Sunday, 27 December 2009

Only 363 Shopping days until Christmas

It came. It went. It felt like any other day. Only with presents. And cake. And food.

As I’ve said on a previous post here on spotty-bum, Christmas is like waiting to go on a rollercoaster ride while standing in a really long queue. You wait for hours, sometimes longer, everyone around you seems full of anticipation. You step into the carriage. The safety harness comes down. It’s all very exciting.

But then the ride lasts about 30 seconds.

You get off and then, bewildered as you are, you wonder what the fuss was all about.

Then you see the queue and think “Hey! That looks like an exciting ride!” and join up again.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Bah Humbug – Final edition Part 24

Day 24 – People that moan about Christmas

Miserable fuckers. All they do is bring everyone down. “Oh I hate Christmas, it sucks” and “It’s not as good as it used to be”.

Personally, I think by doing away with the whole festive season you would actually do away with these incessant moaners. Sitting there with their bottom lip on the floor. Anyone would think they had wasted a shit load of money on a load of old junk and eaten so much they had to diet for the next three months as a penance.

People like that should count their blessings. It could be worse, they could be in debt, fallen out with family members or some how broke bones when walking in the snow and ice.

I hear that the poor children in Africa aren’t sitting round moaning about the Christmas period. They’re more likely to be moaning that they had corn maize and flies again for dinner.

And then there are those that don’t get irony. They ask for it and all they get is socks. I mean how can you press your shirt and trousers with socks?

Now…does anyone want this strange smelling old Aunt that’s been sat in the corner drinking all the port? Oh and you can take them decorations down now, they make the house look untidy.

Have you kept the receipt?

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Bah Humbug – Part 23

Day 23 – Dinner time

If you are reading this on Blogspot you are missing out on a good poll over in LJland. But basically it is all about what people have for their dinner at Christmas.

However, as you are special specific and a blogspot reader here, as usual, is a special specific festive poem.

I like sprouts
I like carrots
I like gravy
I like parrots (roasted)

I like turkey
I like cheese
I like custard
On my knees

I like sausage
Wrapped in bacon
I like stuffing
With the Paxo make on

Do you like a plate full
For your Christmas meal?
Or would you prefer to watch
Deal or No Deal?

Such questions pose a quandry
With much to consider that’s bland
But best of all for Christmas lunch
I like it all to hand.

Ah thank you

Bah Humbug - part 22

day 22 - giant green radioactive maggots

There is simply just nothing more frustrating about Christmas than giant green radioactive maggots. They're everywhere! I really cannot see the appeal or see any reason why people insist on having them. All they do is ooze slime all over the place and lay eggs in the ears of sleeping people.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Bah Humbug – Part 21

Day 21 – Traffic Chaos

Much akin to the problems with snow, the Christmas period is renown for traffic problems. This year, it seems, is no exception.

If it’s not snow causing gridlock and road closures it’s everyone travelling at once to get from A to B. Traffic jams, slow moving queues and giant maggots blocking motorways, traffic at Christmas can be as taxing as the VAT on presents. Today, it took me 40 minutes to travel my usual 20 minute journey from Brierley to Barnsley. Mostly due to people deciding, quite rightly, to crawl along the snow covered roads at 20mph. Now I wouldn’t usually mind because I am a fairly considerate chap but when I say “snow covered roads” I am exaggerating. It was mush. Mush covered roads. So there was plenty of grip and traction and very little in the way of ice.

I recall one year travelling from Wakefield to Liverpool on the M62 and I saw 8 cars broken down. Foolishly the wife exclaimed “Imagine being broken down on a motorway at Christmas!” just as the Vectra decided that enough was enough and veered toward the hard shoulder. Oh how we laughed as we later ate reheated Christmas dinner all dried up and shrivelled.

And yet a previous year we managed to travel the 80 miles in just under an hour!

This is because, in Britain, if you want to get an idea of what it was like travelling on Motorways in the 1970’s you should set out on a journey on Christmas day. For you will behold how empty the roads can be.

But not to be outdone, this year the good old Christmas demons have pulled out all of the stops. My sojourn to Liverpool this evening has gone the way of the last bus as the exwife in her infinite wisdom went to Eurodisney this weekend.

Now, if you have been hiding under a rock this week or you live in the US, you probably won’t know that the Channel Tunnel (that railway line that connects Britain to the continent) suffered failures and has been closed since Friday night because of the cold. This means the Exwife is now stuck in France, though last I heard they were going to catch a ferry instead. Because of this, my visit to the olds and Liverpool has had to be postponed until tomorrow throwing my plans out by one day boo hiss.

So my effort to thwart the Christmas travel chaos has been….thwarted and tomorrow I face a long drive over the M62 to that jewel in the West coast through yet more ice and loads of trucks and lorries making that last minute Christmas delivery and tonight I spend time in the ever so conversational puss cats. Joy!

Big. Hairy. Monkey. Balls

Bah Humbug – Part 20

Day 20 – Mad Friday

Venturing into Barnsley town centre on the last Friday before Christmas is possibly the stupidest thing to do ever. Unless of course you like thronging crowds of pissed up Yorkshire people vomitting, fighting and being squeezed like sardines into the variety of bars and clubs there are in the metropolitan area.

Personally, I’m glad I didn’t bother. I mean getting jostled about and crammed into bars is not my idea of fun. But be under no illusion. Mad Friday, or Black Friday as it is known in some areas, is a national, if not international, phenomenon.

Seriously, do people like this kind of thing? Is it a new level of socialising I’ve just not grasped? Another example of me doing life wrong?

My idea of fun is sitting in a nice quiet bar, enjoying audible conversation about old toot whilst supping refreshing beers from around the country. Not trying to move my elbow to lift a lukewarm lager to my lips in a sardine tin rugby scrum of buffoons and underdressed ladies whilst my legs ache from trying my best to remain standing in between jostles. Bah. Humbug.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Bah Humbug – Part 19

Day 19 – Nuts

Nothing says Christmas more to me than nuts. I love nuts. Especially walnuts. Hazelnuts are ok, Brazil nuts are a pain in the bum to get out of their shell, peanuts make me snore and almonds…well I can take or leave almonds.

But I love the nuts. Can’t get enough of them.

So why would I include nuts in a grincheque series about Christmas? Surely, if I love nuts I wouldn’t put have written about them. Well…it’s easy…Nuts make me fat. So the easy availability of nuts at Christmas guarantees that I will be a tub of lard by the end of January. Not only that, but the excessive amounts of peanuts, which I can’t help but scoff down, means that I will snore and wake the entire county of South Yorkshire.

Admittedly that’s not a strong enough reason to include nuts as a bad thing about Christmas, especially as I’ve got a love for nuts. But to be honest. I wrote “Nuts” down for my reminder for todays post and I haven’t the foggiest what it was I was going to gripe about….

Now where are them walnuts…..

Friday, 18 December 2009

Bah Humbug – Part 18

Day 18 – Snow

Though not entirely a Christmassy thing snow is one of those things that really irritate about the season. Well…maybe not the snow…But the British reaction to snow….that’s a different matter entirely.

A case in point was last night. All this week the news on the telly and radio has been “ZOMG TEH SNOWZ0RZ A COMING!”. You would think the world was preparing for a famine or a war or something. Not just a little dusting of snow.

