James Marston’s busy schedule

I’ve looked in my dairy and it’s a shocking fact but I am busy now until mid-January.

I’m not sure whether I should complain or not but isn’t this time of year busy?

On Friday night the ladies of the book club popped along to my small Felixstowe flat with sea views (distant) to discuss the latest book I haven’t read.

While they were talking I administered white wine, cups of tea and some nice chocolate biscuits (buy one get one free) I’d picked up in Morrisons.

Anyway, once we finished discussing the book and mentioned the next one – Othello because we’re going to watch the film in the sitting room of one of our group who has a big screen – the talk moved on to our Christmas party.

We are all dining together a couple of weekends before Christmas.

The same weekend I have the Ipswich Star journalists dinner – always a riot where everyone under 35 drinks too much and everyone over 35 feels old and drinks too much as well – so by Sunday I shall be rolling around unable to move beyond lift my fingers to a box of chocolates to take the hangover away.

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The following week I have to repeat the process with a few friends and for my other job with our family business in the west of the county.

Of course for these dinners you have to make your menu choices and pay in advance as restaurants at Christmas, it seems, rarely like any surprises financial or otherwise.

Almost without fail chicken liver parfait/pate/terrine is on the menu with the occasional prawn or mushroomed based alternative. For main course turkey is the stalwart with adjectives such as succulent and Norfolk and “all the trimmings” usually thrown into the mix in a futile attempt to disguise one of mother nature’s most tasteless of meats.

Dessert is Christmas pudding or a selection of “Suffolk cheeses” which, considering that this is hardly a big dairy area always seems a triumph of hope over experience – though I suppose brie bought in Bury St Edmunds counts.

For the vegetarians there is usually an alternative – but I’d rather not think about that.

This year, dear readers, I have managed to go off piste menu choice wise with a seasonal game pie I found lurking unexpectedly on one of the menus and a belly pork alternative offered as an alternative to us journalists.

In fact with the exception of Christmas day itself and with a fair wind I think I shall just about be able to successfully avoid turkey – Norfolk or otherwise - all together.