A witty one-act comedy of manners, told from Ralph’s point of view when his extended family come round for Christmas dinner. His parents have invited certain relatives, but others turn up anyway, and Ralph weaves his way skilfully through the chaos which ensues.The device of creating very short chapters gives the effect of Ralph moving around the house with a video camera focusing on different people as they interact within the confines of the small house.

The characters are all just slightly larger than life, offering entertainment while still being entirely recognisable. Titania is Ralph’s annoying little cousin given to wearing frilly dresses and singing soppy songs about fairies in the garden. Uncle Tristam is his mother’s brother and a cynical ally in the battle against Titania. Great Granny is the matriarch of the family, given to statements like, “If I had my own teeth, I’d bite you,” and “By the time I was your age I had read Milton.”

A fairly jaundiced view of Christmas and family gatherings in general, the story focuses on the family members and their idiosyncracies and interactions. Obviously presents and turkey come into it, but Christmas is only the backdrop: it could have been set at any celebration if the author had wished.

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