Lynne Mortimer - I have already pulled my Christmas cracker and the jokes weren’t all great

The fortune fish didn't tell Lynne much

The fortune fish didn't tell Lynne much - Credit: Archant

Q: What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back?

A: A stick

Yes, I have pulled my first Christmas cracker of the season. I had a Christmassy lunch with a ladies’ luncheon group which raises money for MacMillan. I wish all the jokes were as good as that.

My cracker novelty was one of those cellophane fishes that can judge what sort of person you are by the way they behave when you place it on the naked palm of your hand. If they flip over, it means you are passionate. The woman sitting opposite me also had a fish and hers went bonkers, curling up into a ball, doing somersaults and jumping off her hand. I looked at her in a whole new light after that. Mine just curled up its tail which means, disappointingly, “independence”.

As for my cracker joke (see above), about one in six people had the same joke so, when I asked the question, about 10 people called out the answer.

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I seem to recall, about a decade ago, a supermarket (was it Asda?) had a competition for new cracker jokes and, for a time, things seemed to improve. “Two parrots sat on a perch. One said, ‘Can you smell fish?’

I note TV channel Gold has run, for the third year, its competition to find the best modern Christmas cracker jokes. Last year’s topical winner was: “What will be missing from Take That’s Christmas stocking this year? An Orange.” That must have had ‘em all rolling in the aisles (towards the exits). The previous year’s was “What does Miley Cyrus have for Christmas dinner? Twerky.” OK, that’s not bad. Obviously, I know what twerking is. I tried it once and my husband thought I was having a turn.

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Probably shouldn’t have done it in Marks & Spencer.

It’s getting a bit Christmassy out there now and I expect I shall soon be receiving those deadly round robin letters from people I haven’t seen since university (73-76). Though it’s nice – sometimes sad – to hear what’s been going on in people’s lives, I always feel at a disadvantage because, unlike my academically brilliant friends, I never get to spend six months on a volcanic outcrop finding umpteen new species of beetley things.

Then there are the ones who have retired early on fabulous pensions and have been travelling the world or spending the entire summer in their French gîte. You would think that my day job would give me the vocabulary I need to make my year look amazing. But no. I’m not very good at embellishing my life. It’s the same when those cards come round the office. Congratulations on your new job/wedding/baby. I can never think of anything witty to say. I sit there and ponder. I try out a draft on a scrap of paper and always resort to: “Best wishes, Lynne”. At least I put the comma in.

And speaking of abuses of the English language, what happened to “dedications” on the radio. I am told they are now “shout outs” or “shoutouts” or “shout-outs”. I trust this is only a feature of yoof-oriented broadcasting and will not be manifested on the more sober radio stations. The example in the online Urban Dictionary is: “I want to give a shout-out to Louisiana’s Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco for bringing to light the problem of Louisiana’s coastal erosion....” Well, while I feel she certainly deserves credit for her stand, I think a simple “thank you” would suffice.

You can probably tell I am getting into the Christmas spirit. Not. I think I’m crabby because I haven’t seen my grandsons for a fortnight.

George used to talk to me on the phone but now I get the impression he has to wrench himself away from an important zoo animal project to greet me.

“Hello, grandma. I’m busy at the moment.” And he’s gone.

In the background I can hear him telling the lion to say hello to the antelope... George doesn’t need to know the awful truth, yet, does he.

I’m going over to see them in a day or two so I daresay I will be allowed to sit on the floor and walk the giraffe along the road on the play mat. Baby Wil will doubtless give me one of his endearing, beaming smiles that indicates he knows he needs his nappy changed but, if I want him to stay this happy, I’d best not go there.

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