Tipping point

The two middle-aged men were engaged in a dance which, while employing elements of a passable tango, was largely a sort of grunting push-me-pull-you routine; not the kind of activity we're looking for down at The Shakespeare. It would have to be brought to a halt, sharpish.

"Alright, you win. Thank you very much."

I took the money and retired with as much dignity as I could from the scene, sporting a startlingly reddened complexion and a rictus grin. I'd spent the last three or four minutes, you see, attempting to refuse the offer of an eye-watering tip from a happy customer who'd spent every evening of his week's holiday in the bar. He'd tried to squeeze the money surreptitiously into my palm while I forcefully resisted, hence the unedifying spectacle of a couple of blokes in their fifties lunging about the place under the bewildered gaze of a few customers hitherto expecting little more than a quiet pint in a convivial atmosphere.

When the generous offering was divvied up the next day, each of the staff received the handsome sum of fifty euros.

"Right," I thought, "I'll put my share to one side to make sure it doesn't get swallowed up in day -to-day expenses and then I'll treat myself to something really lovely." I tucked the spondulicks in a sock drawer.

This all happened quite some time ago and, I have to say, the drawer in question remains steadfastly unopened. Well, except for when I've needed clean socks.

The thing is, I really can't think of anything I want, certainly not a caprice, anyway. I mean, there's a bathroom tap that needs replacing in the flat but that would feel like a rather ungrateful purchase. In the olden days I'd have bought two or three CDs but that endeavour has become all but obsolete and, not being a big reader, I've already got various books lying around I still need to get to grips with. Clothes? Nope, don't like 'em. 100 guitar plectrums? Possibly, but if past experience is anything to go by, I'll have lost them all by a week on Tuesday. No, let's face it, I've accumulated everything I could ever need in life and that makes me very, very lucky indeed.

This is why this time of year always feels a bit uncomfortable.

"What do you want for Christmas, Peter?"

"Erm, nothing really, thank you. I'm fine."

"Don't be miserable. There must be something."

"No, really, thank you. Give a couple of quid to Cudeca instead, that'll do the trick."

With any luck someone might get me a pair of socks as a gesture - at least there'd be a reason to open that desperately neglected drawer.

Merry Christmas, everybody.