Of course the vast majority of the snow landed and settled in the South East of England. For those unfamiliar with British Geography, the South East is where the busy parts of the country are. Mostly London and Kent and other associated areas.

Now if you were any right minded individual you would think “Oh in such a metropolitan area I should expect that a little bit of snow would pose no problem to infrastructure.” Well…yes…you would. But no. You would be foolishly wrong to suggest such a thing, and those that normally do not listen to your wise wise words would have perversely listened to every word and inflection you spoke and mock you for being incorrect. People would point at you in the street and old ladies would giggle childishly as you walked past. As they do.

Last night it snowed. The Breakfast news on BBC this morning (Today presented by Charlie “I need to go on a presenters course” Stayt and Susanna “Today I’m dressed up like a turkey in this silver top” Reid) had nothing but “ZOMG! SNOWZ0RZ” and “ZOMG TIS TEH END OF WORLD” and “ZOMG SNOW WE’RE ALL DO0M3D”.

Now, had I been a foolish person, which I assure you I am not, I might have thought that by going outside I would be putting my own life at risk and the lives of emergency services too. I should stay at home as the media suggest, barrage my doors and windows and survive on the 30 year old tin of self warming baked beans I have in my larder. But one glance out of the windows of Gnomepants Manor would have told any person of sense that the snow in this part of the world was “small potatoes” compared to previous years and one would have said “Bunch of southern poofs” in reaction to the fuss being made by the people on the telly.

To be fair though, the snow “down south” was fairly deep comparatively and yes, Tarquin Posh-Bastard would probably have been flapping at the prospect of getting snow on his brogues and disgusted that his pre-Christmas round of Golf with the board of directors would have to be cancelled. But with Tarquin’s woes aside, the fuss….well it was a bit too much. Considering.

Anyway, it is generally accepted that where there is Christmas there should be snow. Is this because we can gaze safely from the comfort of our centrally heated house comforted in the knowledge that nobody really goes out on Christmas day or is it something more traditional and sinister?

Who knows. I suspect there is something sinister behind it. Probably involving the secret government weather machine and insiduous enforced iconography of snow. But what ever it is, it’s nothing I am able to put my finger on at the moment….

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Bah Humbug – Part 17

Day 17 – Birthdays

Now those that profess to knowing me in a personal capacity will know that today is my birthday. Now what has this got to do with Christmas you may ask, well don’t ask me….ask the many other people that suffer the unfortunate circumstance of being born in December or during the Christmas period.

It’s not like we were in the womb and decided “I know, if I come out at Christmas I’ll get twice as much presents!”. No. Far from it. In fact, it’s more of a pain in the arse than you might think. Now, I’ve already pontificated about this situation in the past on Livejournal so if you want to read that you’ll just have to look in the archives. But the key issue remains the same.

A case in point is…this week I have received more cards through the post than in the entire month of December. In fact, the cards I have got this month all arrived this week. Now, some forward thinkers know about this problem for me and mark their envelopes with either CHRISTMAS or BIRTHDAY so that I can differentiate between cards. Others, not so forward thinking.

In fact there are those who try to save themselves the cost of a stamp by shoving the christmas card in with the birthday card.

Now forgive me if this is not how you do birthdays….but what I understood was that birthdays should be celebrated on the anniversary of the day of your birth…Is that right? So like if I was to send you a card for your birthday 2 weeks before your birthday, would you not find it a bit odd? Or a bit strange to have a birthday card already on display days ahead of your birthday?

Surely the enjoyment of birthdays comes from opening cards from people who remember you…

Of course it is not just about cards. The presents count too. Ask any person born around this time and they’ll tell you the same thing, they get told “Oh I’d have bought you a birthday present but it’s Christmas soon and so you’ll just have to have a bigger present then”. Thing is, come Christmas you don’t get anything more than other people.

I know it’s worse for people born ON Christmas day…I mean just think how the poor suspiciously Caucasian infant Christ felt. Every year he’d get told “Here have some presents” and then told “It’s christmas so I’ve had to double up” or “You can have a birthday or a christmas present but not a birthday present”. He must have felt absolutely left out…no wonder he went round upsetting Pharisees and Romans….a life time of shit birthdays is enough to piss anyone off.

So think about how Christmas is crap for people born around this time of year. Give them something extra special…Remember those born on the actual day…and instead of celebrating Christmas…Celebrate their birthday instead. Just imagine what your own birthday would be like if everyone got presents and you had a big celebratory meal. Of course the pubs tend to be closed but you can’t have everything now can you….

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Bah Humbug - Part 16

Hope you're still enjoying this series.

Day 16 - Time and anticlimax

A weird thing happens. I think it starts at puberty but it could develop later on in life. I'm not talking about facial hair here.

So when you're little, Christmas day feels like it goes on for a week. But somewhere in your lifetime something happens and Christmas day ends up feeling like 5 minutes long. Yet, in reality, the day is only 24 hours long. It's really weird. Am I the only one that's noticed this?

I suppose the old adage, "Time flies when you're having fun" applies here, but trust me, I don't always have fun at Christmas and it still feels like five minutes. Maybe it's the prechristmas build up. The weeks upon weeks upon weeks of "Buy this before we sell out" and "Get your Christmas stuff here" and "ZOMGOMG AM SO EXCITEDZ0RZ @ XMIZ!" that add to the whole "Is it bed time yet? What do you mean it's only 10am!" thing. Maybe it's the opposite, I don't know.

I do know that Christmas always feels like a "Is that it?!" kind of thing. Do you know what I mean? Maybe you don't. Maybe you do. Either way, I'll give a comparison. You know them big scary rides at theme parks? The ones where the queue snakes round the park? The ones where you can expect to queue up for an hour before you even get to see the turnstile? By the time you've got to the last safety gate you're like "ZOMG!" and you're so excited you feel like if you pee you might piss out a kidney. Then you get on the ride and just as you're opening your mouth to go "Yaayyy" it's over and you're like "Was that it?" It can be such a come down.

I suppose it might be because in some places I've worked I've had the whole work right up to the last minute of Christmas eve then come in again first thing Boxing day. I've even worked in places where coming in on a Christmas day went on a rotational basis. But working at the Universities and in the Civil service where you get a nice free 2 week holiday didn't make the feeling of Christmas anticlimax go away. Those two weeks just felt like a week.

Even one year, 2003 I think, I managed to manipulate my annual leave to allow me a whole month off work because of the way bank holidays fell that year. Even then, it only felt like I'd had five minutes out. I suppose relativity has something to do with it and no doubt the whole "fun" thing too.

But yeah....time at Christmas...where does it go?

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Bah Humbug – Part 15

Day 15 – The Fat Man in the Red Babygrow

Let’s say you have children. Let’s say they tell you there’s a weird fat bloke in a red baby grow that comes to them and tells them if they are good they can have toys. They tell you he comes to their room at night and he gets in through the chimney.

You’d call social services.

Well wouldn’t you?

Well I would hope you would. Or call the police at least.

Why is it fine to have a fat stranger with a babygrow fetish come to children once a year, threaten them and give them toys when in normal circumstances this would be frowned upon?

evil corporate santa returns Worse still, he tells them he comes from the North Pole and yet he bares no resemblance to Nanook or any other Innuit tribe member.

