That Christmas was probably the only one I ever lost weight. And yet it had all started so normally.
We were at my mum's house, and although we hadn't yet reached the pinnacle of Yuletide gluttony – Christmas Day lunch – we had in the previous days each consumed our body weight in biscuits, cake and chocolate, avidly encouraged by my mother, who patently laboured under the misconception that food either hadn't been invented outside her house or simply wasn't unavailable.
As usual, I had stayed up until all hours watching comedy shows and Christmas specials on TV with my brother while drinking copious amounts of beer, wine, cider and any other alcoholic beverage that dared cross our path, washing these down with crisps and whatever we could raid from the fridge, typically involving pork.
During the day we had spent more time consuming yet more nutritionally superfluous and over-rich foods as if to prove that our bellies were in fact the intestinal equivalent of Dr Who's tardis: far greater inside than they looked from without.
Most Christmases, especially those we spend in France, the increased intake of red wine and decreased intake of water or soft drinks eventually leaves me constipated, unable to squeeze out even the slightest desiccated raisin of a turd to counteract what I am putting into my system. But not that Christmas.
That Christmas, rather than slowing down my digestion, I got the runs. Or rather, to more accurately describe my situation, I got the sprints. For sprint I did. Quickly and often.
It would all start with a gurgling in my stomach. Gently at first, like a string of Coke bubbles rising to the top of my gastric juices. But not too long thereafter, my belly would be churning, much like a pot of water boiling on a stove. This would be followed by a dull and increasingly urgent pain in my belly until, when I was almost ready to double over, it seemed as if someone had pulled the plug on my stomach and the gurgling would rush down and away, taking at least some of the discomfort with it.
Not that this respite was long. For this change was merely a warning to prepare for my next move: a rapid exit stage left, or wherever the nearest toilet happened to be.
This is where Act Two would take place; a brief yet violent piece of domestic theatre involving a frenzied fumbling with belts, buttons and zippers, a rapid lowering of the hind quarters and an opening of the flood gates.
Yes, my bum had learnt to piss. And it completed its business in mere microseconds.
On some occasions, once my panting had subsided, I could wipe, wash and be out of the toilet or bathroom within about 30 seconds of entering. At other times, my recovery was only a momentary lull that merely allowed my bowels to recharge before blasting out another shot of biscuit, cake and chocolate-coloured liquefied biscuit, cake and chocolate.
Coupled with the unseasonably mild temperatures we experienced, my memories of that Christmas were therefore less of "let it snow" than "go with the flow."
After three days and two nights of such dire diarrhoea that I was sure my guts must be completely empty from one end to the other, I decided that it might be wise to take some form of evasive action of a pharmaceutical nature. Not least because I suspected that the toilet flush was getting pressure envy.
The no-name, no-frills product that my mother gave me instructed the user to take one tablet whenever he or she had what it euphemistically described as a "loose motion." Assuming this did not include uncoordinated movement of my limbs or head, I followed the directions figuratively rather than literally.
The effect was as immediate as it was thorough, and within hours the taps had been turned off near-hermetically.
Unfortunately, the accompanying flatulence had not. For I now found myself ballooning on either side of the chemical plug and rushing to the toilet not to defecate, but merely to expel great, belching farts that seemed far too long and comical to be real. But at least I wasn't peeing poop any more.
My intestinal respite was short-lived, however, and within 24 hours I had come full circle, forcing renewed intake of the antimotility meds.
That night, with my bowels once again under control, I dreamt that I squeezed out a series of perfect-consistency sausage-like shits while lying on my side in bed. It was therefore with some alarm that I woke up and checked the bed. Luckily, contrary to the classic going-to-the-toilet dreams that end so damply, this really was a dream.
And that was probably the best present I got that Christmas.