A Christmas Message – Stop the World I’m Gettin’ Off
In my first year of university I lived in a thing called Waveney Terrace, a giant edifice of communal living, far removed from the iconic Ziggurats that a Google image search of University of East Anglia will return. In the original designs all the student accommodation was to be these funny pyramids but the money ran out so they built Waveney Terrace. There were a few popular legends about Waveney, the first, that it was based on Swedish Prison, seems unlikely – it looked more like a housing development in some far flung corner of the Eastern Bloc – the second, which during the winter certainly felt like it, was that Waveney Terrace was the first thing that the cold wind and weather hit on its way West, direct from the Urals – Waveney was handily built on what in Norfolk would probably constitute a ‘hill’ – the first hill since Russia and for a good few weeks in that first year I struggled to open the door as rain, snow and wind hampered my daily trips to the bar.
Why do I tell you this? Well Waveney acts as neat metaphor for how I feel around this time of year. Working as I do in the media I am on the front line of the mighty winds of bull shit that wash through the world, I am Waveney Terrace of you will. These waves are felt keenly at this time of year. Most years the build up to Christmas is an irritation, I let the waves of bull shit roll over me. This year however I can pin point the exact moment it got too much and over powered me (about 1pm on 19th December), but reeling, I’ve decided to fight back. I’ve taken gust after gust of Christmas gift guide, quiz of the year, numerous lists of over hyped shit restaurants that I didn’t visit in 2013, numerous lists of over hyped shit restaurants that I won’t want to go to in 2014, enough Christmas dinner ideas for all eternity. It would feel like Ground Hog Day if it wasn’t for the subtle changes: Blurred Lines, replaces Gangnam Style, Berners Tavern where Brasserie Zedel was once written about and fawned over (plus this year a million fucking bars and restaurants with either a + or & in their name which can be summed up simply as Cock & Balls) the Nike Air Max this year’s Clarks Originals. It just never fucking stops, nothing lasts. When you’ve gone through this cycle a few times it starts to grate a little and then this happens…
(As I was flicking through random ‘foodie’ magazine) It says that this year’s Christmas has to be the BEST CHRISTMAS DINNERPARTYARGUMENTEVER – but wait…in last year’s copy of the same magazine didn’t it tell us the same thing? Last years was the best and now this years is the best? And that it won’t be THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER, (and IT HAS TO BE THE BEST), unless you have roasted 8 BIRDS JAMMED UP EACH OTHERS FUCKING ARSE HOLES and your potatoes have to be cooked in goose fat / vasaline / the quim of a horse (now sold out in Waitrose) and if they aren’t then you might as well not bother YOU WORTHLESS FUCKING MIDDLE CLASS TOAD! Well you know what guys, you can all fuck off because I’m going to put some Lurpack on my spuds and put em’ in the fucking oven for an hour or so – so stick that in your fat fame hungry face JAMIEGORDONNIGELLEAANDHUGH FUCKING BLUMENTHAL or whatever the fuck your name is. And Nigella, I think the “Deliciously, Indulgent, isn’t it a bit cheeky, shall I rub it on my fucking tits?” chocolate log would taste a whole lot better sprinkled with as much gak as you can get your nasty little mitts on. Oh and Heston, before you even begin thinking about this year’s Exploding Jelly Tots Filled Christmas Pudding – just fucking don’t.
I manage to avoid TV most of the year, but as with all things a little gets through. Some of it I watch, just to feel my heart rate sore – so that I know I’m still alive. This year I took in 10 minutes of “Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas” or as it may have been better termed “Kirstie’s Fucking Nightmare Tat Bonanza” where Kirstie Allsop traipses around the pretty towns of Sussex buying overpriced junk from vintage shops, her purchases, all of which appear to have no obvious connection with Christmas are then transformed before our very eyes in to a Christmas table centrepiece – which in short involves tying some holly around it, filling it with water and floating a few fucking tea lights in it – basically making it look like it is something you just happened to tastefully put together – except you didn’t, Kirstie told you to do it – and if Kirstie told you to shoot yourself in the face in the Haberdashery section of John Lewis, you’d fucking do it because you’re a moron. How do I know this? Because at one point in the program, during an actually quite interesting piece on blowing goats, sorry blowing glass, Kirsty smugly told us that last year there was a 500 per cent rise in people signing up for glass blowing classes. As if she needed to reiterate the power she holds over the brainless middle classes. It also neatly illustrates my point that they roll out the same shite year on fucking year.
It’s as if as the clock strikes midnight on November 31 everyone is wired to go FUCKING MENTAL, a mass fucking craziness – a collective loosing of marbles – fuelled by the endless marketing of Shit You Don’t Need and mawkish Christmas adverts. As if everyone wakes up on December 1st with the following mantra in their head: I MUST HAVE THE VERY BEST TIME EVER AND SEE EVERYBODY IN THE 20 DAYS OF THE MONTH I MUST CONSUME AS MANY UNITS OF ALCOHOL AND EAT AS MUCH AS I POSSIBLY CAN I MUST BUY AS MUCH SHITE AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE AND I MUST MUST MUST HAVE A GOOD TIME. For fucks sake, the world doesn’t end on December 31st, the sun goes down, the sun comes up, the tides go in the tides go out. Nothing changes. You can see your friends in January, the restaurants and bars will still be open and in fact the experience is a whole lot more pleasant as every restaurant and bar isn’t filled with some fucking dire Christmas party.
Anyway, after the big day is done and your through that awkward bit in the middle where all the papers and news websites are filled with is 1,452 things to do with the left overs from your fucking 8 bird cut and shut Christmas joint and a round up (there’s always a fucking round up) of places to go on NYE where you can spend a lot of money AND HAVE A REALLY GOOD TIME (except you won’t because NYE is shit). Yep, after that when you think it’s all over there is January. Fucking January. When the whole fucking merry dance begins again…
Every fucking magazine, website and newspaper is filled with detox this, detox that, a DIY guide to transplanting your own liver, what your stars have in store for you this year! (fuck all), sell your body to pay off your credit card etc. And of course the endless diet tips: YOU MUST ONLY DRINK KALE SMOOTHIES AND EAT CARROT BATONS, and NEWYEARSFUCKINGRESOLUTIONS, go on, surprise me – you’re going to write the book, go to the gym 5 times a week, give up cigarettes/ketamine/kale smoothies. learn to blow glass (because fucking Allsop told you to) – no you’re fucking not. You are not going to do any of these things because your intrinsically lazy and you know that nothing changes come January. You’re just the same miserable person trapped in the same miserable cycle.
Well you know what, I’ve got a resolution for you – I’ve got a resolution for all of us. Why don’t we just not do all this shit next year? Why don’t we just not go fucking mental and instead act like reasonable human beings? Let’s not get ourselves in to debt, or put on a stone of weight or irreparably damage our livers. Let’s not do any of it. Let’s not watch the programs or buy the papers, let’s not pander to any of this.
Instead let’s just look each other in the eye, warmly shake a hand, or exchange a kiss or a smile and wish our friends, colleagues and family a merry Christmas and happy new year – and let’s make sure that exchange is heartfelt and genuine – let’s make a resolution to be better people.
And with that, I genuinely wish you a very happy Christmas and merry New Year.