‘Christmas is going to be just like any other day in this house – dead miserable.’
– Tony Hancock
As I’m lying in bed with a stinking cold and thinking about cancelling Christmas, Hancock’s ghastly yuletides past, from a time that knew about real austerity, spring readily to mind. There’s a goose being cooked somewhere with my moniker on it, but all I’ve managed to eat in two days is a spoonful of something called ‘Yorkshire Provender’ which is like soup with all the flavour removed, and containing the surprise reveal of boiled potatoes at the bottom.
Reading helps a little but perhaps I should be trying something lighter, Ben Schott’s ‘Jeeves’ homage perhaps, rather than Dorian Lynskey’s ‘The Ministry of Truth’, about totalitarian regimes and the writing and aftermath of ‘1984’, a fascinating and much needed volume. (I should have guessed that George Orwell was depressing company.)
My movie viewing isn’t cheering me up either. I’ve seen ‘The Lighthouse’, about two men going mad in a lighthouse, (monochrome, academy screen, Popeye accents) and ‘The Vanishing’, about three men going mad in a lighthouse with Scottish accents. I suppose I could rewatch ‘Cold Skin’ (selkie-type creatures attack lighthouse, ‘Tower of Evil’ (murderer in lighthouse) and ‘The Day of the Triffids’ (climactic fight against killer plants in a lighthouse) to complete a full day’s viewing of going-mad-in-lighthouses.
Now, I like arthouse movies far more than most but today I’d pick any SF film where spaceships bash into each other over watching another Armenian-flautist-undergoing-a-moral-crisis-after-the-death-of-an-autistic-child film. The Queen’s Speech is always a highlight because HRH is entirely unflappable, so that even Armageddon would become another ‘bumpy year’. I like to think that hysterical Millennials watch her and calm the f**k down.
So if you’re looking for Christmas cheer here, hop it. The sun is shining so brightly it might be Midsummer’s Day outside. Christmas confuses me and always has done. It’s usually mild and wet in London. Plus, I associate it with family accidents (my father twice ended up in hospital on Christmas Eve), arguments and disasters, like the time when the dog ate the turkey while it was resting in the kitchen and my mother burst into tears and said, ‘Why is Christmas always this awful?’
And while I’m not quite prepared to Rees-Mogg it and suggest turning back the clock to a time when you got some walnuts and an orange in an actual sock, I don’t think buying someone a new mobile phone is very ‘Gift of the Magi’ either.
Luckily I have this blog to cheer me up. Although you lot don’t really need me here, do you? I spend more time reading the comments than writing the articles, which is just like journalism feature writing without pay. The comments are where it all happens. It’s like some hilarious exclusive club for enquiring minds, managing to leap across topics from quantum mechanics to toast. The entry fee to this club is simply an infinite curiosity.
So, if you ever glance at this blog and think about commenting before changing your mind at the last minute, don’t. Write it down here, join in and have fun with us all in a space where you won’t be judged, where comment is freedom and where you may end up arguing about Dickens, how to fold a bow-tie, where the comma comes in ‘God rest ye merry gentlemen’ or what’s in kedgeree.