Surely this man is deranged. A paedophile, a creep, a suspicious character.

Worse still is when you find out he is financially backed by global toothrotting megacorp Coca-Cola. Surely that should set alarm bells ringing.

I blame him for all the evils of Christmas. The greed, the avarice, the sloth and the lust (have you ever seen them cute students dressed in sexy “Santa’s little helper” costumes? mmmmmmm). And yet people decorate their houses with effigies and portraits of him. He has been slowly crossing the globe like some slow acting dictator from a Consumerist capitalist state. Karl Marx would probably be rotating so fast in his grave that Groucho and Zeppo would be trying to get out of his way

It’s quite simple to break this spell. When you go outsatan_claus and about this week, whenever you see a picture or effigy of the fat man in red, mentally change the image to that of say…Fidel Castro…or…George W Bush….or….Nicolae Ceaucescu…and you’ll soon see what I am on about. Not only has the fat man’s image replaced that of the Christ child and his cosy little pre-nuclear family, the Green Man, the Christkind and the Happy Badger, but he is slowly warping the minds of children everywhere. Promising them items of value in exchange for their very souls….

And people don’t do a thing about it….

Monday, 14 December 2009

Bah Humbug - part 14

Day 14 - books

Getting a good book at Christmas was once one of the highlights of the year. People who bought me books as gifts used to put a lot of thought into buying a book. Some gems I've received over the years include timeless classics such as The witches handbook , haunted inns and mysteries of the sea. It was clear that people that knew me knew what subjects interested me and would contemplate which cool would be liked the most.

Of course, as I became older and my hair got thinner my interests broadened and my library became stuffed with books that only held a passing interest. Curious really as bookshops became better stocked and Amazon allowed shoppers more choice.

Of course, since Borders saw off the smaller booksellers and is now going the way of Woolworths I suspect the days of the "christmas book gem" will go the way of the round christmas pudding.

This saddens me, especially as I know the only books W H Smith sell are celebrity biographies and amusing trifles which tend to be read once and then sold at a car boot sale and most of the people I know in RL are intimidated by Blackwells and Waterstones.

So I suppose this entry is more of a lament than a moan about something that annoys me about Christmas. Will my stocking contain Gordon Burns' autobiography? Or will it have 1001 amusing uses for a spoon? Who knows? What I do know is it won't contain a pictoral history of Yorkshire pit villages or a guide to making your own steam engine.

Or perhaps it will. One last time.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Bah Humbug – Part 13

Do you really need this preamble?

Day 13 – Christmas Trees

When I was a kid….wait..have you noticed how most of these posts refer to moments when I was a child? Hmmm…patterns….

Yeah…as I was saying. When I was younger, every year my dad would go up the ladder into the loft and get the musty old boxes filled with decorations. One of those boxes contained a green plastic tree which you would put together bit by bit. It was state of the art. Cutting edge. Made in Taiwan.

There was another tree in the house. This was a silver flu brush, wire draped with silver tinsel. It would be placed in the porch draped with fairy lights. My Nan had a similar one, only hers was green tinsel.

When the exwife and I spent our first Christmas together we had a tree which was one of those put them together ones, a bit like the one my olds had. This tree did us several years until the great cat-astrophic Christmas of 2005 when we considered it wise not to bother putting it up again.

Anyway, trees…now if at any other time of the year someone went out to chop down a tree and bring it into their house you would probably call social services. I mean, why bother? They’re usually full of spiders and creepies anyway and having a whopping great lump of foliage that’s going to drop needles all over the carpet is hardly going to do the vacuum cleaner any good is it?

I mean I can understand the plastic ones and the flue brush ones but why people take real ones in in this day and age I have no idea. “Oh but stegzy it’s so much more than that, it is aesthetic”.  Well what a load of cock. If having to trap spiders and other creepies is aesthetic why don’t you just nip out to the garden and scoop a few up from underneath the rockery and sprinkle them liberally around your front room. Then, while you’re at it, grab a few leaves and pine needles if they are at hand and scatter them about too. You’ll soon have that authentic Christmassy feel.

Bah Humbug – Part 12

Spamming flist…blah blah blah…should have done more…blah blah….doing uni work is no excuse…blah blah.

Day 12 – Midnight mass

Ok, I doubt a lot of you will have experienced this. But this is the 4th post of the day and I’m struggling with ideas.

Anyway, when I lived in the family home, it was written into the tenancy agreement (the one you sign by being born) that as long as you live under that roof you are to go to midnight mass with your mum.

Now to the non-catholics out there, midnight mass is like ringing someone up at midnight on the day of their birthday just to say “Happy Birthday”. God, is no doubt, very pissed off by this.

Anyway, my mam would say “Right, put down the Radio Times, it’s time for mass. This would always be at about 11pm. It would take half an hour to walk through the freezing mid winter cold and up the slippy icey hill, through the village and into the church which would already be filling with the well to do families keen to make an impression on the omnipotent one that they were there to say happy birthday to the lad.

Since then, well ok, during that time, I began to realise what this annual event was. It wasn’t a sudden need to praise the deity. It was an annual call to parade. Well-to-do village families would gather outside, dressed up in their smartest having just rolled up in their Jags with the arse warming seats and they would swank about showing everyone how they were guaranteed a place in the afterlife because they were the epitome of holiness once a year.

The parade was just a show of well-to-do-ness and my mother liked to swank about and show them all that she was a council estate girl that had made good. Seeing past the other swanker’s executive statuses and community roles and she would hold her head high, with her youngest child there to back her up and show those toffs that Betty Gnomepants was just as good as them.

After some out of tune caterwauling from the choir and some mutterings from Father Tom Wood, it would end up being something like 1am and it would be time to make the arduous journey back down the slippery hill through the ice and biting fog. But before that, there would be more milling about in the church carpark as the posh and the poor would compete in this show of grandeur.

Them – well my Tarquin has just done his A levels and got straight A’s and is off to Oxfart in his own BMW which he bought through saving up his paper round money.
My Mam – Yes but he still wets the bed doesn’t he?

These days, of course, because I don’t live there anymore I am allowed to not bother going to midnight mass with my mum. Especially as she’s approaching 75 now and I’m living about 80 miles away. But every year I ask how the midnight mass was. Who she saw, what they said and how their children are.

Of course the well to do all sold up when their house prices reached £1mill back in the early-mid noughties and have all fucked off to Barbados or somewhere. But my mam, bless her, she still goes up and down that hill every Christmas eve…just to show off that she’s better for staying round in her semi….the council estate girl that made it good.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Bah Humbug 11

Day 11 – Relatives

Now, I have to be careful here as rellies might one day read this for themselves. Therefore, see the disclaimer at the bottom of this post.

Just who is that mysterious woman?

That’s what I ask myself every year. Every year she is there. Sat in the corner. Drinking the house dry of port and yet nobody else seems to notice her. It’s probably Mrs Edson. Though I suspect it might be the mother of the grinning emaciated man that sits at the end of my bed just grinning. Or perhaps FJ Warren projecting astrally.

