100% Gristle

This time of year, for over 25 years, I have been asked, as I am sure you have, “Wot do you want for Christmas?”

Thing is. Through those years I never seemed to get what I wanted. I’ve had things I wouldn’t mind, things that I would have never thought of asking for and I’ve had things that I am grateful for. But recently I have been thinking hard about this Christmas malarkey. Like what’s it all about? Alfie?

Aside from the celebration of the birth of some Arab kid with Caucasian looks 2000 years ago, Christmas has, in recent years, become a festival of greed and avarice. I started this thought route by thinking about what I wanted for Christmas, despite the fact that only 3 people ask me these days, to which I usually either shrug my shoulders or point people in the direction of my Amazon wish list. My point is I never get anything I really want anyway. Just things I would like. Things I covet.

Its like this. When I was younger I wanted a catapult. I don’t know why. I just did. I suppose I wanted to be like Dennis the Menace (the one from Beano not the Merrycan, Mason Gamble imitation). I never got one. In fact the kids I knew that did ended up getting theirs confiscated or stolen by bullies. I suppose that also goes for the Atari Games Console. Instead I got a VIC20 (hey hey 16k what does that get you today? You use more than that for a letter) purely because my elder brother insisted that VIC20 was to be the future and C64 was a pile of arse (how wrong he was). Everyone else that year got Spectrum 48k’s or, in the case of David “I’m such a teachers cocksucker” Griffiths, a BBC Micro. Still that was a long time ago and I’m not bitter about it. (Well maybe a teeny bit but I won’t go into that). Basically, to my mind at least, Santa was as good at reading my letters (which I still send) as I was at my 8 times table. If I asked for computer games I got coats, videos – slippers, Aftershaves – funny little toy things that broke after 2 weeks, watches – socks. It was almost as if Santa has been ripping off kids with cheap tat and stuff they don’t need or want. But I’m on to him. (I know he lives in my mum and dads house because I saw his stash of prezzies there and there’s always reindeer shit behind the shed though (I didn’t realise that reindeer were that small to be honest). So fuck Santa. Fuck him in the arse. If he thinks he’s getting a mince pie and a glass of milk this year he can fuck off!

I have been thinking and as you know I, like prisoners in Wakefield Prison, have a lot of time to think (not, I might add, because I am in prison, but because my job allows me plenty of time to think). The tat and bollocks method of Christmas presents just doesn’t work. Like do you still wear those socks that Auntie Beryl bought you two years ago? Do you still play with that Furby you whinged and whinged for? Do you look at that now empty bottle of perfume/aftershave and think “Hey Uncle Bob bought me that in 1993, I love Uncle Bob”

Do you fuck! The aftershave has probably long since been used, the Furby is probably on Ebay or at the Marie Curie shop with bits hanging off of it and the socks escaped to the Land-Where-Socks-Go-To-Die or have gone threadbare. See? Maybe you don’t….so I will continue.

Lets look at what you might have bought people in the past couple of years. You could have bought you S.O. a nice book, bet they don’t still read it. That tasteful pink crinoline lady toilet roll hider you bought for Auntie Maud? She thinks its the arse and has probably shoved it in a drawer somewhere. And how about that game of cribbage you bought for young Jimmy? There’s probably bits missing and he hates you for getting it him because all he really wanted was a Cindytm or a My Little Pony Glue Factorytm. Search your inner most feelings young padawan…you know it to be true. They are as grateful for your Christmas presents as if you had given them a decomposing hippo.

Can you remember what you got for Christmas last year? I suppose some of you might (anal retentives!) yet I would suppose quite a few readers, me included, cannot recall straight off everything they got Christmas 2004. I think I got a book. Maybe occasionally someone will get you something so fantastic ,like Xmas 2002 I got a home brew kit, [I love my home brew kit (even though it is sat in the loft collecting dust because I haven’t had the money to buy what I need to make my own beer)] if it is a truly well thought out prezzie people tend to remember.

