Tony Schumacher tells it like it is - and that's definitely without bells on

I HATE Christmas, honestly, I really do. I hate the cheery, snow covered adverts: let’s be honest, have you ever seen people skating with carrier bags outside a department store?

They are more likely to go on their arses after slipping on the compacted snow. (“Not just broken ankles, M&S broken ankles”).

I doubt there anything bleaker than a card that says, ‘Merry Christmas from number 9 to number 4’. It’s the kind of thing they used to send Patrick McGooghan to wind him up when he lived in Portmeirion

If those adverts were realistic they would just show narky blokes pushing trolleys full of loaves and milk while their wives said things like: “Why did he have to marry a vegetarian? Do you think she’ll eat ham?”

I hate the Christmas telly. Two hours of watching cockneys fight in a pub, followed by Dawn French dressed in a dog collar, makes me want to punch myself in the face. And as for the Queens speech? Her Maj and her family are more the face of Jeremy Kyle, not the stamps.

I hate the Christmas parties. Every year I invariably end up with groups of people who moan about one another all year long, thrown together in a tight space after consuming too much alcohol purely by dint of the fact they live or work in close proximity to each other.

One by the one they exit the cab, and,as they go, the remaining ones slag off the one who has just got out: “He/she is such a cock, did you see the state of their shirt/dress and the way they were all over (insert office junior’s name). He/she is old enough to be their ..... etc”

Eventually when I am left with one in the back, I always like to say: “I’m going to call you for everything when you get out of here.”

And they will be embarrassed and say something like: “Oh, we are a big happy family really.”

I hate Christmas dinner - not because I have one, I don’t (I had spaghetti bolognese last year in defiance), but because everyone invites me around to have mine with them. They think I am depressed on my own. I normally am, but only after watching the cockneys in the pub fighting.

“Come to ours for Christmas dinner, we are only having a few people around.” I always imagine myself sitting in the corner while everyone looks at me whispering things like, “Bless, there is only him and the dog. We didn’t want him being on his own in case he hangs himself.”

Trust me, as a one time employee of Merseyside Police, I’ve cut down a few people who have hanged themselves - and if I was going to kill myself that wouldn’t be the way. Besides I’ve only got an extendable dog lead. I’d end up on the landing at the bottom of the loft hatch with one of those broken ankles.

I hate Christmas crackers, I’ve had enough disappointing bangs followed by poor jokes (see above entry re office parties).

And Christmas cards, especially ones off the neighbours. I doubt there's anything bleaker than a card that says, “Merry Christmas from number 9 to number 4”It’s the kind of thing they used to send Patrick McGooghan to wind him up when he lived in Portmeirion.

I hate Christmas trees, especially when they go up in July (I’m ranting here so that maybe a slight exaggeration). And if you decorate your house with those

electric blue lights, I hate you. Aside from making your home look like a sun bed shop I keep thinking it’s a police car behind me when I catch a glimpse in my mirror. Stop it, stop it now.

I hate walking the dog on Christmas Day. My normally quiet lanes are full of people “having a stroll after lunch” in new hats and gloves. They look at me and say “Out getting a bit of peace and quiet?” and I smile and nod and think to myself “No, I’m waiting for my dog to have a dump,” like every other day of the year.

All in all, as I mentioned earlier, I hate Christmas.

Last year, I worked during the day (escaping those cockney Mitchells). It was the usual thing: Mum and Dad with the kids. Bin bags of presents and best clothes, crammed into the car; Dad reeking of aftershave he’d unwrapped a few hours before.

“Remember, we can’t stay for long, we have to go to my mum’s for four.”
“I don’t know why we couldn’t go to your mum’s first.”
“We always go to my mum’s for dinner.”
“I know, that’s what I am saying.”
“Just leave it, will you.”
“Next year...” etc.

Around two o’clock I picked up in West Derby, a couple in their mid sixties, smartly dressed - him: grey suit; her: best coat. He got in the front, and wished me “Merry Christmas” and told me where to head for.

Once we’d got going, she asked me if I was working all day and if I had family.

Now, sometimes I lie at times like that. Sometimes it’s easier to create a “normal” life, tell them about my kids getting me up early with their presents and my wife “doing the dinner” and explain that I’m only working for a few hours before I go home for my roast and to put on my new slippers and watch the DVD they bought me.

But this time I didn’t. This time I told them the truth: “No, I’m out all day, the dog got pissed at his Christmas party and I’m staying out of his way.”

They laughed and I steered them away from the inadequacies of weird life.

“Are you doing the family thing?”
“Yes, we are going to our son’s and his wife’s for dinner, we are running late,” he replied, casting a glance to the rear of the car.
“Oh lovely.”
“They’ve had a terrible year; their little boy has been very ill, he’s only three and he’s has such a tough time.”
“Oh dear.”
“He’s a fighter,” she replied.
“How is he now?”
“Still fighting,” he replied.

We pulled up at the house, a modest semi in a nice enough area. The front door was open and daughter-in-law stood waiting, no doubt alert to the perils of too dry turkey and a mother-in-law’s raised eyebrow critique.

Holding her leg stood a blond, curly haired little boy. He was dressed in a brown corduroy bib and brace, shiny red Wellington boots and jumper only a grandma would knit.

He watched the car, unsure if it was really the one.

When Grandma got out his face shone. I could spend a lifetime sitting here trying to tell you what it looked like, turn page after page of a thesaurus looking for the word that could catch his smile and tell you how it beamed, but I’d never find one that would tell you how beautiful he was.

His little wellies clumped down the drive as he ran to his nana’s arms and when she picked him he was the happiest little boy in the world.

I hate Christmas, honestly I do.

Tony Schumacher's debut novel, The Darkest Hour, is published by Harper Collins and is out now. £18.99 hardback and £7.99 paperback. He isn't working for Delta any more.