Smells like festive spirit…

A recession-busting festive message from the man in red
A recession-busting festive message from the man in red

To be clear from the outset, I don’t like Christmas.  Even if a vestigial spiritual aspect remained I’d be unmoved.  In common with Norwich I have no religion, not even Jedi.  However, I’ll agree that when mornings are dark and days short we all need to be cheered up and if rituals involving eating and drinking, socialising, singing, quaffing pretend blood and melting wax effigies do the trick that’s just dandy – it’s a mostly a free country.

That said, the proliferation of Christmas presents should be banned, or at least controlled in the same way as nuclear weapons.  It’s true there are some inherent flaws in this policy.  Americans and Russians would still have shed-loads of presents, the Chinese too – even though they don’t believe in Santa.  Indians would claim they invented presents, Pakistanis would sell some of theirs to the North Koreans, Israelis would just get angry and say nothing, and the Brits and French would go off in a huff, each with one small present from last year, wondering why nobody loved them anymore.

Always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the bright side of life…

Anyhow, to this end I suggested to my wife that we simplify our lives, and those of others, by limiting Christmas giving to a pot of marmalade and a fake tattoo – I’m still working on the marmalade.  As ever, the guilt-driven ritual of tat for tat exchange that fuels Britain’s annual festival of shopping obscures the origins of this ages-old midwinter rite.  The significance of Santa’s crucifixion is lost for many in an atmosphere heavy with forced conviviality preceding the consumerist storm.

In fluorescent-decked halls across the land superstore muzak is cranked up to 11 in readiness for the December trolley dash… And they’re off… credit cards at the ready, easy payment facilities available (subject to status, terms and conditions apply) and Wanka.com for the rest.  To the victors… the feral sweetness of ‘celebrity’ perfume, shiny smartphone conduits for incontinent electronic dribbles, and for those fashionably smug, flat Chinese computers made from ground up babies’ bones…

Merry Christmas one and all.

In this week’s news from the net…

Christmas is a time for sharing… Shoplifting on the increase reports the BBC  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20765838

Kurdish/Rebel clashes add yet another facet to Syria’s war http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/12565/kurdish-rebel-clashes-raise-specter-of-interethnic-war-in-syria

Iraqi President in a coma after stroke http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20766435

First round of Egyptian referendum sees 57% approve new constitution  http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/uk-egypt-politics-idUKBRE8BH0LU20121218

‘Plague ship’ docks in Southampton – lovely aggregator of woe from the Yorkshire Post – http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/at-a-glance/main-section/passengers-tell-of-virus-hell-as-plague-ship-cruise-ends-1-5228405

Look, I stand by what I said about religion, but here’s Rev Stanley’s take on life’s legacy… http://ramblingrector.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/how-do-you-want-to-be-remembered/

Gerard Depardieu shrugs, quits France, and sends his passport to Prime Minster Ayrault  – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/9750510/France-warms-to-Gerard-Depardieu-the-heroic-exile.html