Well it’s not me al mam. She’s always too busy fussing in the kitchen, my grand parents are all dead and unless it’s Cousin Sally or one of the wives of my brothers, she’s probably just someone in my imagination.

Anyway, relatives. They’re like buses really. You can wait all year for one then seven of them turn up on Christmas day.

To be fair, it pleases me to see rellies at Christmas as for most of the year I don’t get to see any of them. To be just, I must also add that they don’t all turn up on Christmas day.

In times past, in the Gnomepants manse, Christmas would be a “relative safari”. We would wake Christmas morn, have prezzies, have dinner, then drive round to the grandparents for Christmas there. Then the following day, we would be inundated with more rellies then we’d sod off to Auntie Pat’s for more relative mixings in her house behind the toxic paint factory. (I can still remember the smell of that factory. Her house has long since been demolished and Pat and her husband succumbed to the noxious paint fumes even longer ago).

Then, as rellies started carking it, Christmases changed. They would be Gnomepants centric. We would just be sitting down for dinner and the doorbell would always ring. You could guarantee it would be a relative to see my elderly grand parents (both my nans, who by this time were widowed would come to the Gnomepants Homestead rather than spend it alone in their respective houses in the middle of council Hell).

So yes. You were just pulling up the chair and there would be Uncle Fred and the spawn grinning and full of cheer. The turkey would be shoved back into the oven and we would have to pretend that we sat around the dining table anyway. And that we weren’t about to eat and by no way would they be disturbing us.

Was this a surreptitious attempt at trying to get a free dinner out of my old mum? Or was there something more sinister? Like dropping off that strange old smelly Aunt that sits in the corner drinking the house dry of port?  I have my suspicions.

Anyway. An hour would pass and I imagine the sound of our rumbling bellies and the sight of eyes that say “Fuck off” caused them to make their excuses and so we would turn our attentions back to the meal that was now dried and withered and resembling something from the night before. Of course, the dinners will have their own post in the next few weeks so let’s not loiter in that area for too long.

The point I’m getting at is somehow, at Christmas, relatives develop this radar and know when to appear at the most inconvenient moment. Worse still, they somehow manage to eat all the chocolates, make dinners go cold and end up drinking more port than is humanly possible.

Of course it’s not limited to immediate family. Sometimes you’ll just be about to nibble a prawn and mum will come in, whisk away your prawn cocktail and then run to the door to welcome in some relative you’ve never even heard of. Ohhhhhh it’s great Aunt Fenella! Oh you haven’t seen me since I was 2? That’s nice. Yes of course I’ve changed I’m 35 now. What’s that? Port? Yes sure I’ll get you a glass. No you’re not disturbing our dinner. We always sit round the dining table…burning? No that’s just the cat…

DISCLAIMER – Names and relations have been changed to protect the status quo of family relations. Some,if not all, of the events in this post are or may be fictitious. If you think anything in this post is about you, then you are probably very wrong and you should pay a penance by buying me a nice pair of socks for thinking I would be as callous as the person you obviously think I am for writing defamatory comments about you on a public post. So yes. Socks. Black please. With coloured toes. Or I’ll tell someone about that thing you did with the thing.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Bah Humbug – Part 10

You see what happens when you get behind in blogging….I’ve had to do the same on LJ too you know…

Day 10 – Kids

Yes, I know I was one once. But when I was a kid, you sat in the corner, kept quiet and got made a fuss of by that strange smelly Auntie that sat in the corner getting slowly pissed on port.

These days, I’m told “Christmas is for the Children”.

I’ve got news.


Its for everyone. Why do children always get preferential treatment?

When I was a kid, I’d be happy with a hoop, a stick and a sock full of satsumas. These days it’s Wii this, Playstation that, I want this, I want that, Gimme gimme gimme. Whinge whinge whinge. Ungrateful little shits.

They have no experience or love of the TV guide hunt. They’ve never even been sent to bed at 8pm and told if they wake up before 9am their presents will turn to dust. Spoilt they are.

They don’t even have to suffer a thousand pensioners groping their tussled curls and being told they would have girls queuing up round the corner for them. It’s like the Christmas they experience is a pastiche of the Christmases they should experience. Worse still, is when they eat all the sweets and chocolates and end up running round like excitable little wasps for three hours.

My niece, 6 year old Charlotte, bless her, is the centre of attention at my mum and dad’s house at Christmas these days. She gets to open her presents first. She always seems to get more presents than me too. She doesn’t have to suffer the annual relation safari until Boxing day. She has no experience of the smelly odd looking aunt in the corner either. Instead, her Christmas day is one of presents, presents, food, presents and more presents.

Jealous? Me? No…but, as you will see on the 17th day, I have my reasons…..

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Bah Humbug - Part 9

Blah Blah blah, to finish essays, blah blah hiatus blah blah sorry blah fish blah blah bumsex blah Christmas.

Day 9 – Christmas TV

There was a time when I would rush out to the newsagent and buy copies of the Christmas editions of TV Times and Radio Times.

These were days long ago when in the UK we were so poor we only had 3 TV channels. Of course, when this went up to 4 channels that didn’t stop the annual trip to the newsagent for the magazines. Gosh no.

So, once I had the television listings in my hands I would pour over each day looking to see what was going to be shown that festive period and highlight the programmes I would watch, carefully colour coded so that lime green would be “watch” and hot pink would be “video tape”.

Of course these were the days before DVD, the internet and being able to stay up late (Yes, there was such a time).

I remember being awed at the choice of excellent programming, the dilemma of do I watch this or do I watch that and the awful paradox of having to decide what to do if four programmes were on at the same time.

Those days went in 2001.

Television programming started to suffer in the UK and the choice of “Do I watch the fiftieth repeat of Back to the Future” or “Do I watch that episode of Only Fools and Horses where Del Boy falls through the bar for the 90th time” got tiring. TV listings had lost their sparkle.

These days I don’t bother. A lot of this stems from having to work over the Christmas period and missing all the great films and stuff because I was at work but it is also the fault of TV stations for not showing anything more compelling than the Doctor Who Christmas Special.  In fact, if it wasn’t for the Doctor Who Christmas Special the telly probably wouldnt go on at Christmas.

My brothers still do this annual habit. I’m pleased to say I have out grown it, or maybe I have matured enough to realise that Del Boy falling through the bar is not funny anymore. Nor is watching family breakdowns on Eastenders  compelling enough. Has it really come to this? Has TV really had its day? Will generations to follow simply look to see what the latest government approved Youtube upload is? Or what?

I cannot recall I time when I’ve seen something advertised on the Christmas listings as something I must not miss. Even this year, with the choices of Abba The Movie,  Gladiator, and the thousandth showing of Speed I am frankly underwhelmed.

I suppose there’s always Del Boy falling through the bar….

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Bah Humbug Part 8

Blah Blah blah, to finish essays, blah blah hiatus blah blah sorry blah fish blah blah bumsex blah Christmas.

Day 8 – Office Parties

Possibly the most loathsome thing about Christmas….is the office parties.  God I hated them. Fortunately being a lazy student, I don’t have to suffer “office parties”.

However it was not always like this. My first office party was one when I worked at Halfords as a spotty teen. It was at a hotel in the centre of Liverpool and basically involved getting fed, then very drunk, dancing like twat and ending up feeling £50 lighter.

