The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS -

CAN­CELLED flights, un­ex­pected guests and a granny left hold­ing the baby are among the fes­tive mishaps and may­hem that be­fall long-suf­fer­ing Beth and Eric Baird in the Christmas spe­cial of BBC Scot­land sit­com Two Doors Down.

The cou­ple – played by Ara­bella Weir and Alex Nor­ton – are look­ing for­ward to set­tling down for a quiet meal for two. Then all hell breaks loose. Sud­denly it is din­ner for seven. They are joined by a stel­lar cast that in­cludes re­cent mag­a­zine cover star Elaine C Smith, Doon Mac­kichan and Jonathan Wat­son.

Here, Weir and Nor­ton share their own best – and worst – Christmas mo­ments.

Car­ols, Christmas hats and crack­ers. That is some­thing we have done since my sons Jock, Rory and Jamie were chil­dren.

My wife Sally and I order the tur­key from our lo­cal butcher in London, which is an­other of our tra­di­tions. When you go to col­lect it and every­one queues up, the staff come round and give you lit­tle glasses of mulled wine while you wait. It is all very jolly and peo­ple of­ten burst into song.

My big thing is that I’m al­lowed to start drink­ing in the morn­ing on Christmas Day. I will have a Buck’s Fizz and that is fair dos.

A Lone Ranger out­fit with a six-gun, mask, the whole she­bang. I used to run around Pol­lok­shaws in Glas­gow be­ing the good guy. I put it on straight away and wore it so much – I even slept in it – that my mother even­tu­ally had to tell me to take it off so she could wash it.

A bronze bi­cy­cle from my Mel­rose granny. That was very ex­cit­ing. I would have been nine or 10. I could ride a bi­cy­cle, but didn’t have my own.

My granny in true Scot­tish tra­di­tion wasn’t in the habit of buy­ing new things (and nei­ther were my par­ents). Es­pe­cially for the third kid. I was al­ways get­ting some­one else’s old bi­cy­cles. But this one was brand new. I was not ac­cus­tomed to get­ting new things, so I was very pleased with that.

I was in­vited to a party at one of our neigh­bours when I was seven or eight. Look­ing back I think it must have been a last-minute in­vi­ta­tion. They started giv­ing out all the presents and I got re­ally ex­cited, but then I opened mine and it was a pair of socks.

Every­one else had nice toys and I was given these bloody socks. I went away and had a wee greet to my­self in the corner. That is the only time my heart has ever sank at Christmas.

My mother, who was a com­pli­cated per­son, was very an­noyed with me one year, although I didn’t know this at the time. She gave my sis­ter a cash­mere sweater, my broth­ers a com­puter each and me a dog-eared book of poetry from the up­stairs lav that wasn’t even wrapped up prop­erly.

I opened it and said: “This is the book from the up­stairs lav.” And she replied: “Doesn’t mean they aren’t good po­ems.” This was the Christmas when I was 31.

What my mother wanted – and what she got be­cause I was much less to­gether than I am now – was that I started scream­ing and shout­ing. It was the fight she was look­ing for. To her dy­ing day she al­ways pitched us against each other.

I rather fancy my­self as a bit of a chef when Sally and I host the fam­ily. But she’s the chef on Christmas Day and I’m her kitchen bitch. I do what she tells me.

Me. Al­ways. There is no get­ting away from it. I love Christmas, but there is pres­sure. Ev­ery­thing has got to be more per­fect than on an or­di­nary day.

I haven’t got one of those ex­pen­sive ovens every­one buys. That is the only day I wish I had one, when you end up try­ing to cook roast pota­toes, roast parsnips and roast what­ever-the­beast-is at the same time. I grilled the tur­key last year.

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