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Heavy Plant

Walk past a "Heavy Plant" warning and wonder vaguely if the trees thought it was for them; if whoever put it up had enough imag...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

christmas

As I have no time to type anything new here is an oldie but a goldie. Enjoy:

I hate Christmas. Bollocks to Christmas. Newspaper hacks and stand-up comics like to write little skits at this time of year stating just how much they despise Christmas. No they don’t. Christmas has, for a change, provided them with something approaching a universal experience to witter on about. They find certain aspects of Christmas confusing but they don’t hate Christmas. I hate Christmas. I hate this time of year so much that I have taken the time & effort to write this. Written out this is a four page document comprising nearly three and a half thousand words and I don’t feel that is even nearly complete enough. That’s how much I hate Christmas. In fact there are so many reasons to despise Christmas that I have had trouble sufficiently encapsulating them at all. Christmas is a time when we are reminded that despite our distinctly privileged position as a wealthy western nation we can easily create enough problems for ourselves to turn what ought to be paradise into utter purgatory. There is no other single time of year when such avarice is displayed, when emotional blackmail is openly used as a control mechanism by your relatives, charities and as a marketing tool by every consumer product corporation that thinks it should have first call on the money you make. Christmas really only serves to illustrate just how foul we can really be and the worst part of it is if you point this out to people and you are regarded as some kind of killjoy, a freak that hasn’t understood the question, a scrooge. So not only do you have to actively take part in the worst display of the bad side of human nature you have to enjoy it as well. NO. FUCK OFF & TAKE YOUR CHRISTMAS WITH YOU. Never one to pander to people’s preconceptions I have decided to tell it like it is. This extended rant will hopefully serve to illustrate just how bad Christmas really is.

Christmas often brings out the absolute worst in people, not least in myself. There are exceptions to this but such people are so rare that they serve only to highlight the disgraceful mess around them. No good deed shows up the rest of us like a good deed at Christmas, so we give money to the charities & silently pray that they do their work invisibly. Surely that’s not how it’s meant to be. Having discovered the inherent guilt in Christmas every charity under the sun now gets the idea that I somehow have some spare money left after succumbing to the raging materialism all around. They then decide to go on a bizarre and, frankly, pointless mission to relieve me of my few remaining pennies. This I truly resent. Fine, manipulate my guilt if you really need the money but not all at once and not using the same, rather lame, justification: you’re going to spend so much on yourselves that really you ought to be giving us money to make you feel better about it. And who let the fucking kids in on this? The snivelling, spotty, snot-encrusted, money grubbing little whingers hammer on your doorbell, perform the most tuneless cursory effort at a Christmas carol and then demand money with menaces. This is just another version of the trick or treat idea, which the Americans can take back any time they like, please. Parents are plainly instilling their children with more business acumen than musical talent. I blame the Thatcher bitch, under-fund education & flog off our national assets & what can you expect from an example like that. Charities are, at least, going to do something beneficial with your money. What is that 13 year-old going to do with your cash? Exactly what you would have done with it at that age; take it to the nearest off-licence and blow it on ten B&H and as much cider as it can turn into rancid corrosive vomit in an hour.

The English language takes a pasting at Christmas. On no account should Xmas be used. This appalling abbreviation is among many Americanisms for which I would happily institute the death penalty. Crimbo, whilst native, also needs to be stricken from the nation’s vocabulary. Gratuitous use of the word "festive" becomes almost compulsory. Holly is no longer a prickly nightmare but "festive". Mince pies are also "festive", plastic snowmen are no longer naff but "festive". Even the humble robin is "festive", put a toy robin in the garden & watch as the real one rips it to shreds in a territorial homicidal frenzy. Festive my arse. Every time someone uses the word "festive" attempt to pluck out one of their nasal hairs. That should curtail its’ use a little.