It was fun. For an uninitiated youth.

The following years were similar fayre. Conveyor belted Christmas food, too much drink and failed attempts at trying to gain the affections of Cheryl Crotty. 

There then followed several years of where I worked  Christmas parties. By worked I mean I served at a bar where there were at least 5 Christmas parties a week. That was arduous. Watching drunken proffesionals embarrass themselves dancing and trying to gain the affections of Cheryl Crotty.

Without giving an indepth breakdown of Christmas parties of the past, I soon realised what a hellish thing the office Christmas party was. I would sooner share a bath with twelve randy tramps than go to another office Christmas party.

Office Christmas parties are big money. Sure they’re good for schmoozing and even better if you’re trying to gain the affections of Cheryl Crotty. But when you get under the bonnet all they are are a handy little money spinner for local hotels and function suites.

Remember the mass served often cold flacid Christmas dinner? The god awful cheapo crackers? The urgent need to try and get yourself sat next to someone who isn’t going to talk shop all night or make you wish you’d sat at the other end of the table where they’re always having more fun? Recall the dreadful looped Christmas muzak as Jona Lewis sings about that fucking cavalry again?

Don’t forget the awfulness of having to socialise with a group of people you pray you never see ever again when you finally leave your place of employment. Nor the frightful bollocks you have to put up with when the new starter or office junior tries to cop off with you because Cheryl Crotty has told them to fuck off.

Then the horror of having to find a cab…in the dark…and realising you’ve drunk far too much….

Why do people bother?

Monday, 7 December 2009

Bah Humbug – Part 7

Blah blah, moan about Christmas, blah blah another gem blah blah blah swallowed up into cyberspace blah blah should get published blah blah fish cakes blah.

Day 7 – Symbolism

If you are reading this on Blogspot you might miss the following interactive bit. If you are on LJ you can pretend to have read the whole thing and just fill in the poll.

But just for you Blogspot person. Here is a poetic intermission

I have got a box of chocolates

I’ve eaten all the nuts

I’ve eaten all the caramels

And all I hear is tuts

The reason why is clear to see

The soft centered ones

Disagree with me

And so I munch on the chewy

And hide the little menu.

Christmas eh….Are you fed up with it yet? I am. What really annoys me is the modern trend for the iconisation of fat men in red, candles, snowmen and puddings.

Because this issue is a big one, let me just go through each symbol and why it offends me.

Big Fat Men in Red –  Any other time of year, if someone put up posters of a  big fat man in red pyjamas the social services would probably be very concerned. Unless of course the person in question had some weird fat guy in tramp_master_361x470pyjama’s fetish, in which case you’d probably let them off just so you could mock them.  Why big jovial fat men? Why not skinny women with their tits out? I mean that’s just as festive…Isn’t it? Well, maybe that’s just town centre Barnsley on a Thursday night.

It’s easy really. If it was Jesus who, in legend, went round the houses popping sweeties and gifts into socks on his birthday then I imagine we’d have given up the idolatry of the fat guy before he even got his arms into the sleeves of his red coat. But our love for freebies and material goods mean that the bearded skinny guy with the holes in his extremities doesn’t get a look in. Really, what we should do is do away with the fat bearded guy and have pictures of our parents up about the place. Of course if your parents were evil, dead or anti-Christmas then you probably won’t, so instead maybe you could opt for pictures of another parental surrogate. The Kween and Prince Fillup maybe?

Regardless, the fat guy is bad, unhealthy and out dated symbolism, which, really, deserves it’s own post. Maybe on Day 8.

Round puddings with holly stuck in the top

Do you know? In my life, I’ve never ever ever ever11954455011667086046karderio_Christmas_pudding.svg.hi seen a round Christmas pudding. I’ve seen a pudding basin shaped one. I’ve seen one in the shape of a Christmas tree. But never a round one.

Now I’m sure people like FJ Warren will say “Oh when I was living in a shoe box while eating gravel and trying to keep warm round granddad’s phlegm during the poor times we used to have round Christmas puddings!”. Yes, I’m quite sure you did. But in this day and age of plastics, tin foil and basins, puddings tend to be basin shaped.

Besides, what about those people, like me, who find Christmas pudding abhorrent? Are we allowed to put up festive picture of ice cream everywhere? No we’re fucking not. Instead we have to put up with imagery of foul tasting brandy drenched mush. Well I don’t like it and I won’t have it. And if you think I’m staying sat at this table while everyone else finishes theirs, well you can think again, cos I’m going to my room to sulk.

Snow scenes, Snowmen and snow flakes – Do you know? I cannot remember the last time I saw asnow2 real snowman or for that matter a real snow flake of a Christmas. Now  I know people like Zelest and Kingdavey will probably be shoulder deep in wintery goodness now. But here in the UK, I think I’ve only ever seen about 2 white Christmases in my 35 years. I could be wrong. So instead, lets do away with snowmen all together and the snowflake, well that can fuck off too, let’s have rain drops instead, because it’s always sodding raining in the UK.

Stars and Candles – What the fig are they about? Yeah I know the three nomadic oriental typeschristmas_candle followed a star, but they were obviously sniffing too much myrrh or frankincense. Besides, I see stars all year round. Likewise candles. I used to see candles at Christmas too, but they were mostly on my birthday cake or on the table because there was a power cut. Now I see them all year round. I fail to see the symbolism still relevant.


Presents – Yeah ok. I suppose the wrapping up of unwanted presentsgifts still hold some symbolism. Besides, big corporations would prefer the subversive subliminal symbolism of consumeristic iconography. Now I’ve seen a few socks knocking about the place, I think they’re supposed to be stockings, you know the type you hang on the mantle, but actually, the shift is toward socks because, as everyone knows, you get socks at Christmas. It’s the law.

Fat farting Aunt that sits in the corner drinking port  

No…I haven’t seen them either.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Bah Humbug – Part 6

Well, if you’ve been reading since day 1 you know the drill…..of course you could save time and look at the one I did in 2005

DAY 6 – Gifts

I remember spending lots of time thinking about it. I had enjoyed reading it myself and thought that it would appeal to my brother’s sardonic wit. I’d browsed bookshops looking for another copy and gave up and got one off Amazon. He was going to love this, I thought.


He absolutely hated it. So much so, as the amusing knob sock he is, he wrapped it up for me the following year and gave it back. This, he told me, was what he was going to do each year.


Of course such an example is extreme. But up and down the country and throughout the globe many suffer silently as, yet again, someone thoughtfully but thoughtlessly gives an unwanted gift. Be it aftershave, perfume or cosmetics for someone with allergies, to socks or gloves for an amputee. The reason for this? Well it’s simple. Nobody actually likes shopping for presents for other people. Especially when no thought goes into the purchase at all.

For example, let me try to imagine how your average Christmas gift buying session goes.

