The season to be cheerful

As it’s the season to be cheerful, I thought I’d start this week’s column with a joke.

I’m telling you it’s a joke because it’s so subtle that when you read it you might think to yourself, “Phil said he was starting with a joke, but he forgot to put one in, the poor old fool!”

One of my friends is an eminent ophthalmologist. (Try saying that while eating a packet of crisps) He’s the best in the country. And he’s also pretty good in the city. Anyway, while I was visiting him recently, he showed me a new piece of equipment he’d taken delivery of. It was a quarter of an inch thick, six inches long, had a tiny blade at one end and was used for intricate ophthalmologic surgery.

Take it from me, it was a real eye-opener!

Hello? Are you still there?

Talking of cardboard (!), have you had any through your letterbox recently?

I’ve had loads. And I didn’t complain. Because this is the time of year we all recycle cardboard amongst ourselves. I send pieces of cardboard to friends, relatives and colleagues.  And in return, they all send pieces of cardboard to me. Then, at some point early in the New Year, we’ll all place these pieces of cardboard into the cardboard recycling boxes that’ll be set up in shops and supermarkets.

Do they also recycle the cardboard recycling boxes that the recycled cardboard is recycled in? Answers, please, on a recycled postcard.

Of course we’re not talking about plain cardboard. In fact, you shouldn’t be talking at all, because this is my column. When you get your own, see how you like it if l talk over it.

These are special pieces of cardboard, covered in glitter and featuring drawings of laughing snowmen, Dickensian coaching inns, Father Christmas, reindeer and sumptuously decorated living rooms with an enormous Christmas tree in one corner and a glowing log fire in the hearth.

Yes… Christmas cards!

Apart from the ones I’ve mentioned, I’ve also seen a few that actually feature a Nativity scene!

I thought you’d be shocked.

I won’t get all heavy about how we’ve lost the true meaning of Christmas, but if you were an alien visiting Earth, having seen the Christmas TV ads we’ve been subjected to since September, all featuring crowds of people in paper hats, seated around huge tables groaning under the weight of an obscene mountain of food and drink, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Christmas is only about filling our faces and necking down as much booze as we can in a bizarre race to see who will keel over first with a coronary, in a pungent cloud of expensive aftershave while clutching our new Swiss watch.

Because I haven’t seen one ad or watched one TV show that’s mentioned we celebrate Christmas because of an event that every primary school child knows happened in a Bethlehem stable 2000 years ago,

Now that, to me, is a real eye-opener!