Christmas

Christmas eh? Aren’t you the least bit tired of it yet?

This year, for me at least, the Christmas build up has been one of abject resentment.

“Oh fuck it’s Christmas soon”
“Decorations? Already?”
“I’ll wait until the January Sales”
“If I hear that fucking ‘Stop the Cavalry’ once more I’ll kill someone
“Big Issue….Help the homeless”

 

They are examples of what I have heard around me. In the street, on the bus, in the shops, work and college. Hell, if it wasn’t for the 2 week holiday everyone seems to get I think people probably would have given up on the fucking thing already. But they haven’t. Christmas is still extant.

Usually, for me, the run up to Christmas involves – Shopping, Going to Blackheath, Singing Carols, Bedecking the gaff with cheap tinsel and baubles, my birthday, Works Christmas nights/afternoons out and the inevitable crunch of going to the parents for a few days to be fed cold turkey and see people I don’t see at any other time of year (either out of choice or by design).

This year I’m breaking from tradition. First and foremost I won’t be going to Blackheath this year. Why? Well I’ve got far too many essays I need to write and I also have an issue of lack of funds. Shame really, because I really like seeing Tim and the guys. I’ll miss the two big noshes, the after service “warmed” wine and mince pies and the leisurely drive to London. But hopefully it’s only for a year and since 1995 I’ve only really missed one service. So I’m not going to feel too bad about it.

Secondly, the shopping side I’ve managed to get out of the way. Christmas Shopping sucks at any time of year. What do you get for people who are in a situation where they can buy whatever they want anyway that they won’t take back to the shop for a refund? This year I was fortunate to be accosted in Huddersfield by a delightful French (possibly Belgian) sales person who did such a splendid sales pitch I couldn’t resist buying Mrs Gnomepants’ Christmas presents. Indeed, Mrs Gnomepants has done a splendid money managing job this year by keeping the Christmas present budget to a bare minimum. No, we haven’t got everybody pencil holders made out of loo roll innards, we’ve got quality functional gifts. So the shopping side is done. Short of a pair of socks here and there.

Thirdly, the decorating of the house. Mrs Gnomepants, having watched far too many daytime design and style programmes, says we will opt for a less garish, minimalistic Christmas decoration scheme than of previous years. Gone is the big-tree-that-the-cats-attack. Gone are the tacky lights and strings of bunting. This year we are having a small shrub or potted tree (about 3-4 ft high) with a light dressing of ribbons. Of course the usual OTT treatment of the christmas cards is still undebated but no doubt they’ll feature.

Fourthly, the birthday. This year I’m 34. I feel about 28 mentally and 69 physically. I suppose 34 is a happy medium. In days past I would have held lavish evenings in the pub with my chums, maybe a meal with Mrs Gnomepants or the family. This year? Well this year I’m thinking of having some of my new (not NEW) college (as in Uni) chums round for a bite to eat and maybe some revellry in the Three Horse Shoes. However, with it being a weekday night and there is an “exam” on the Tuesday I’m a bit doubtful I’d be able to pull it off. Maybe I’ll just have to do something on the weekend. Personally I think I’ve got to that age now where birthdays don’t really matter. Aside from the cards and the occasional £10 note hidden inside that’s all really I have to look forward to birthday wise.

Fifthly, the works nights out. Again I’m in the predicament where I am in a new job. NEW College no doubt will be doing the usual after term binge at the Liquorice Bush in Pontefract so depending on what I’m expected to do at the Uni I’ll be bobbing along to that. I’ve no idea what is planned for the UCB. Either as a member of staff or as a student. No doubt it will involve drinks in the Walkabout or some other god awful place in Barnsley and, seeing as my budget is fixed at £30 for all Decemberish revellry, no doubt I’ll probably only go for one pint. Besides which I was hoping to spend the bulk of that £30 on a prechristmas/post birthday beverage with a poof I know that lives in Wakefield.

Finally, the visit to the parents. This year, it has been decided, we will be doing the in-laws. Notably the sister-in-laws. Mainly because hers is the larger house but also because young Meredith will be there doing what 2 year olds do at Christmas (slobber, poo, wee, make things sticky, whinge a lot). My parents will have to wait until Boxing Day. But you see it’s not just the parents is it? Really, last years disaster meant I didn’t get to see everybody I wanted to see. This year, I’m hoping with a bit of forward planning, I’ll be able to meet up with those scousers I have and have not seen this year (billzy, Nick, Nickey, anyone from CSD that fancies it, jimrock et al). But no doubt, even with all the best intentions in the world and going on previous years, any Scouse Christmas get togethers will be fraught with difficulty and none attendance.

Again, I’d rather bypass Christmas and go straight to New Year for the next three years, but I know that although miserable and curmudgeonly about it now, by the end of the season I’ll be thinking fond things again and saddened by the rapid passing of yet another year. As for the new year. Well things are afoot. Indeed, I imagine the next months postings will feature some retrospectives and reflections on the year since August 2006. So stay tuned. As they say in the orchestra.