You – Hmmm I must buy **insert relative here** something….what is there? Hmmm Tinned prunes? No…How about a nice spatula? No…did that last year…..Gift voucher? Too practical……Oh bugger, that shop is full…look at the queue there! Blimey! She’s a bit fat….Oh shit it’s him from that place….hide….It’s ok they’ve fucked off elsewhere…Now what was I going to get? ….oh bugger…I can’t find anything…oh what's this? Ah I know…Socks! :D

Close? Thought so. You can spend hours trawling shops looking for that one thing you think they might like, or worse, what they have asked for. And still you will end up getting something without too much thought. Let’s rewind a bit…..tib a dniwer s’teL. thguoht hcum oot tuohtiw gnihtemos gnitteg pu dne lliw uoy llits dnA. rof deksa evah yeht tahw, **play** What they have asked for.


Surely this defeats the object of a gift. If I asked for…I dunno…a Maclaren F1. Would I get it? No. I wouldn’t.

Christmas 70's 001

A result of not asking and getting; Seventies style

My Granddad used to say to me, “Ask don’t get, Don’t ask don’t want". It was like some weird mantra he used to say. Clearly he was a stonebonker but in those paradoxical words are the root of all solutions to the worlds problems. ASK don’t get – exactly. If you ask, you don’t get. Or you shouldn’t. In this consumerist world we ask and we get. Most of the time. Want a house? Ask an estate agent. Want help paying your bills, ask a customer service person and they’ll usually do what they can (though this is often not as much as you want them to do). Regardless, to me at least, asking beats the point. Gifts should be things you don’t expect, or things which can be cherished.

So like buying a box of cheese or beers or aftershave is not really conducive to gift giving. I can buy beers, cheese and aftershave whenever I feel like (providing the shop is open). Furthermore, I have more socks than I have grains of talcum powder. So probably the last thing I need is socks and aftershave in a special specific cheesy beer gift set. I should be able to look at a gift and say “Oh so-and-so bought me that back in 1990 and I still get a good use out of it”. Of course that is not an excuse to buy tat. Sure my ceramic Tardis cookie jar is a good ornament, but really, it’s clutter. As is the Cyberman helmet. In fact, clothes are equally a bad idea. Yes theoretically they will last a fair while depending on their quality, and yes I am grateful for my Cat boots my olds bought me 3 Christmases ago. But when those boots are worn through and full of holes, what then? Do I cling onto them because they were a gift? You see, when I buy a gift, I’d rather the person I buy the gift for keep hold of the gift forever. Look at it and think of me. Smile and think “Aww Stegzy bought me that.”


Chuffin’ Denim? Again?

This revelation, again like one St Paul might have had, struck me when for the umpteenth year my olds asked me what I wanted for Christmas. The fact that, at that time, I could, theoretically, afford most of the things I wanted (excepting a Maclaren F1) whenever I wanted kind of made me stuck for an answer. What do you say when you have everything?

So I told them. I said how I felt about the word WANT. I said how the whole concept of Christmas made me feel isolated and wasteful, I also said that, if they truly wanted to, they could get me something but, it had to be something with a message. Something which I can cherish and look at and say “My mum and dad bought me that” something that a lot of thought had gone into.

I got a Terramundi Piggy Bank that year.

I still have it. I still use it. It’s great. Every time I look at it I think “Aww my mum and dad bought me that” and I feel all cosy and warm and loved.  Then I look around my room as I type this and I look at the various other things, mostly gifts, I have accumulated over the years. With the exception of Malcolm Bird’s Witches Handbook (my favourite Aunt bought me it when I was 10) , the Tardis cookie jar (my eldest brother got me for Christmas following my ultimatum that gifts should require thought not want) and the T Shirt bought for me by that special specific person in my life the rest of them, I have no recollection if they are gifts and who bought them for me.


I’m not ungrateful. Far from it. I am heart renderingly grateful for all the gifts and things I have had over the years. But my point is, only a very small minority of them remind me of the person who gave the gift. An even smaller minority still exist in one form or another, and the vast majority are only still in existence because you cannot eat, wear or spray onto the skin.

Unfortunately, Christmas has become an oversized mega orgy of consumerism. We must go forth and purchase anything. Wrap it in paper. Give it to someone who then unwraps it, pretends to like it, then takes it back to the shop for a refund. Or, it gets looked at for an hour, then left to collect dust on a shelf until the house clearance people come to take away the cadaver’s belongings.

So, this year, if it is not too late. Maybe to recapture that little bit of Christmas spirit and enjoy the magic of actually giving an accepted gift. Put some thought into what you are buying. Think about the person. Think what would they like that would remind them of you forever and ever (or until the Alzheimer's sets in). Then get them gift vouchers.

Bah Humbug – Day 5

Rather than actually do some work…yaddayaddayadda. Background noone is arsed about yadda yadda yadda …..blah blah. Christmas blah.

Day 5 – Christmas Music

It is fortunate to live in Gnomepants manor at this time of year. Especially as the house looks dark and spooky without the lights on outside. Moreover, there is no doorbell on the front door and you have to sneak down a passage to get to the tradesman's entrance.

Why is this fortuitous?

Friday, 4 December 2009

Bah Humbug – Part 4

Despite having shit loads of Uni work, I thought I would try and do a series of posts each day about the bahhumbuggness of Christmas to go with my new seasonal background.

Day 4 – Cards

Every year I feel sorry for the postman. Down the lane with no name he comes bumbling. His sack laden with cards. I feel I have to hold my hands up here. I was once a victim of the Christmas card bug, as many long term LJ Flisters will remember. Sending cards was as much a part of getting into the Christmas spirit as drinking mulled wine and munching mince pies.

Every year I would compile a list. I'd check it twice. To find out who was naughty (by not sending me a card the previous year) and who was nice (those that did). I would go into town and spend loads on postage. Then, the year before last it struck me. Who the hell really gives a stuff about me sending cards? It was like I was sending them out of habit. Most of the people on my card list I had no interaction with and frankly I couldn't give a stuff whether they had a good Christmas or not. evilpud


My mum was the same and still is. Every year, about this time, she will spend evening after evening scribbling addresses and filling in cards from a bumper bargain box to send out to people she really had no connection with. Each year I would stand admiring the walls that became increasingly covered with cards.

Stegzy - Who's Mary McGuire?

Mum - Oh I used to nurse her father (my mum retired from Nursing about 7 years ago)
Stegzy - And who's Bill and Jill Smith?
Mum - Oh I once sat next to them on the tram back from the Pier Head back in 1953
Stegzy - And what about Sandra and the cats?
Mum - I think she used to be a friend of someone I once sold a raffle ticket to, but I can't be sure.

It became clear to me that my mum didn't actually have a clue who half of these people were. But, true to form she would send cards to them every year. I would often try to imagine what it would be like in their house holds
Bill Smith - Eh up, we got another card of that Betty Gnomepants.
Jill Smith - Oh bugger, I thought she'd not bother this year, pass us that box of cheap cards from Oxfam and I'll write her one up now.
Bill Smith - Who is she again?
Jill Smith - Fucked if I know

So again, like St Paul, I was struck with an astounding revelation. Who gives a stuff if I send them a card? Actually, come to think of it, why do I need to send family a card either? It's not like anyone would wish someone a miserable arse sucking Christmas is it? So by default, you can assume I wish people a happy and peaceful festive celebration without debt, arguments and cholesterol. Though there are a few people that I would and I imagine they think the same about me. Indeed, there really is no need for me to pay money for bits of gaily coloured card to wish family a happy Christmas when I see them over that period usually anyway. It's like wishing it again. Which, in my book, is over egging the nog. 3sproutsAnd so, again, this year, the sending of Christmas cards is not happening for me. Already, people are showing their distaste at me not sending cards by not sending me any. Mrs Gnomepants, the wife from whom I am separated, gets cards on an increasingly daily basis addressed to her, and yet I get nothing addressed to me but bills and threats of stick waving.

