To kick off, Will Self remembers a perfect Christmas – with none of the trimmings Joy Division and a Vesta curry by Will Self When I was 20 I tried to spend Christmas alone.It was a protest – of sorts – and also an actualisation of a deep and twisted disappointment in family, love, cosiness and cheer – all of which I held to be, in this the climactic period of my protracted adolescence, Yuletide lies and festering festive spirits.When I wasn't haranguing anyone who'd listen on the subjects of nihilism and my own rampant anomie, I'd listen to Joy Division on my tape recorder (remember those!

It was cold that winter, and scuzzy rime built up inside the tall, ill-fitting sash windows.

Even with the noxious gas fire continually twittering on in the corner my room felt exposed to the winds blowing from the Urals.

Early the following year Russian tanks would roll into Poland.

Frankly, I wouldn't have minded if they'd invaded my room – for there was no solidarity to speak of.

She, however, had ignored my entreaties, reasoning – quite rightly – that here was a Scrooge who needed saving from himself: her family were on their way from London to visit relatives in Cheltenham, why on earth shouldn't they drop by. I certainly recall that there was a cosmic awkwardness in the collision between my attitudinising and their hearty affect, just as my undress dishevelment looked worse than ever set beside their smart holiday attire.

They didn't stop for long – I stuck to my guns and refused to go with them.

My father had recently emigrated to Australia with his new love – a nice enough person, if I could've appreciated it at the time, but all I seized upon was her proclivity for writing spiritual doggerel. It was my final year at university, and together with five women (something of a coup), I shared a damp and cavernous redbrick house in the Jericho neighbourhood of Oxford.

My bed was a makeshift pallet of lumpy mattresses; I had turned the wardrobe on its side.

But then, horror of horrors, at about four in the afternoon there came a loud and insistent knocking.

I considered not answering it and stayed doggo, but then jolly voices were raised – calling out my name, and residual manners forced me upright.

Like all kingly babies, I imagined myself to have a Divine Right; it was as if, by ruining Christmas for myself I could somehow ruin it for everyone else.