F*ck February: A few reasons the shortest month is the worst


I do not like the month of February, when everything is dead. And now that February itself is gone (for this year, at least) I’m going to speak ill of it. I’m also going to complain about the weather, and grumble about public transport, and generally whinge and mope. If you’re looking for something uplifting, I suggest you skip this one…

So, for you hardcore miseryguts who’ve stuck around past that preamble of woe, here are a few of the many reasons February is a pile of crap. There are seven of them, because that’s my least favourite number. *Flounces out of the metaphorical room*.

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The 12 days of Christmas 1: Mystery Meat

Merry Christmas! I’d like to clarify right from the beginning that I am not, I repeat not, promising to do twelve of these posts. I’ve learnt from previous years not to hang that kind of millstone around my own neck again – I have sleep to catch up on, thank you very much, and I don’t fancy being lambasted by Archers fans again. But in the spirit of Christmas, I’ve decided to generously gift my hordes of fans just one cartoon. Or maybe two or three, if you ask really nicely… Merry Christmas. 

This year, I’ve been trying to eat less meat. I’m some way off going full veggie – I just don’t have the willpower – but I’ve been leaning more towards pulses than poultry. The main motivation for this is environmental; like many, I’ve been experiencing a growing sense of guilt and existential dread, thanks to all those videos of starving polar bears, forest fires, dwindling wildlife populations and, most crushingly of all, David Attenborough’s deep disappointment in humanity as a species.

Despite all this, I’m letting my half-hearted ethics fall by the wayside for a couple of weeks, Pam-from-Gavin-and-Stacey style. After all, Christmas is not a time for thinking about your fellow creatures. In fact, in the Lyster household, Christmas is mainly a time for eating your fellow creatures in copious quantities. Our house is full of meat. It’s a carnivore’s paradise. There’s no room for beer in the fridge because it’s full of bacon and sausages. I’m reliably informed that the freezer contains ‘the best part of a deer’. And then there’s the centrepiece of our Christmas dinner.

I’m a fan of turkey. I don’t understand the complaint that it’s a dry, flavourless version of chicken – I think it’s succulent and delicious. Nothing makes me happier than living exclusively off turkey sandwiches in the week between Christmas and New Year. My parents, on the other hand, are somewhat indifferent to this fine fowl, so our Christmas dinners are often a touch unconventional. In the past there’s been goose, venison, beef wellington, and on one memorable occasion, a raised game pie.

Nearly all of these meaty masterpieces are the doing of my father, who likes to channel the banqueting spirit of Henry VIII. And this year, Dad has surpassed himself. Right now, filling the entire oven, mid-way through its six-hour roasting time, is a terrifying creation that has become known as The Beast. It’s a multi-bird monstrosity: a turkey, stuffed with a duck, a chicken, several pheasants and a pigeon. It’s the size of a house. It weighs as much as a toddler. Those are going to be some sandwiches…

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The 12 days of Christmas 12: Can of worms

By the time I reach the end of my Christmas cartooning marathon, Christmas itself usually seems quite a long time ago. And this year, what with starting a new life in the big smoke and a certain amount of internet-based drama, the novelty has worn off earlier than usual; I’ve begun to regret making such an extensive promise, although I’m pleased I’ve managed to fulfil it.

I have a feeling I might do my Christmas series differently next year. I’d like to spread my cartoons more evenly throughout the months, and doing 12 in a fortnight eats up an awful lot of time. I’ll have a think about how to cut the format down or space it out – if you have any thoughts about what you’d like to see (and aren’t an enraged Archers fans) then give me a shout.

On the subject of things that get out of hand, I thought it would be fitting to make the last cartoon of this festive season a tribute to the internet. Hopefully it speaks for itself…

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The 12 days of Christmas 11: Dangerous habits

Here’s the post you should have had yesterday, when I started my new job. In preparation for such an important Proper-Grownup milestone, I felt the need to spruce up the smart end of my wardrobe a bit, and so (as I mentioned on Day 5) I went clothes shopping, an activity I rarely enjoy.

The only thing I actually enjoy shopping for is coats – to a dangerous extent. I love coats. I could spend thousands of pounds on coats in mere hours if I had the money. It’s perhaps no coincidence that the coat section of my wardrobe is the only one to be amply stocked, and so I’ve had to confine myself to a look-but-don’t-buy strategy.


The 12 Days of Christmas 10: The Archers (yet again)

Well, it’s been a strange and eventful day. I generally avoid doing reviews on this blog because I’ve always been irrationally afraid that the person whose art I’m insulting will read what I have to say. It’s never been a big worry, because my online profile is pretty low, but now it’s happened.

I woke up this morning to find that my post about The Archers from the very first 12 days of Christmas had been shared on social media by the official Archers page. I now find myself in the confusing position of being both slightly star-struck to be tweeted by Lynda Snell, and horrified that I know who Lynda Snell is. And apparently I’ve displeased the fandom.

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The 12 days of Christmas 9: A lovely walk

I’ll keep this short, because I’ve just moved to London, and I’m rather busy what with starting a new job tomorrow and everything. The aforementioned job is also my excuse if the next three posts fail to materialise on time…

We decided to go for a lovely family walk in a lovely forest on the first lovely bright shiny new day of 2017. Sadly, 2017 had other ideas, and decided to make its first day a dull rainy miserable one. Being us, we went for a walk anyway; the below picture should give you an idea of how much the ‘fresh air’ helped me to appreciate our comparatively cosy house.

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The 12 days of Christmas 8: Fireworks

2016 is dead, long live 2017! We’re currently graced by the spontaneous presence of my aunt, uncle and cousin, who’ve popped over from Amsterdam to live the high life in rainy Herefordshire. As part of our rowdy New Year’s celebrations yesterday (read: quiet celebrations conducted at 11pm), my uncle produced some fireworks.

There are certain situations in which you don’t want to hear the phrase “Who needs instructions?”, and a home-grown firework display is one of them. I’m still recovering from the terror excitement of the evening, but despite some flagrant breaches of common-sense health and safety protocol, nobody suffered any permanent damage. To be honest, I think we got off lightly…

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