Bad television programs are par for the course over Christmas and have become so much of a tradition that bitching about them is almost pointless. Nevertheless it must be stated for the record that the Christmas "special" is anything but. It is an excuse to fill time with the kind of formulaic tripe that causes irretrievable brain damage whether it be soap opera or "light" "entertainment". The only excuse to put the likes of Scilla Black, Michael Barrymore and Dale Winton on television is for the population at large to witness their agonising deaths by torture as an object lesson in how not to behave. Putting them all on a stage at once with the nation’s entire stock of D list celebrities with a teen pop soundtrack & calling it the Royal Christmas Variety Performance should rate as a crime against humanity. Although the upside of this is that at least one royal is subjected to this gruesome parade of dying career after dying career. We get to watch as the "upper class twit of the year" grin that they arrive with fades into mentally damaged grimace as their head-guts slowly dissolve as the performance goes on. The reason the royals have had such a tumultuous recent past is that each & every one of them has, at some point in the last two decades, attended The Royal Variety Performance. This has left them with all with little nervous system to speak of & a total inability to comprehend the world in terms of anything other than pantomime: "I’m not married", "Oooh yes you are" "Ooooh no I’m not".

Our barely suppressed gluttony springs into overdrive at Christmas. The usual benefits of huge food all the time and as much drink as you can pour down your neck are rapidly overcome by, raging indigestion & stinking hangovers day after miserable day until you finally realise that you are actually poisoning yourself & that gout is a distinct possibility should you keep on in the same vein. What better way to celebrate the birth of our Lord & Saviour (stick with it you know I’m going to get to that bit in a minute) than by eating and drinking until we pass out, puke, or both. The faux Christianity that takes hold of the nation at Christmas is not only depressing but tantamount to heresy. Not that I have any Christian leanings of any description, its just that I find it faintly disgusting that an entire faith is wheeled out once a year, not because of any deeply held respect for the basic tenets of it, but to justify what, when it gets right down to it, is a big piss-up. There are more images of Father Christmas on Christmas cards than there are of Jesus. Saint Nick was taken out of his traditional green robes by no less an evil than Coca-Cola who put him in their company livery. Craven idol anyone? Rampant commercialism? Personally I’d plump for just plain fucking evil. For the Churches, of course it is open season. Time to suck in the guilty ones who haven’t been to a service since last Christmas and brainwash their children. Sink the fangs in whilst they’re young and you can feed off the imparted guilt and fear for the rest of their lives. You can almost smell the anticipation in the notices outside the Churches. And what about those religions that perhaps don’t quite marry up with the dominant Christian faith, well they just have to watch while we shut the country down for a week and make idiots of ourselves. I bet that gives them all a lovely warm glow, not to mention a fucking good laugh.

Another fine reason to hate Christmas is mistletoe. Old ladies, strangers, scutters and munters of all shapes, sizes, ages and states of physical and mental decay, your relatives and the office slag use mistletoe as an excuse to indecently assault you. Who started this ridiculous tradition? What perverted fiend decided that, just because it’s Christmas, a leaf & some berries, poisonous by the way, constitute grounds for impinging on my personal space in such an overt corruption of the accepted norms of social interaction? Should I really have to be groped by the physically repugnant because some deluded wench has managed to procure a small amount of a parasitic plant? If, in the unlikely event, that you see me standing under any mistletoe I will probably be smiling. But stop, think, and use your imagination. That smile is not because I am looking forward to a sloppy clinch with every slathering deviant that walks past. It is because I am concealing a small sickle which I will use to slice off your lips if you even get close to me. Guess what I’ll do with them then.

Christmas decorations are also distinctly bad. For some reason everyone feels the need to cover the entire country with shiny fire hazards. They are a kitsch, gaudy eyesore that often act as a trigger for use of the word "festive", which is itself reason enough to prohibit them. At no other time of year would you countenance bringing a pine tree into your house to shove up a fairy and slowly kill by progressive degrees of dehydration (if you really want to sexually assault a fairy with a conifer you need your sex drive rewired). In a final desperate act of revenge the tree spreads agonising pine needles through your house inflicting a thousand irritating puncture wounds on unwary feet. These will only just have given up their grip on the carpet by next Christmas and you can guarantee that even then the last needle will somehow manage to embed itself in your sock. Baubles are a fantastic way to spread broken glass around the living room and fairy lights melt the chocolate monstrosities that everyone mercifully steals before they begin to drip. Anyone who has ever had a cat will be able to testify that keeping a Christmas tree vertical when it has so many tempting toys for a feline is next to impossible. The resulting explosion of broken glass, pine needles, chocolate and terrified moggy will inevitably rouse you from the stress-relieving bath that seemed like such a good idea just ten minutes previously.

