Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Is There a Family More Dysfunctional Than Gavin and Staceys? Yes Mine; Role Models: Gavin and Stacey and Some of Their Eccentric Relatives Gather for a Special Episode of the Bafta-Winning Comedy to Be Shown on BBC1 on Christmas Eve

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Is There a Family More Dysfunctional Than Gavin and Staceys? Yes Mine; Role Models: Gavin and Stacey and Some of Their Eccentric Relatives Gather for a Special Episode of the Bafta-Winning Comedy to Be Shown on BBC1 on Christmas Eve

Article excerpt

Byline: LIZ HOGGARD

The week before Christmas in London is a frantic round of partying, meeting friends for cocktails and catching zeitgeist plays (last weekend I saw Hare, Pinter and the Portobello Panto with gorgeous James Corden). You get home at 2am every night, high on culture and goodwill. This is the life you have made for yourself at 40.

It is, of course, the glorious moment before the crash. The reason most of us party so hard in the festive season is because they strip everything away from you. The witty friends, the invites, your own fridge. They close the shops and the swimming pool and the cinema. Even the trains stop. Brick by brick, that lovely life you have assembled just collapses.

We should probably go abroad, but theres something about the psychic pull of a family Christmas that makes perfectly sane adults agree to be cooped up together for days, surrounded by tinsel and turkey leftovers.

My sisters and I operate a cunning rota the only way for grown-ups in their forties to pull off the Christmas trial without murdering each other. We arrive at staggered intervals, so no one has to be relentlessly cheerful all the time. Heavens, sometimes were never home simultaneously. Kate is just upstairs, you tell your parents brightly, as you hear her car purr down the road.

Didnt Liz arrive yesterday? my sister Ros asks innocently, just as I am catching the last train out of Euston on Christmas Eve, wrapping presents with my teeth.

The trick is to keep busy. By the time I arrive theres only time for Baileys and bed. Next day is an orgy of present unwrapping (if you play it right it can still be going on during the Queens speech). My mother buys me interesting books about 70-year-old women who change their lives. I buy her books about 40-year-old women who re-invent themselves. Then we silently swap. …

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