The Quality Street won’t taste the same without my family | Grace Dent


When I’ve told people I’m working on Christmas Day, broadcasting live on BBC Radio 2, their reactions have said a lot about British Christmas food. “But, but… you won’t be able to drink!” they gasp. “All day long!”

Friends’ and colleagues’ faces alike are misted in a vague befuddlement, trying to envisage themselves enduring a similar sober fate. But no one, to date, has mentioned perhaps missing the delicious dinner. No one has said: “But, Grace, does that mean you may be too busy for the sumptuous turkey we all love so much, and the over-boiled sprouts, and the very heavy fruit pudding served with custard?”

There’s an argument that the British yuletide menu is, dare I say it, not actually hugely unmissable, and what many of us do to titivate proceedings is to stay gently spangled from breakfast onwards. We will eat our smoked salmon and scrambled egg with a bottle or two of prosecco, before delivering our late-morning “Thank you for the book token and bath bomb” phone calls armed with a gin and tonic (rather like a nation of Jerrys from The Good Life), then two or three glasses of wine with “the bird” and all the trimmings, before a good, long, mouth-open snooze in front of something by Pixar.

Thankfully, there will be many NHS and emergency services workers who will also not be drinking booze on the 25th. Which is just as well, because the heady blend of free-flowing advocaat and haphazard attempts to use the cordless electric carving knife mean we really, really need microsurgeons and air ambulance pilots available. But I digress.

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