The Bloke, December 23: Christmas is here. Oh God.

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The fates have conspired against us. We’re playing a desperate game of catch-up.

AND so it begins – the countdown to Christmas.

Yes, I do realise tomorrow is Christmas Eve and most people have already bought and wrapped their presents, braved the hordes at the supermarket to buy the Twiglets they forgot when they did The Big Christmas Shop and are now watching It’s A Wonderful Life on DVD and wallowing in the blissful smugness of it all.

But I am most definitely not one of those people. I have only bought one present so far that isn’t for my children, I still have copious amounts of work to do in order to ensure I can take Christmas Eve off and am generally behind the eight ball on absolutely everything festive-related.

At some point tomorrow we are due at my parents’ house, where we’ll be staying until the weekend.

We have already received anxious phone calls from both them and my sister as to what time exactly they can expect us.

At this stage I am unable to commit to anything beyond “some time after lunch”, despite their relentless attempts to pin me down to an exact timing.

This is because things keep conspiring to stop us being as organised as everyone else.

For instance, it turns out the strange smell in our hallway was due to the transformer from our burglar alarm slowly burning a hole in the wall. The Missus is threatening to refuse to leave the house unattended until it’s repaired.

Then, yesterday, I realised that both the headlights and sidelights on one side of my car weren’t working. It meant that instead of spending my lunch hour buying those presents I desperately need to get, I spent it watching my kindly mechanic trying to reattach the cap thing that stops gunk from the engine getting into the headlights. Arguably more fun than running the gauntlet at Debenhams, but not particularly productive.

And finally, just to ensure that we head into the heart of the festive season (during which I’ll be expected to clock up 400 miles behind the wheel ferrying us between relatives), the children have selfishly decided to get really poorly.

It meant that over the course of two nights at the weekend I managed a sum total of seven hours’ sleep.

So essentially I have one day – today – to finish all the work I need to do, buy presents for my entire family, including my wife, that don’t reek of last-minute desperation, ensure we have a fully operational burglar alarm, double check the car won’t fall apart somewhere on the M1 and then cram just about everything we own into its boot.

This could well include a sofa bed mattress, given my parents’ insistence that their grandchildren will still fit in the travel cots they slept in as babies – which means that yours truly is destined to end up on the living room floor.

So Happy Christmas. Personally, at this point, I just hope we survive it intact.