A few years ago I bought my brothers some really cool clocks, they only cost a tenner but they were of interesting design and did look marvellous. These clocks now take pride of place on their side boards and I’m sure when they want to know what time it is my brothers look at their respective clocks and think “Hey, my little brother stegzy bought me that” and they will continue to do so until either the clocks break or they buy a digital watch. Presents like that last. Not cheap tacky musical socks or pickled oranges. They are but fleeting. The wife and I made mugs for everyone a few years ago too. True they might not be used as regularly as the bone china but there is nothing better than sipping hot tea out of a mug with your name written on the side. Is there?

In my heart I know that a present should be fondly thought of and treasured because that is what I would want. Something I can look or use time and time again and say to myself “Awww I remember when my old mum bought me these neon green musical furry dice”. Not “ZOMG! Auntie Grendel is coming round where did you hide that 3-in-1 toaster-bread knife? She’s bound to want to see the fucker”.

Also people in this day and age, particularly in the western world, tend to be able to nip out and get the things they want for themselves rather than have to wait for Christmas. [Well in my case no. I tend not to spend money on clothes as I get shit loads of jumpers and tight fitting shirts at Christmas. I have no shame about wearing a shirt with a Santa logo on in the middle of July] So people tend to be hard to buy for as they already have everything. They then wonder why they get a Haynes Manual and a video on tractors instead of something useful. Therefore this year I am really putting my mind to it. Ideally I would like to buy or make something that will last for years and years. Something people will look at or use always and say “Aww remember Christmas 2005 when all I wanted was a DVD box set of Womble porn? And stegzy got me this? He was such a thoughtful chap. I shall treasure it always.”. The gimme gimme gimme attitude of kids and people and the “Buy our overpriced cheap tat” attitude of the major high street retailers has, for me at least killed Christmas. It was once a day for thought and reflection, of the kindness of others and the joy of nice surprises.

You see its not just Christmas. Its all gift giving occasions. Birthdays, Bar Mitzvahs, weddings and funerals. My wedding was fortunate as we didn’t get 78 toasters and a cake knife. We asked our guests to contribute to our honeymoon and they did. I will always remember my honeymoon (unless I develop Alzheimer’s) in Madeira and I fondly remember all those that attended the wedding day but birthdays? Well don’t get me going on birthdays.

I am cursed. Yes cursed with having a birthday in December. Worse than that….a week before Christmas. Now I don’t want pity as there are people much worse off than me, Jim has his birthday on New Year and Charlotte, angelhands‘ sisters husband Brian, angelhands‘ mums bloke Stuey and my old nan all have birthdays that fall either side of Christmas day. You people born later or in the middle of the year are so lucky. You get proper birthday presents, proper birthday wishes and can have proper parties and stuff. Me? I get:-

  • “well I would get you a birthday pressie but its Christmas next week”
  • My birthday cards get swallowed up in the Christmas post and its not unusual to open a card expecting Christmas wishes only to find its a birthday card (don’t know about you but I like to open my birthday cards on my Birthday….not 3 days before)
  • People at the pub are all full of “Yayyy yayy its Christmas” when they should be “Yayy yayy its stegzy‘s birthday

Its fucking arse. So this year I am having a good think about what I am going to buy people for Christmas and I’m not buying birthday presents any more. Ever.

Anyway I’m off on my lunch now…….Maybe I’ll continue at a later date…

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Once, long ago, I wrote frequently on Livejournal. I then moved to Blogspot, where I discovered that blogging requires an audience. So I moved back to LJ. Then over to Dreamwidth, back to LJ, up the road of self hosting with Muckybadger before giving up entirely and moving over to Wordpress. It was at that moment I decided I would spread my compostual nonsense simultaneously across the blogosphere like some rancid margarine. And so here I am. I am a badger. But then I'm not really a badger. I am a human. With badger like tendencies. I am a writer, a film producer and a social commentator. I am available for Breakfast TV shows, documentaries and chats in the pub with journalists where I am more than qualified enough to talk confidently about absolute shite and bollocks.