Great Britain

Cutting back at Christmas this year isn’t tricky…and may work a treat

TONIGHT all the little ghouls and monsters must stay indoors instead of roaming the streets demanding sweets, then buzzing about all night on a sugar high.

It’s madness to have the usual Halloween shenanigans and I reckon we should just cancel it altogether so everyone knows where they stand.

The rules for Scotland are crystal clear. Scots have been told not to go out “guising” round the doors in fancy dress, but for the rest of the country it’s the usual grey area of confusion.

The lack of clarity is more dangerous than the ghastly Americanised trick or treat celebrations, where you can end up pelted with rotten eggs by giggling mini witches and ghosts if you don’t hand over handfuls of Percy Pigs.

The rest of the country should simply follow Scotland’s lead and stop groups of kids gathering together to become super-spreaders by turning up at strangers’ doors and diving into communal buckets of sweeties that could be riddled with germs.

And I’m afraid we could well be looking at the same thing happening at Christmas, or at the very least having festive frolics on a far less grand scale.

Most importantly, we need to keep safe and protect ourselves and the vulnerable members of our families — and that means a much smaller celebration.

We also mustn’t forget there are people who have lost their jobs or are struggling and can’t afford to have a big blow out, and would welcome less of a fuss.

So maybe bringing Christmas back to basics is no bad thing after all.

In recent years it has become increasingly commercialised, turning into an orgy of buying stuff no one needs and could well live without.

Every single year, mums (and it usually is down to women despite great strides being made in equal rights) are stressed to the max, half killing themselves buying insane amounts of grub, then spending a tense Christmas morning trying to heft a giant turkey with all the trimmings into the oven.

And there’s the endless lists, writing cards, buying presents and squabbling over the last packs of mince pies.

It’s heartbreaking that families get into debt buying expensive plastic toys for the kids that the little darlings quickly become bored with, and then end up playing with the cardboard box and the wrapping paper.

Most of these toys and packaging end up in a landfill or in the belly of a whale.

I appreciate that it’s a horrible dilemma for family and friends to keep the numbers down to just six around the table on Christmas Day, which is what’s looking increasingly likely, but hopefully this will be the only time it will need to happen.

Look on the bright side — smaller gatherings mean fewer arguments over what to watch on the TV and far less washing up.

With not as much money around, everyone will understand if you can’t buy expensive presents, and it would be a great help to struggling small businesses if we all made our festive purchases on the local high street in small specialised boutiques and card and gift shops, and used the local butcher and fruit and veg store.

They desperately need our help to survive.

Here’s another thought if you can afford it. Maybe do something like donating a goat to a family in Africa on behalf of your dad instead of buying him socks, or make a donation to Crisis At Christmas or a homeless charity like Centrepoint.

Those sorts of acts of kindness are actually what Christmas is supposed to be about.

It shouldn’t really be a priority to eat and drink to excess until you feel bilious, or demand the latest trendy trainers or faddy toy.

Maybe this pandemic will make us all realise the most important thing at Christmas is to be with the people we love, and if we aren’t allowed to celebrate with everyone we hold dear, then to never take that for granted again.

All we can do is look forward to next year when we hope we will all be in a much better place.

Bobby, I had a ball

LIKE most old-school comics, Bobby Ball worked hard at his craft to make it look easy.

Every word and gesture was practised, to build up to a belly laugh.

I was so sad to hear of his death, after he tested positive for Covid-19.

I interviewed Bobby many times and always found him hilarious and a bit of a handful in the best possible way.

I loved his sense of the ridiculous.

The last time he came on the show, two years ago, was with his pal Tommy Cannon to talk about their 55-year partnership.

Like the late, great Les Dawson, Bobby was also a terrific actor and my condolences go to his wife Yvonne and his children, grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The world is a sadder place without him.

So sickly

THOUGHTS and prayers with Nigel Farage after his operation to be removed from Donald Trump’s bum.

His sycophantic pre-election rally speech meant Nige disappeared so far up Donald’s fundament we could barely see his feet.

Time for a Corbyn apology

SO goodbye and good riddance to Jeremy Corbyn.

He made the Labour Party unelectable and let in bumbling Boris, aided and abetted Brexit and was in charge when disgraceful anti-Semitism reared its ugly head.

There’s always been an anti-Jewish faction on the far-Left but they were able to make a hell of a lot of noise during the Corbyn years.

The distress and upset this caused to the Jewish community cannot be underestimated.

I salute in particular actress Tracy-Ann Oberman and Countdown presenter Rachel Riley, who both bravely spoke out and were vilified and trolled in the most appalling way.

Jeremy Corbyn should have the grace to apologise to both of these women, but we know that won’t happen.

Bizarrely, he thinks of himself as the victim and not the Jewish members of his own party who were harassed. Shameful.

School horror 25 years on

I WAS filming a socially distanced documentary last week in Dunblane to mark the 25th anniversary next March of a tragedy that shocked the world.

Sixteen children and their teacher were murdered in a mass shooting at their primary school.

I just want to sincerely thank all of the contributors who trusted me with their story, and the people of Dunblane for being so welcoming.

The way the grieving parents fought successfully to change the law on owning guns has made our country a far safer place for our children, and how those most affected have rebuilt their lives is truly inspirational and humbling.

Celebs' pain is my joy

SINCERE thanks to the foolhardy souls taking part in the upcoming new series of I’m A Celebrity.

I can’t think of anything better to take my mind off Covid-19 than the sight of EastEnders’ Shane Richie standing up to his nether regions in freezing water while cockroaches and rats crawl where the sun don’t shine.

In a derelict Welsh castle in the mi­dwinter, there’s not going to be sunbeams.

And while we also won’t see Corrie legend Beverley Callard chewing on kangaroos’ bums or a crocodile penis, I am sure the devilish producers will find scary bugs and slimy critters in our native countryside that will be equally ghastly.

Is it very bad I cannot wait to witness the celebs’ discomfort?

Meanwhile, thank God too that Strictly has returned. It’s a much-needed distraction from all the bad things in the world, so no wonder its ratings are their highest for three years.

There was so much to enjoy – Caroline Quentin’s elegant and emotional waltz, Bill Bailey looking like a gleeful toddler, the beaming smile of Nicola Adams, and my favourite pro dancer, Luba Mushtuk, managing to make former American football star Jason Bell look dainty.

I was, however, simply in awe of my pal Ranvir “the firecracker” Singh.

She was a sexy, red-hot chilli pepper in that dramatic paso doble and I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

Ranvir is, of course, an extremely intelligent, forensic political correspondent who spends hours outside 10 Downing Street delivering crisp, insightful reports – but she also has the makings of a fine dancer and will just get better.

I love her confidence and sense of drama – it all comes down to her astonishing dedication and work ethic.

I’ve got wine, crisps and a roaring fire at the ready and can’t wait to see her and her pro partner Giovanni Pernice dance again tonight.

Ranvir Singh performs the Paso Doble with partner Giovanni Pernice on Strictly Come Dancing

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