James Marston: Have you got the receipt fr unwanted Christmas gift please?

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

So it’s nearly here.

The day when I get to open all my presents and wonder what happened to the receipts.

My plain-speaking-photographer-friend, Lucy, tells me to re-gift unwanted gifts: a system whereby you unwrap a gift aimed at giving you pleasure, rewrap it and give it to someone else when it doesn’t.

Apparently she does it all the time and has even had friends re-gift gifts to her that she has gifted them, so you have got to be careful gift-wise in case you re-gift the wrong gift.

We were discussing the dilemma on the way to the police.

You see, you don’t get breathalysed every day ? well, at least I hope you don’t.

But that’s what happened to me this week when I paid a visit to Suffolk Constabulary headquarters up at Martlesham to go on patrol with the roads policing unit – traffic police to you and me.

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Sergeant Julian Ditcham, one of the few policemen I’ve seen in recent years that doesn’t look like he should still be at school, drove me and my plain-speaking-photographer friend Lucy up and down the A14 for a bit while we chatted about the dangers of going too fast and coughed up about the times we had been stopped by the police.

Though in my case it’s been those (and I might be tempted to swear here if I wasn’t writing for a family newspaper) cameras that have usually caught me when my right foot has been a bit on the heavy side.

At the end of it Julian said he thought he’d better breathalyse me to highlight this year’s no drinking and driving campaign. As usual Lucy captured the moment.

Obviously I didn’t refuse because that would open a can of worms – and I didn’t fancy Lucy taking pictures of me being cuffed with a blanket over my head like some American gangster – and I had Christmas shopping to do. As regular readers will know I have a sister who is tricky to buy for.

Well, don’t we all.

After being asked when I last had a drink ? “Saturday night, as it happens. I may have imbibed a couple”, I replied, not wanting to admit the couple referred to bottles, not glasses, though I was dining at the same time. Squid, actually.

Anyway, as instructed, I blew into the machine. I’d never done it before, and within seconds it came back with a zero reading.

The strange thing was that even though I knew I hadn’t had a drink, and wasn’t drinking and driving, I still felt relieved: as if I had got away with something. How ridiculous.

I was half expecting to be asked to walk in a straight line and balance something on my nose but that didn’t happen. Instead Julian gave me the plastic tube as a keepsake which on the top ten list of journalistic freebies wasn’t much of a freebie at all.

Though I can always re-gift it I suppose, in the New Year.