The Thing in the Cracker

Like, I suspect, a great many people during lockdown, I am internally watching a race between my glorious liberation and my incipient insanity. Time has shifted so that three weeks seems an impossibly long time – which is fair enough given that January seemed to have 57 days and February, the short month, has gone on forever.

I have become obsessed with the weather; during the last three days I began a tentative and tiny bit of gardening pausing, as my grandad would to say ‘There’s heat in that sun’. Today, looking through the window at the back garden is like looking into a washing machine. I just hope these little pots of Giuseppe Verdi tulips (Morrisons, £1) survive; actually I expect they are more resilient than me. However, my blue letter has arrived and I’m getting jagged in a car park in the middle of nowhere on Sunday (please, friends, no inappropriate comments.) It will be interesting to see what difference, if any, that makes to my erratic state of mind.

Are you finding that one of the effects of all this is that little things bother you – and please you? We watched a great episode of ‘ER’ last night; we are, at last in the final season, having been watching it for years on Monday nights, and at the climactic moment (old guy dying surrounded by friends and colleagues) we had some nectarine compote with a chocolate chip cookie, both made by me. Briefly, life was very good.

Anyway, I want help with something. It all started at Christmas, which was just Mr F and me. He cooked a great meal and we drank nice wine, having started the day with a Babycham glass of Babycham each, as has become something of a tradition with us: I know, classy. We had crackers and enthusiastically pulled them. Now, people, I know I am getting older, but isn’t it reasonable for me to presume that I would be able to identify anything that comes out of a cracker? Now the best crackers I ever saw were ones being reviewed by my friend Stephanie in her days as a journalist. They cost £50 for six….in about 1990….and we had three each, one bucolic night. I had the little silver expanding pen for twenty years until it ran out of ink. Sigh.

Anyway these were not £50 for 6; these were last year’s remnants, very slightly battered by a year under the stairs, but I had, in the interests of keeping up standards, dusted them. We read the jokes and the astonishing facts, and then we discussed what the object that emerged from one of mine was. The other cracker contained a tiny picture frame; sadly I didn’t get that, because it would have matched one that came out of a cracker a decade ago and which now contains a picture of Grandma in a fur. No, mine contained a THING: an oval of black plastic about two inches long, with a curious tiny phallic bit at the bottom with a soft tip; at the top a little plastic string connecting to a tiny cone of plastic. That tiny cone can connect into the metal bit which holds it on to the mother oval. It looks like a sex toy for very small aliens. But, of course, you have seen it. You are sitting there, I expect, thinking ‘How can he possibly not know what that is?’ You are wondering how best to break it to me. Maybe I am right, and someone in the know will confirm that it is indeed an alien sex toy, someone who does specialised work . Please do tell me, though – don’t hold back to protect my feelings – and if you would like to own it please do say. I am hoping that it is something to do with golf, because I can allow myself not to be able to identify anything to do with golf. Or cricket. And please do tell me if you, yourself, have ever wondered what a thing that sprang out of a cracker is.



  1. Because I have enjoyed a long lifetime of cracker things and keep up to scratch with world developments, my guess is that you have a thingy for using instead of your finger to point to your desired spot on phone or iPad. Thanks for the offer to have it, but no thanks- I have enough worry wondering what I should do with a miniature spinning top and unsolvable metal puzzle. 😃

    Liked by 1 person

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    I tried Cameron,


  3. Yep it is definitely a stylus, the little multi-ribbed thing goes in the earphone plug to keep from losing it, if you have an earphone hole. I like your writing, very funny without being anything vulgar. Found you when I was looking for Joppa after watching the gardening show. I’m in San Jose, Ca, long way away, but my daughter just moved to Oxford from Wales. I have visited Edinburgh, for about 2 hours in 2010 nearly not long enough of course but it was just a tour around on the train. Anyway do love your writing.


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