I deliver my Christmas cards.
Delivering Christmas cards is a political act. I scuttle round the village, zipping furtively up and down driveways like a transvestite Baath party activist leafleting South Carolina.
The aim, as ever, is to get in first. That way there can be no suspicion whatsoever that one is giving a Christmas card solely in reaction to an unexpected receipt. Already I have spent several hours pondering the Venn diagram depicting 'good friends', 'friends' and 'people who I meet in the village pub and am very friendly with but probably would not describe as 'friends'', and in an act of calculated aggression, have decided to play it safe. I stagger up the lane laden with several hundred greetings. Short Tony's dog looks at me sarcastically as I stuff one into his box.
In this year's Realpolitik I have a distinct advantage - I have skipped village without leaving a forwarding address with many people. Wallace and his wife have been wise to the ploy however, and have sent a card via Mrs Short Tony. I worry that they will think that I would not have sent them one anyway. I sent them one last year. I hope against hope that they have good memories, as I slip my own greeting through their small and rather tight flap.
My plan is to deliver my entire load, disappear from the village and hide, then reappear unexpectedly back on Wednesday in time for the big Christmas quiz night. That way there will be lots of slightly embarrassed 'thank you for the card Jonny, we haven't actually got round to writing ours yet, let me buy you a pint instead's. I will not want them to be embarrassed so I will accept graciously in the true spirit of Christmas.
Now for my masterstroke - I leave one at Luc's. I know very well that Luc won't have got me a card, as we don't know each other very well, but we got quite drunk together a couple of Sundays ago and he seems like a nice chap. Now he will forever be in my debt, which is great as he has quite a big house and is possibly quite rich. He has a very long drive - I skip away from his house with a spring in my step (not literally).
Finally, a declaration of war. A card and some homemade chocolates for Len the Fish. In return for the meat etc. he has given me this year. I know very well that Short Tony will not have given Len the Fish some homemade chocolates. Honestly, I am good at this. I should have been at the trade talks and they would have accomplished something.
Chuckling slightly, I leave my deposit on his front step and sprint back to the car to blow town.