminally insane. It should have been a reasonable time.
Reversing the usual pattern of the festive season, at least when you're in your 20s, our parents were away that year, leaving Andrew and I to wallow in Christmas bachelorhood. And wallow we did.
Our housemates had their own families to visit, leaving us to handle the prep for Santa. In the way of young idiots, we left everything until the last moment. Literally.
At about 5.50pm on Christmas Eve I said, "Mate, we'd better get some groceries in, eh?"
There was a local store, a sort of off-brand down market 7-Eleven about five minutes walk away. By the time we got there the only fresh food they had left was a stale loaf of bread and one packet of processed ham, approaching its use by date.
That was our Christmas dinner. (Lunch too).
We'd planned to rent a bunch of videos from the fake 7-Eleven, this being long before internet porn was available. But again, by the time we got to the shop the only tapes—yes, tapes—left were a couple of Humphrey Bogart vids. And not his best work.
The first tape jammed in the video player about five minutes into Hollywood Victory Caravan, so at least there was that.
Also, we forgot the beer.
This was much worse than the Christmas I spent in Darlinghurst by myself. At least there I was able to walk up to the Cross and get a watery Christmas whisky and some hot chips in gravy at a strip club.
This not so fond reminiscence is by way of offering my best wishes to anybody who's having a bit of a crap Christmas this year. You might be working. You might be posted overseas. You might not be getting on with family or friends. My advice? Things can get worse. Get to the 7-Eleven before the cheap, processed ham sells out.
I kid! I kid! I kid because I care.
If you are having a tough one this year, my best wishes to you. I had my own hard time of it in 2017 and I got through with the support not just of friends and family, but of you guys. Be as kind to each other as you have been to me.
And Merry Christmas.
(Seriously though, that cheap ham sells out. Better get some now).
John Birmingham is a columnist and blogger for the Brisbane Times. He is also an award winning magazine writer and the author of Leviathan, the Unauthorised Biography of Sydney, which won the National Award for Non-Fiction. He amuses himself in his down time by writing novels which improve with altitude.
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