Full of festive fear.

Christmas has started early this year. It seems we have been fixated on the silly season even more intensely than usual this year, for obvious reasons. Deep down in our collective conscience we’ve managed to persuade ourselves in some richly nonsensical way that if we can save Christmas then that’s it, we’re all out of the woods. That things will get better. That Christmas is exactly what we need. It is a laughable, deluded and, most worryingly, very childish notion and it appears that it might just be quite self-destructive too, as fissures of anger ripple outwards to become chasms and society splinters, threatening to fragment before our very eyes. Please believe me when I say that Christmas won’t save us, because it can’t save us. Some of us think it might help to be angry but we should be worried instead; not worried about Christmas but worried about what will happen after we’ve had it and what kind of dreadful state this place will be in when the bells stop ringing. There should be fear, perhaps a small mince pie, and then more fear.

It genuinely confuses me, all this rage. We would all like to see other people but it just isn’t safe. We would all like to do more things, no matter how trivial and needless they might be, but it just isn’t safe. We would all like to get out for a pointless pint or an avoidable meal, but it just isn’t safe. We would all love to turn back the clocks and indulge in the absurd, frivolous freedoms that not so long ago we quite stupidly took for granted, but the world isn’t as safe as it was then. It isn’t safe, certainly not safe enough yet, to start throwing ourselves about like we’re caught up in some drug fuelled, tinsel decked swingers night. We must instead be patient and be calm. Boris should have said bugger to Christmas: stay indoors with the telephone and the internet and catch your loved ones that way, so they don’t catch something else altogether. It doesn’t matter if you’re an irate northern monkey or a very fed up soft southern woofter; it just isn’t safe.

Still, whatever manner of Christmas is lumbering round the corner, Wifey has taken full advantage of the situation and so I write this in a living room that has shrunk considerably with the arrival of a healthy looking tree, gaily adorned with every quirky ornament possible without risking subsidence. We spent yesterday afternoon making the house a festive kind of pretty, lubricated by mulled wine of course, and for the rest of that day even I began to feel the warm, soft embrace of the season, doubtless enhanced by the knowledge I was safe at home. I am still safe at home, but the dark things that glower about outside aren’t going away in a hurry, and so the warmth has faded somewhat for now. Which is a pity.

Fortunately there are many things to be thankful for. A job. Money coming in. Things to be kept busy with, distractions from the gloom. Walls and ceilings, water and food, warmth and light. There is of course Wifey, who now sits next to me, sewing labels into all the woolly hats she has being furiously knitting for the last couple of months. After dinner she will be ‘making’ chocolate by melting chocolate and pouring it into different moulds (which stretches the verb ‘to make’ a little thin) and will no doubt present this as a gift to someone else before long. If only it was this kind of fury, the industrious and well-meaning type, that was at work across the country then life might seem a touch rosier. And finally there is, because how could we forget, the manifold pleasures and untouchable beauty of Miss Hairy Mary Miyagi, who sleeps upstairs on a pillow in the spare bedroom that was freshly washed very recently but now belongs firmly to her. Until a few days ago she used the one next to it, but she must have got sick of her own honk and decided to move on. Don’t worry, if you ever come to stay we’ll put them through a boil and a couple of rinses. The pillow cases, not the cat. But there’s a thought……

Certainly there is much more to be grateful for, pandemic lockdown or not, than a lot of other buggers out there. As I ramble about a few thoughts settle on the towering achievement of greed, grease and grubbery that is Sir Philip Green. What a creature he is. If forced to one might single him out for some twisted form of praise because he makes himself so thoroughly detestable that you don’t waste a single moment or a flicker of effort in thinking he may have a very well hidden redeemable feature. He is beyond redemption and so, through her bad taste and sticky talons, is his plucked vulture of a wife – Lady Tina Green. I can’t imagine they’ll struggle this Christmas but I do feel sorry for all the employees on the scuttled ship Arcadia. Knowing what we know now about Green it must surely be an act of desperation to have to work for him, either that or a complete lack of moral direction. That Green has asked for £30 million to prop up his wilting business is another level of cheek. If only the poor people of this country – appearing so cheated of their civil liberties and Christmas parties – could channel their frustrations in the direction of the corpulent, sausage fingered Sir Philip then perhaps we might get at least some form of festive gratification this year. He could be spit roasted (in the traditional sense) with a decaying apple in his mouth and handed out to the sick and needy, though even then they would have the sense not to touch food so fatty and tainted.

Let us then be most happy for the smaller mercies in life and less so for the overstuffed goose that is modern Christmas. The higher we all get as we pretend to celebrate the birth of Jesus so the greater the fall, and we shall feel very sorry for ourselves once January starts to pull the blanket off us and watches us shiver in the cold. Our yule logs should be thin and modest this year and in between gulps of sherry, drunk in the safety of our own homes, we could share faint smiles and think ourselves lucky to be alive and, to some degree or other, kicking. We should walk with fear by our side at all times at the moment because it is fear and not hope that will keep us alive in December. It is also important not to be afraid of fear because it sharpens the senses and helps prepare for what’s next. Fear is our friend right now and only in the Spring, with a vaccine and some common sense in better supply might we look back and be glad we had a frugal, low profile, sensible Christmas in 2020. Shame that last bit won’t happen really– a great weakness of ours, mine included too, is that it is much easier to choose stupidity over fear.

G B Hewitt. 29.11.2020

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