Conspiracy

I have a theory.

As some may know I love a good conspiracy theory. Sometimes I’m spot on other times I’m waaaaaaay off the mark. But recently I’ve thought of nothing else so I guess I’ll share it here.

Let me begin by outlining two “issues” in Britainland ™ today.

Firstly, there is a housing shortage. Allegedly there are too few houses in Britain for all the new comers (immigrants and those reaching adulthood) to live in. As a result house prices in some areas are through the roof. Twenty years ago a house in my mum and dad’s road would have set you back a princely £60k now you’d be lucky if you could get change from £250k. The solution? Well instead of arranging a mass cull to reduce the population, the government cries “Let’s build more houses!”. Because more houses means jobs in the construction industry, money for those supplying materials to such industries and miles and miles of paper work for the plethora of solicitors & accountants and stacks of wedge for your chaps in the mortgage and loan industries. Money = Jobs and Jobs = wealth. Capitalism at its best.

One problem though is Britainland ™ is very small. Compared to vast super countries like the USA where to go from coast to coast in a day is kind of optimistic, in Britainland ™ you could do it in a couple of hours, weather and traffic permitting. Fear not though! Britainland ™ has a wealth of old unused ex-industrial land or Brownfield. With me so far? Good. So there we are building houses in places where once was industry and in someplaces where there was destitution, poverty and unemployment because the industries have all fucked off to China or India where labour is cheaper leaving behind handy plots of land. Unfortunately, this land is rapidly running out and people are starting to realise that cheap housing usually means it’s in Chav central or built on an old toxic waste dump.

Secondly, we have had several really bad “agricultural” disasters. First there was the price of fuel. “If the price of fuel goes up how can we power our 4x4s tractors and combine harvesters?” cried the farmers. So they blockaded the oil terminals and managed to bring our attention to the shockingly high fuel prices. Then, within a year Britainland was closed. Closed to visitors. Why? After several years of Mad Cows disease, foot and Mouth disease had reappeared. , farmers cried “Oh woe is me! All those animals I’ve bred for you to eat have had to be culled because they are infected. How am I going to afford to feed my children?”.

Some livestock farmers saw the light and switched to growing crops. “Ha! I’m not going to let some livestock lurgy spoil my childrens Christmas” they said in a similar manner to those that said “She’s Unsinkable” about the Titanic. 2007 was the wettest year on record. Flash floods and torrential rains brought many crop growing farmers to their knees as entire fields were laid waste with fields polluted or washed away by the waters. Catastrophy! Then, just as you though it was safe to go back into livestock farming BAM! Foot and mouth (albeit a governmental laboratory version of it) strikes again, this time with BLUETOUNGE from Europe! Will the torment never end?

So, congratulations if you’ve spotted where I’m going with this, farmers are on the bones of their arses. Supermarkets paying shit money to buy their scran, Disease and floods. Today is not a good day to go into farming and with many farming families calling it a day, sons of farmers giving their father’s career choice a miss for better paid city jobs and the man on the Clapham Omnibus too content with his 4 bedroom house and shiney car in suburbia to swap it all for a life of early mornings and hard physical graft, farming, once the choice of the workproud, is waning.

But fear not! Help is at hand! Britainland ™ needs your land! Mr Farmer, sell us your land, we’ll give you a princely sum and all you have to do is sit in your farm house and enjoy your new Land Rover. Problem solved. Planning restrictions? Fuck them, they went out of the window in July (sorry were you not paying attention?). Greenfield sites you say? No! They are agricultural industry land perfect for building houses on.

Not enough land available to buy? Oh dear looks like we’ll have to make a few more farmers destitute then. Let’s have another “leak” of infected water from our laboratories, or how about a spot of flooding? Turn on the Weather control machine (yes there is one, it was developed by the American Government along with the Seismic weapon) Sorry we can’t afford flood defences. That’ll teach you for bringing the country to a stand still in 1999. Ha! Ha! Bit too devastating for the people that make money out of tourism of the countryside? OK let’s have a bit more Bluetongue, that way we can blame the midgies and gnats.

So remember this. Remember that Britainland was once known as a green and pleasant land. As well as a nation of shop keepers we were a proud agricultural nation. The birthplace of the agricultural revolution, crop rotation, seed drills, Turnip Townsend, Jethro Tull (not the progrock band though I think Ian Anderson is British) Now? We live in a time of rapid change and no doubt I’ll be telling my grandchildren how I do remember when all this were fields; how there was a colour other than brick orange and that the green grass of the lawn is nowhere near as vivid as a field of turnips, the yellow of daffodils dulled by the bright colour of Oilseed Rape, the beige of emulsion paint artificial compared to brown of ripeining barley and wheat. The smell of Widnes The smell of rotting garden compost less fresh than silage spread on fields. The low monotone of new music fainted by the dull distant purr of a combine harvester.

Next time you see a field, take a good look, because next time it could have houses on it.

Just like this one in front of my house. Well…the one behind that garage thing.