At Christmas your relatives expect you to be with them and exert the kind of emotional pressure on you to come home that makes oppressive regimes look positively light handed. I’d rather face down an Indonesian secret policeman armed with an electric cattle prod than try to explain to an disappointed mother why I’m not going to be there to provide culinary & moral support. They also expect presents, and to be treated nicely and to play God-awful parlour games that remind you that just how refreshing it was to finally leave primary school and just how infantile your family’s sense of humour really is. If I want to see granny spit her dentures across the room I will punch her in the stomach. I don’t feel the need to play charades just to get the same effect. You are made to spend your hard earned on them & then told to be happy about it when really it’s just the capitalist profit motive in action and you didn’t put up much of a fight against it. Oh, but it’s the thought that counts though, no really it is. I am made to associate with these people that I dislike &, in some cases, actively despise, then I’m told not to throw sprouts at them or be rude to them, or pour gravy in their handbags because I’m related to the buggers. I do not particularly wish to be reminded of that whilst watching my grandfather spreading bread sauce all over his chin. At least at funerals I don’t have to watch them eat, not unless the cannibalistic urges really get the better of them.

The Christmas turkey can always be relied upon to ruin my day. The thing about such an enormous bird is that you have to cook it properly. This means slowly, which means getting up excruciatingly early with the second worst hangover of the year to get gory to the armpits by pulling the giblets out and stuffing the fucking thing. This brings on an attack of nausea so overwhelming it threatens to finish the day before it has even begun. Not to mention that the poor creature has probably been kept indoors in a shit covered pen with eight hundred others like it, given just enough room to breathe, force-fed growth hormones and antibiotics until it is so grossly oversized that it can’t balance properly. And you want me to eat that? Turkeys do not reach 24lbs on their own, ever. If you think you really need 24lbs of meat buy two turkeys, seek help from a trained professional (a caterer or a psychologist, either will do), or buy beef, you may have noticed that cows regularly exceed 24lbs. The brief unhappy life of the turkey is brought to a close by a bath of electrified water & the combined auto-plucker and evisceration machine. Just a little something for you to think about if you are under any illusions about Christmas dinner. Just hope I don’t get the urge to tell you what chipolatas are made from.

The task of eating the turkey is, if anything, more unpleasant than cooking it. Most people can’t cook; even people who can cook have trouble cooking turkey. This is a task usually requiring yards of foil and greaseproof paper, several ounces of butter and numerous bastings to stop the total desiccation of the unfortunate avian. It comes to the table in a blaze of glory that is intended to be the highlight of the main course but in reality only hides the dishevelled state of the cook who has suffered nervous trauma as a result of attempting the near impossible. This tactic usually works until the turkey is carved when almost anything can happen, often this means discovering that the damn thing is half-thawed and stuffed only with a small plastic bag of luke-warm stinking giblets. At best the meat will crumble into a tangled fibrous mass.

