Out There column

Gregg Wallace.
Gregg Wallace.
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So it has begun. The count-down to Christmas is underway and there is no escaping it.

I apologise in advance to any Christmas fans, but I’m not a lover of the festive season.

A couple of months ago, on a blisteringly hot day, I attended a meeting in a Blackpool hotel. I nearly choked when I spotted a Christmas tree, groaning with baubles and lights, taking pride of place in the hotel’s main reception area.

“It’s what people want,” exclaimed the receptionist. “Not me,” I grumbled.

We can’t even enjoy the delights of late summer, autumn, bonfire night and Halloween without somebody shoving Christmas down our necks.

I also have to be wary when having a look on Facebook as my sister’s husband insists on proclaiming the number of days to Christmas accompanied by a photo of rather menacing-looking Santa each and every day. Simply bonkers.

However, my loathing of Christmas has not stopped me from agreeing to go with a friend to the Christmas Ideal Home Show in Manchester in a couple of week’s time.

It must have been a moment of madness. I was eventually lured by the promise of a rather fancy Christmas lunch at the event’s restaurant. But it’s no ordinary restaurant. It is being run by Gregg Wallace, he of MasterChef fame. My friend met and chatted with Gregg at last year’s event and I’m hoping to do the same.

In another moment of madness I went shopping at the Trafford Centre on Sunday. The booming echo of the cavernous domes made it feel like being trapped under water in an enormous swimming pool. And, of course, Christmas paraphernalia was everywhere.

Anyway, Christmas isn’t all bad. This year I’ll be spending it with my family in Edinburgh. I don’t want any gifts – the best present for me is always spending time with the folks and having a laugh. I’ll just have to grin and bear the rest of it.