Now don't get me wrong, I get no displeasure from not sending cards. Quite the opposite. I get the warm glow that I am not contributing to my carbon weighting buy using card that is made from recycled paper. I feel safe in the knowledge that the Posties hernia was not caused by my fan mail. Indeed, I am comfortable with the awareness that I wish no ill to people all year round and no ill especially during their festive period. I am however conscious that some people will think of me as a miserable old cunt that is too cheap to send out cards. But far from it. It is not me, but those that gauge their narcissistic popularity by how many cards they receive. Moreover, these same people probably are concerned with how many Facebook friends they have. Well bless their black narcissistic cotton socks.


And so a short cut. For those that think by my not sending cards I am some how snubbing their special specific day....have a mooch round. See if you can find one of the cards I sent on previous years (What do you mean you've recycled them already?! Do you know how much hard work went into making them cards??) and prop it up on your mantelpiece, desk or wherever and pretend I've sent you it again. Of course, there are those who may have already disposed of the card I sent all those years back and there are those who I have never sent a card to. So to get round this, let's come to a compromise. I'll dig out an unused card. I'll write "Happy Christmas With Love from **insert your name here**" and prop it up on my mantlepiece and I'll pretend it was sent by you to me. here's the biggy....YOU WILL DO THE SAME FOR ME. Then, come January when I'm chucking stuff out, I'll box that card up, and I'll fish it out again next year. Unless, of course, you state that you wish me an unpleasant Christmas with worms and maggots and debt and shit some how, in which case I will keep it boxed away until you change your mind. Yes? Is that not simpler? I mean if you really want that authentic card experience....stick it into an envelope, write your name and address on the envelope and stick it in the mail. That way you're spending the same money on postage as I would have done and then that's fair isn't it? You don't have to feel done out of 40p. I'm happy, you're happy. Then, get your friends to do the same. Of then course, if you really don't like a person, why not just send them a card with "I hate you, I hope your Christmas if full of fights and parsnips" and they'll feel badly done to because they went to the effort in pretending to get a card from you Then it will be a greener and much pleasanter Christmas for all....except that person you don't like.


But still feel free to send Birthday cards….you know…to massage my own narcissisms.

Bah Humbug – Part 3

Despite having shit loads of Uni work, I thought I would try and do a series of posts each day about the bahhumbuggness of christmas to go with my new seasonal background.

Day 3 – Food shopping

OK. Let’s think about something. Forget what time of year it is and think about some imaginary family function in the summer. If you don’t have a family, just imagine one. If you don’t have imagination, pretend that you have.

Let’s say this function is at the end of August. You have been tasked with making a trifle. Or maybe a cheese board or something. Would you go into a supermarket or shop and buy the cream or cheese in July?


So why is it, that supermarkets, shops and the like already have turkeys, seasonal creams, seasonal sausage rolls and party foods and seasonal cheese boards on their shelves? OK yes I quite understand that people want to shop early to beat the rush. Yes I totally comprehend that most of these goods are available all year round in some form or other. But why promote the SEASONAL ones nearly a month before?

So there I was. In Testicles. Yes, I know. I don’t shop in Testicles unless I have to and this was one of those occasions. There. On special offer. Brandy butter. BRANDY FUCKING BUTTER. with a shelf life date of December 5th.


Now I like extravagance as much as the next person. Yes butter is nice on toast. Brandy butter on toast though? I probably would give that a miss though I would say that if you were a pisshead of some sort you’d probably enjoy a slab of brandy butter on your toast with your gin on your cornflakes. Each to their own.

But no. I am being fanciful. Surely in reality the only use for Brandy butter and Brandy infused cream and the like is for christmassy fayre? No? So as Christmas is not until the January end of December…..WHY THE FUCK were they in the shops?

At this time of year I like to espy the fat bastard with the bald head wheezing asthmatically round the old supermarket while pushing a trolley burgeoning with all manner of festive fayre. The one with the trolley full of mince pies, cakes, stollen, turkey, prawns, melons, crackers, cheese, mini sausage rolls, them little mini scotch eggs, tins of Quality Street and the like and I wonder whether all of this is going to go into some giant chest freezer or whether he’s going to eat the lot during the week.


Of course there are those that do things in extreme ways. There always will be. And no, this time I’m not talking about fatty. I’m talking about those that descend on their local stores the night before Christmas AND BUY UP EVERY FUCKING THING. They then stand moaning as all the other mad people that have done the same are wrestling with the self-service checkouts and holding up the queue that is snaking through the aisles. Why? Why leave everything to the last minute? Sure things taste better when they are fresh, but these supermarket things are designed to have a long shelf life anyway. The shop is only shut for one day! Not for ever!

It’s like people become possessed with the consumerist spirit and are forced, without will, to shop. Now, see I wouldn’t mind, but in my eyes all I can see is waste. I don’t know about you but even on my most hungry days, I can only manage one large meal. Yes, I am aware that there are some who have exceedingly large families and they have to cater for them too but I am astounded by the amount of stuff people buy. Just for one special specific day of the year. The truth will out though, as if you watch these people fill their bins on the day after Boxing Day you will see them dumping loads of this food into the bin uneaten.


The west gorges itself at this time of year. It is like some obscene binge where everyone eats far too much high fat high salt high sugar food all in the name of celebration. It is an orgy of consumerism. While some of the planet starve because of drought, war and famine, we in the west stick two fingers up and nom our way through enough pies, cakes, turkey and prawns to feed an army for a year. Oh yeah, sure, I know you’re thinking “Well it’s not that bad, its only me you and a few others”. Its not. Realistically there are far too many people eating far too much. Just on one day. And for what? To celebrate the birth of the Christ child? Not any more. It is because IT IS DEMANDED OF YOU SOCIALLY. Society demands that you do this because if you don’t you are a miserable scrooge. Well I’ve got news for you….Society is the miserable cunt. I reject the enforced gorging, I reject the enforced consumerism and I reject it with a single finger extended.




It is clearly wrong that while others starve and try to find shelter, we in the west sit in our homes surrounded by consumer goods and tacky tinsel stuffing ourselves with amounts of food that would kill. Foods produced in mass quantities producing CO2, litter, methane and waste. All in aid of praising the great Gods of consumerism and their minion Corporate Santa. So while that strange Aunt that nobody likes quietly sips her sherry in the corner while expelling putrid sprout farts from her wrinkled anus, think about the damage she’s doing. Think about those starving children. Think. If it was your country where children were starving, and people in far off lands were having a good old knees up, you’d be like “Oi! No! Look at little Johnny! He’s starving hungry!”.

No? You wouldn’t? No I didn’t think you would. You’d be far too busy thinking about that Aunt and the fact she’s bought you socks that are too small for the 10th year running. Or what time Doctor Who is on.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Bah Humbug - 2

Despite having shit loads of Uni work, I thought I would try and do a series of posts each day about the bahhumbuggness of christmas to go with my new seasonal background.

