A Christmas tree popped up in Brighton station towards the end of last week. As I trudged wearily past due to my train being late again and having missed my connection home as a result, I actually found myself telling it to go forth and multiply. Yes, I was already in a bad mood, but I really meant it. Oh dear.
I don’t hate Christmas at all; quite the opposite in fact, it’s great when it comes around. I love spending the all-too-rare time with my family, relaxing and, okay, eating and drinking more than I need to. It’s just the incessant reminders that it’s coming that bother me.
The shopping centres have already fallen to the festive zombie hordes while neighbours up and down the land have commenced battle in their collective goal of getting a higher electricity bill than everyone else. Add to this the twin pressures of austerity measures and having to buy people things they don’t really need and it’s already beginning to feel like a daunting prospect before it should even be a thought at the back of the mind.
Then there’s the telly. If there’s one thing I hate about kids’ TV, it’s the short films about capitalism that are occasionally punctuated by cartoons. There’s a certain channel that Dylan insists on watching which, aside from its endless repeats and frankly awful breakfast time presenter, is riddled with them.And with the celebrations formerly known as Yuletide allegedly looming large, I’m sure they’ve ramped them up.
I grudgingly accept that they’re somehow or other a necessary evil and an inevitable pay off for the peace that having it switched on usually guarantees, but a couple of them that I’ve seen are wildly inappropriate too. I’ll try not to get too Mary Whitehouse here, but am not going to promise anything…
First up is a game that allows children to simulate the scatological side of owning a pet. Yes, you can now own a plastic dog that craps everywhere when you squeeze a pump fitting attached to it. People may argue that it teaches little ones about responsible pet ownership.
Does it bollocks. It’s designed for them to delight in watching bodily functions. It’s just grim and children don’t need encouraging as far as poo is concerned. It’s like crack to them. Next is a pig that you force feed burgers until its stomach pops.
True, it provides a handy metaphor for the ugly nature of consumerism, but what else does it actually achieve? Evidently, nothing says ‘Merry Christmas, kids!’ like a shitting dog or porcine recreation of Monty Python’s Mr Creosote.
And whether the ads are for pointless things that have a novelty value which will have long since passed by New Year’s Eve or for educational toys that’ll serve children well, there are way too many of them.
Why do we need so many reminders about something that happens on the same date every year? And why do we need to be reminded so early on? We know we’ve got to buy things and where to go to pay over the odds for them. Have we really got to the stage where we’re too bloody stupid to recall the need to be festive or even to know our own minds about when to prepare for it?