Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The Death of Christmas

You just can’t keep the man down eh? In this latest feeble offering of “The Death of. . . . . . . . . ” Dirrrrtyoldman whinges and moans like a prisoner on death row protests his innocence. This time it’s about how things aren’t quite how they used to be when he was a lad. Let’s hope that one day he has a premonition and writes his own name in the title.

Well it’s nearly here isn’t it? Not quite, at the point of writing this it’s a full week before Halloween let alone Christmas. Thankfully though at least the supermarkets have plenty of those scary masks and costumes left to dress up and celebrate our traditional 31st October revelry. I was expecting that they would have sold out already, having already been in the shops since the end of September.

Another self inflicted bastardisation from the good ol’ U.S. of A that denigrates our once proud nation. At least we’ve got Bonfire night. Although no-one has officially unveiled it as a month long celebration I’m sure it must be. Otherwise why would the fireworks be flying past my window every night from early October?

Anyway I digress. If you’re reading this before, or on the big day, may I wish you a merry Christmas. If it’s between Christmas and New Year I hope you had a lovely time. And if it’s already the New Year then don’t worry as you can make a head start on planning for Christmas, as it’s nearly here isn’t it? And that my dear friends is what gets right on my tits. For all intents and purposes Christmas might as well be all year round. The elongated build up and the never-ending guilt and pressure heaped onto Mums and Dads everywhere to buy their young Master Park-Bench Beckham the exact gifts he wants. Well it’s fucking intolerable!! What happened to an apple and an orange, a pack of playing cards, a pea-shooter and some marbles in a stocking?

Now I’m not saying I didn’t get anything for Christmas, but at least my Mum and Dad made me sweat a bit wondering if I would get what I wanted. Not only that, but up until the age of 11yrs old I thought it was Father Christmas who was judge and jury when it came to dishing out the presents. When my Mum told me, “Only good girls and boys get Santa’s toys” I fucking well believed her. I was even more afraid of making an arse of things when she told me, “he’s watching you, so behave”. It was bad enough having Catholic guilt about having the odd (well once a day) crafty wank. But to think that there was God and now Santa watching my every move and seeing me making my bald man cry (sometimes twice a day) was far too much to deal with.

Where was child-line when I needed it? In fact where was buck toothed child saver Esther Rantzen? Probably getting roasted by two elderly white bearded gentlemen knowing my luck. Another bonus about being a Catholic at Christmas was trying to remember and then repent for the sins of the last year. It’s funny how the confessionals were always packed in the weeks leading up to Christmas and every eye was reverently bone dry. I know all three of mine were.

Whilst on the subject of sweating (see paragraph 4, line 2, 3rd word in) at Christmas, my Dad sweated much more than me. He sweated like a pig at the best of times, but a lifetime on the booze does that to a man. I can always remember him nervously eyeing up the Christmas shop. Sat there, calculating if there was going to be enough change from the silverskin pickles and quality street to see him right for a few jars down the Earlestown Labour Club. It was no mean feat for a man whose eyes were like permanent piss holes in the snow and whose numerical skills ended at 3. Well he’d never had more than 3 pints when my Mum asked him how much he had drank, although I’ve never before or since seen a man in such a state off so little booze. The panic visibly drained from his face, and his demeanour dramatically improved, when he realised there was enough of his hard earned dole cheque left to see Christmas in, in style.

All of this reminiscing got me wondering though. What happened to Christmas? What happened to wide eyed innocence and excitement? What happened to the two bearded gentlemen and which one was the biological Father to Rantzen’s child? Oh for Jeremy Kyle back in 1981.

No-one believes anything anymore or is it that there is nothing left to believe in? God, the tooth fairy, the easter bunny and even Father Christmas himself. We don’t even believe in each other.

Last Christmas, as I do every Christmas, I helped my lad write a letter to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas. With the letter tightly clutched in his tiny hand we skipped off down to the postbox and posted it, jobs a good un! Later as I picked him up from school I got talking to some of the other parents and asked them had their little Johnnies and Jane’s wrote to Santa. You’d have thought I had been speaking a foreign language the way some of them reacted. Whilst some gazed in amazement as If I’d discovered the world was round.

I bet these are the same set of miserable bastards who don’t even bother to take the time on Christmas Eve to chew the carrot up, drink the milk and Whiskey, and leave just the right amount of mess and crumbs to make the big mans arrival look complete. They just don’t bother at all. Too much like hard work and definitely too much effort in the imagination department. Even too much effort to be bothered to see their own offspring with that look on their face when they see the tell tale signs that “he’s been”. No matter what class you are or whether you’ve got two pennies to rub together, that look on a kids face can’t be bought at any price. And it costs fuck all to do.

This year my lad is holding on to the last remnants of his belief in the myth. To be honest I didn’t think we would get this far, he’s 9 next February. No doubt in the near future he’ll be telling me that I have lied to him and that he is filing for divorce from me and his Mum. He’ll cite a breach of his Human Rights and irreconcilable differences for the split. The lawyer that represents him will accuse me of causing mass feelings of indignity within the minorities, before holding me directly responsible for Lambeth Councils 2005 decision not to rename their Christmas lights, “winter lights”.

Well you know what? Fuck ‘em, because I’m sure there’s still enough of us about to enjoy it, no matter what the merchants of doom and gloom are prophesising.

Merry Christmas everyone.


Dedicated to me Mam who bought me a BSA Javelin bike for Christmas in 1981 and spent the next 24 months paying for it.

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