Day 2 – Decorations

When I was a wee badger pup, I used to delight at being driven through the suburbs to wherever it was we were going. Moreso when it was Christmastide. I would gaze out of the window with wide eyes eager to espy illuminated windows bedecked with Christmas decorations.

Back in the 1970’s and 80’s it was like some advent calendar. You 60s_baubles knew Christmas was coming because more and more houses would look festive each night. From the very rare one toward the beginning of the month, to the sudden explosion about a week before the special specific day.

Since then, like a rash, it seems that some are excited about the big day in November and the once eager countdown has turned from a “count the tree!” into a “Spot the Christmas victim” sport.

But I touched on illuminations yesterday, so today I am going indoors.

My Nan had the best Christmas decorations ever. I have some of the ones that haven’t disintegrated still.  My favorite is a cardboard cut out of Santa on his sleigh over arced by the words “HAPPY CHRISTMAS”, it has a sister, that of a cardboard cut out of Santa in his airplane over arced by the words “MERRY CHRISTMAS”. Simple. effective. Still with stubborn remains of glitter clinging on. There is also a small bag of garlands. Not any ordinary garland mind. None of this tinsel stuff. These are brightly coloured PAPER GARLANDS!

Ah the simple things.

These days however, houses seem to spend a lot on decorations. Either that or the festive decoration business is very lucrative. Everything seems to appear to have some kind of organic feel to it. garlands Even the fake stuff. Garlands of green swathing stairways, posh looking real trees and even plastic pseudo trees that would convince even Percy Thrower from a distance.


What’s wrong with the tatty tinsel? The crap baubles with their lacquer coming off? Or the cheap looking flue brush Christmas tree in the corner? Why bother with all the expense of new decorations? My Nan's had clearly lasted since before the war with a small top up some time in the 60’s. Nothing extravagant. Just basic. And yet still looking like you’re doing your part.

But no. Because designers need to earn a crust, new concepts in the latest decoration styles come forth. It’s like redesigning spoons and encouraging people to buy different spoons depending on the flavour yogurt they’re eating. Decorations don’t go tacky. They might get damaged yes, but they don’t go tacky. It is YOUR PERCEPTION that makes them tacky, spurred on by the fashion industries in an effort to generate more income for themselves. Now I can’t blame them for that. After all if we’re all gullible enough to follow new trends then good on whosoever makes a crust out of that narcissism. But a tree is a tree. Convincing or not. A string of green tinsel is a string of green tinsel. Flame retardant or not. A bauble a bauble – child friendly or not.

So this year, if you are tempted to buy new decorations. Save money. Use the ones you already have. Don’t throw the old ones away. Keep them. Use them every year ad nauseam. Until you are in your 70’s and you can pass them on to a governmentally approved young person (providing you’ve been checked out of course).

Of course, you could go down the other route. The “Don’t bother” route.

Before I digressed I was writing about the Christmas tree spotting occasions I used to take part in. Of course, living in an ethnically diverse place such as Liverpool, there were quite a few houses that didn’t bedeck in gaiety. This confused me because I wanted to know why Mr & Mrs Singh* didn’t have decorations ups and I also wanted to know why Mr & Mrs Goldstienburg* didn’t seem to bother either. INDIA/ Of course I wasn’t allowed to ask them as this was the 1970’s/80’s and even looking at people who had different creeds and beliefs was unthinkable. After all you might catch something.

Aside from the Singhs and the Goldstienburgs there was the mysterious Joneses*. They seemed like an ordinary couple. Dog, house, cars, both were teachers but they seemed to lack decorations at Christmas. I thought the reason why they didn’t dress their house up was because they didn’t have children. So as they didn’t have children Father Christmas had no right being there so why would they try to tempt him in with decorations? Logical thinking no?

As my years went on and I moved away, I became aware that other people didn’t bother with decorations. It became apparent that some would dread the annual scuffle to find a box of musty smelling balls of tinsel; bedeck; sit surrounded by it all; take it down 3 weeks later.

And why not! Who wouldn’t. So think about it. You’re going to mooch about in a dusty attic, damp cellar, rank shed, cluttered cupboard. Take all the boxes of decorations out. Spend the entire day sticking up bits of cheap crap around your accommodation in an attempt to make yourself feel festive for a couple of weeks. You’ll find that some lights wont work, you’ll find bits of tinsel have some how become entwined with each other. You’ll find bits of stuff you had forgotten about from the previous year. You might even find that smelly Aunt last seen in the corner sipping sherry the previous Christmas.

Then 3 weeks later, you’ll have to take it all down again. Stuff it back into boxes, return your Aunt to the nursing home and some how muster up the arsedness to stuff it all back in the place you got it from. I mean really….CAN YOU BE ARSED?

Do what I do. Don’t bother.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Bah humbug

Despite having shit loads of Uni work, I thought I would try and do a series of posts each day about the bahhumbuggness of christmas to go with my new seasonal background.

Day 1 - Christmas Lights

Last month, the council cherry picker came round and put up the usual festive illuminations around the main street through Brierley. This signalled the impending annual tradition of the Barnsley Christmas Lights Switch On. A tradition that dates back to the early days when locals would gather, set fire to a virgin and honour the ancient God of Coal. These days it is a more sedate affair. Local celebrities (of which there are two maybe three) arrive, say some inspiring words ("It's Christmas" "You're all going to die" "What the fuck am I doing in Barnsley?") and flick a switch. A nice job if you can get it. Bit seasonal though.

This year's switch on was about 2 weeks ago.

Now I had expected the gay baubles to be illuminated outside the Church of the Blue Bag already. But no. Possibly because Councillor/Mayor Vodden hasn't got round to plugging in the extension cord or maybe because, as tradition holds with fairy lights, a bulb has blown somewhere down the street and the council are too busy to come and test each bulb. So there it hangs. On the street light. Dull. Dim and extra.

Of course this would probably be a problem if, over the next 3 weeks, the plethora of social housing and swaythes of other residences didn't bedeck their houses with gaudy strings of coloured electric lighting. Already, the streets of Brierley are starting to resemble a poor man's Blackpool and yet this is only the beginning. Residents clinging on to some vague recollection of happy Christmases past. Re-enacting, modernising and reattempting to capture that one heady happy jolly merry christmas where gran would sit in the corner farting and the deformed elderly Aunt that nobody cared for slowly got pissed on rum in front of a flue brush christmas tree dressed in Woolworth's best bargain death trap fairy lights.

And yet, though the whole idea is frightful to some, there is something carnal and comforting about the bright glow of coloured lights against the dark December evenings. We banish the darkness with light, imageharking back to those long ago days when electricity was witchcraft and we would be huddled in the corner of a roundhouse with the cows and sheeps for warmth while praying that the sun would come up the next morning. So as you drive or walk down your local streets during these cold cold December nights and you observe the brightly coloured lights of festive celebrations, think. Think how those who cover their homes with more lights than a Las Vegas casino are actually trying, in some sort of primal tribal memory way, to banish the darkness. Laugh to yourself. Think how foolish they are for being afraid of the dark. Then. Walk into a lamppost.

Look where you are going.