And so the festive season is in full swing – the television schedules are all over the place; pre-Xmas sales are being advertised on the high street; media columnists from every department are compiling their highlights of 2015; BBC Sports Personality Of The Year takes place tomorrow; odd members of the public are wearing Santa Claus bobble hats; and, of course, all over the UK families are ordering in – or stocking up with – piles of seasonal food and drink in readiness for an invasions of relations near and distant and as much merriment as everyone can muster.
Writing as someone who, as a matter of personal choice, doesn’t socialise a great deal, it may not surprise you that 85% of this annual frenzy leaves me stone cold. From my point of view, since for the other ten months of the year those who want to get out and party don’t seem to need an excuse – they just do it – I fail to see why anyone needed to invent Christmas as some sort of mass reason for splurging money on presents and getting together to eat, drink and carouse.
Yes, yes …. okay, religion.
And yes, most world religions (great and small) have traditional festival-type days or periods. But to my mind, since the mid-20th Century, these have uniformly become more consumer-secular dominated than anything else. There may have been a time when religious contemplation was the purpose (with perhaps a bit of partying on top) but these days it’s definitely the other way around.
In which context I cannot think of anything more fatuous or telling than the UK’s annual obsession with “Which artiste is going to have this year’s Number One?”
Weary record company marketing and PR executives will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to promote sales and inevitably, when November comes around, they turn their minds to tapping into the second ‘silly season’ (the first being August) on the annual calendar – even though, despite the UK probably having 15,000,000 more people in it than it did in 1970, these days it only takes about 180,000 sales to hit the Number One spot compared to the 750,000 plus it required back then.
This year I’ve been subjected the usual shameless BBC television show-plugging of Christmas songs or albums from the likes of Kylie Minogue, Shirley Bassey & classical boy band Blake, faded pop wild child Kim Wilde and legendary opera singer Placido Domingo.
Without exception, every one of the above has been given a hearty ‘thumbs-down’ by the music critics of the broadsheet newspapers. Kylie’s album registered just 1 star out of 5 in The Guardian and in another newspaper [sadly, my memory – rather than deference and respect for the great man – prevents me identifying it] Domingo’s pathetically limp effort didn’t even receive that!
Before finally outing myself as a 21st Century kill-joy Scrooge, let me add that I’ve received nine Christmas cards this year, which I regard as a win. I mention it because I gave up sending cards of my own just about twenty years ago now in the hope of causing a retaliatory reduction in those coming my way, a campaign that has resulted in only partial success.
That said, I do regard at last getting below double figures (that’s assuming no more arrive, of course) is a bit of a milestone. I might add that, of the nine, seven originate from friends or relatives who I don’t see or speak to from one year to the next but who simply press the ‘buy, inscribe, send’ Christmas cards button as one of their festive rituals – whilst the other two – possibly also being members of the aforementioned group – come from couples whom as yet I have been unable to identify … one of which, I note from their missive, have become grandparents for the first time.
Roll on 4th January (when life returns to normal), I say!