On the plate the meat is an unpalatably dry and rasping slice of unpleasantness that soaks up gravy somewhat more efficiently than kitchen paper. Forcing it down removes the skin from the back of your throat and leaves you with what is essentially a large shredded sponge in your stomach soaking up the beer, wine and sherry that you’ve chucked back and expanding, expanding, expanding. It is for this reason the 24lb turkey that you thought would only just feed the family could, in fact, feed several. Bringing me to the perennial problem of the leftover turkey. I am yet to come up with a way of getting rid of this. Dissolve it in acid, throw it on the fire, create small accessories from it’s leathery skin, try anything because come Boxing Day evening the cat will turn its’ nose up at it and the tramps on the street corner will laugh in your face if offered turkey. If in doubt bury it, but whatever you do, do not attempt to make another meal from it. There’s nothing quite as transparently unappealing as "a nice bowl of soup" or "a good curry", everyone has had enough of turkey for a whole year and disguising it as something appetising will earn you some seriously dirty looks as soon as taste-buds uncover the awful truth. Serving it up straight from the fridge should be avoided at all costs: there is a reason that heroin withdrawal is called cold turkey and I re-discover it every Boxing Day.

Among the myriad of reasons for despising the "festive" season one stands head and shoulders above the rest. The most vile foulness that ever saw airplay, the most disgraceful excuse for a marketing ploy and the one element of Christmas that can almost always be relied upon to send me into paroxysms of napalm-spitting rage is Christmas music. This brings with it and the concomitant fuss over who will have the Christmas number one. Who gives a shit? It’ll either be a song aimed at the only people that are allowed to enjoy things like Christmas & chart music (i.e. children, and drunken children at that), or some sentimental drivel by a washed-up/ born again star from many decades ago. Christmas is treated by the music industry as an excuse to abandon the normal mores of recording, production and marketing taste. It seems to be okay to record, produce and market a record completely devoid of all artistic merit as long as it is Christmas themed. I like to think of Christmas music like football records, there isn’t really much difference, except that the football team in question may just have a bit of hope behind it, there is no hope for Christmas records. They are cursed to be locked away until mid November every year until ruthless advertising agencies and moronic DJs dust them off and play them non-stop for six weeks before locking them away again. Just for those people I have a very special message, I’m going to use simple language but any DJs should still get someone to explain it to them, carefully: CHRISTMAS DOES NOT REPRESENT AN EXCUSE TO PLAY SLADE RECORDS, DO YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND? Glam rock came out of the west midlands in the 1970’s. That should be enough to put anyone off.

Michael Jackson, Bing Crosby or any of the Mafia backed Rat Pack shite, The Wombles, Cliff Richard etc. they can all roughly be grouped under the heading of "Play it, and I will genitally mutilate you". White Christmas gets singled out for special criticism at this point, drooling sentimental rubbish that it is. The song is twee, sickly sweet and in no way accurately represents the emotional anguish that surrounds Christmas. But it isn’t really the song so much as concept that I object to. It’s not meant to snow in December where I live. It’s meant to be cold, but not really snow. Yet every year the Met office give us odds on a white Christmas, it seems to be the number one conversation starter. Again only children should want things like this. Our country is not well equipped to deal with snow and it would be inconvenient at best. If you want a white Christmas let’s have a twenty-foot snowdrift. Let’s have so much snow that you can’t open the front door, that the power lines go down & halt your oven in the middle of ruining your turkey dinner. Lets have it so cold that the water pipes freeze and your central heating fails so that you have to sit inside wrapped up in your winter coat and your duvet. All there is to watch is the wine freeze in your glass and ice crystals form on the inside of the window instead of the mind alteringly poor television. Let’s have so much snow that Aunty freezes to the toilet and expires with a look of constipated pain on her rapidly solidifying features. Let’s have so much snow that you are trapped in your house with only the fading hope of rescue by the paralysed emergency services who are still desperately trying to dig out their snowploughs and thaw their petrol tanks. Forced to witness the slow indescribably painful deaths of your entire family one by one until you are the only one left you eventually take your own life with a sharpened slice of frozen Christmas pudding. Still want a white Christmas you CUNT?

I still don’t think I have satisfactorily captured the true horror of this time of year but the sheer effort of considering it in all its hideousness is taking it’s toll on my nerves. I must stop before I turn into a shivering jelly of psychological trauma.

Merry fucking Christmas.

This year dataphage will be in Fiji for Christmas, far from family and the madding crowd, not to mention turkey and Slade records. Something that pleases him greatly (posted from Noosa in Australia's sunshine coast).