Myself and Babybro looked disdainfully at the 80’s tribute band and declared almost simultaneously that the singer was NOT Freddie Mercury, as much as he believed he was. He might be able to hit some of the high notes for ”Under Pressure” but poncing about in a white vest did not a legend make. Luckily the guitarist, with a giant blonde centre parting, sunglasses and a complete lack of dancing ability, was more approachable and did a complete guitar solo at our table, finding the time to prop himself up on one knee at a chair beside me, so I wrapped myself around the knee and thanked the universe that nobody in the family was sober enough to remember to take pictures. It would NOT have been beautiful, which was confirmed a couple of days later when Mammy printed some pictures from her camera, showing myself and Lilsister and our double chins, allegedly dancing in a way that was so horrific it made my face bright red, and made Lilsister bang a Christmas Cracker off her head, and make a face that can only be described as ”grimmacing”.
A DJ followed the band, who sweated so much they slid off the stage once the Aha and Madonna numbers had been belted out (for both of these numbers I rang Trevor, whom I found out later was just finishing an 11 day in a row shift at work, and who did not appreciate our attempts to hit the falsetto parts of ”Take On Me” (the cheek) at half eleven at night. She also did not recognise our version of ”Into the Groove”, something I found most insulting).
Once the DJ cracked on with ”Billie Jean” (the tribute band not being stupid enough to attempt it themselves) there followed a dance off between Babybro and the Baker, with my flesh and blood pulling out all his MJ steps, and The Baker making a fair fist of some 90’s moves, before doing a rousing rendition of a Worm on the floor, which stopped the entire family in its tracks. Fabulous stuff, and it was followed by what has pretty much replaced the Irish national anthem at Christmas time – the Pogues singing ”Fairytale of New York” which requires all participants to wrap about each other and sing whichever version they know best – the aforementioned smash hit of the Pogues, or the amazing Christy Moore acoustic strumming piece.
This brought the DJ’s set to an end, but Sisinlaw, quite drunk after a couple of bottles of red, declared Christmas officially ON, and we continued belting out the classics to each other which left everyone out of breath and sitting down, except for Babybro and Sisinlaw who kept on singing to each other, and therefore created one of the most perfect Christmas images in my wandering mind’s eye – the two of them, in their Christmas finery, parents of my much beloved Little Niece N, singing Christmas songs into each other’s ears, drunk on wine, beer and love, being the best parents and happiest couple in the hotel that night, and in the world. They spun around the table, and we all sighed because we were in the presence of something quite as lovely as roast potatoes cooked in goose fat on Christmas Day.