The list of subjects to be avoided in polite company just got longer.

Party politics, partying princes and the powers of women scorned are right off the festive dinner conversation menu. Get them over with early, would be my advice. At least before the turkey goes in to roast.

Add to those hazardous topics Brexit and absolutely anything claiming to be oven-ready and there’s not much left. It could be a quiet Christmas.

Sticking to family matters might be a solution. They’re usually a minefield. Under normal circumstances, anyway. But nothing’s normal now, so where to eat, who to visit, who does the washing up – and are we sure this dried-out, dead bird had a happy life? - seem relatively safe. Depending on how many relatives are round the table.

By normal rule of thumb, I’d resist mentioning the C-word before December. But the lights are on in Carlisle, they’re going on this weekend in my home town, Brampton, and truly awful music is playing on loops in shops. My thumb has been bent backwards. Acknowledgement that it’s coming – without a Coca Cola truck – has been forced.

“You just have to get through it, love...”

My mum, always quite the philosopher at this time of year, gave wise endurance guidance. It was invariably offered when up to her elbows in hot water crust pastry, pheasant and all, for the obligatory game pie nobody actually liked much. Her words still ring true.

Mums have always known best. Prince Andrew will be learning that now – his mother having told him not to throw himself under a BBC bus for prime-time telly.

I know! We weren’t going to speak of him. But it’s not Christmas yet and I’m really rather relishing the idea of the Queen – pinny on and floury hands on hips – smugly preaching: “I told you so! I said it was a bad idea. But do you ever listen to me? You’ll just have to get through it.”

It’s a reassuring domestic picture of family dynamics that’s not easily shaken off. What on earth he’ll find to do now that everyone seems to be dropping him like a hot drumstick is one for the new year. His problem... and how.

I’m no Christmas fan. I’ve said it before and nothing has changed. Can’t say I’m at all bothered about an absence of Coca Cola lorries. John Lewis commercials – along with all other TV store ads – leave me cold. And Black Friday is a nightmare to be avoided.

But it is a time when thoughts turn to those less fortunate than ourselves. If you’re not being psychologically stalked by a mouthy woman who keeps issuing reminders that she knows all your secrets, in the middle of your election campaign, you’re better off than you think – and can be allowed a little snigger.

Traditionally it’s a time for giving. And this is where I suspect I might have landed myself in the doghouse. Giving has taken a diverting turn this year.

The children in my life, or specifically in my extended family’s life, have more than enough stuff and will receive heaps to add to their stash on the day. So, I’ve donated to Cash for Kids instead. On their behalf, you might say – not that they yet know anything about it.

They probably never will. I’m convinced that when parcels are opened by these much-loved, if geographically distant, youngsters already overloaded with advantage, they won’t have a clue from where or whom they came.

Kids with nothing though? They’re different. They deserve to believe that someone somewhere gives a damn about them. Cash for Kids, teamed with CN’s Toy Appeal, aims to do that by giving them something to smile about.

No preaching, No sermonising here, I promise. But if you can spare a bit or pick up an extra gift or two when fighting through Black Friday’s ear-splitting Slade on repeat, it would help them hugely.

Oh and should I go missing for a wee while, post festivities, you’ll know I’m in a doghouse somewhere, trying not to talk about Andrew, Boris, Brexit and women scorned... and sniggering a bit.

I’ll get through it.