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It’s only November and already the shelves are full of cloying hypocrisy

05 Nov 2023 4 minute read
Lifestyle choice

Ben Wildsmith

When I was a boy, we all used to look forward to the traditional lecture on the commercialisation of Christmas.

In those pre-internet days, children would solemnly leaf through the family Argos catalogue and compile a handwritten list of the items we required to express our devotion to the living Christ: a Raleigh Chopper; Now That’s What I Call Music! 2 on double cassette; Deely Boppers; the new Minder annual; an octagonal Rubik’s Cube; luminous green towelling socks; a giant Toblerone.

The list would be presented to our mothers, whose role included bargaining with the Patriarchy to edit it within the household budget. Legend tells that this is how the Raleigh Chipper was born.

As the gifts were unwrapped, it would fall to an elder of the family to recount the Christmases of old. Stockings, they would explain, had not been the garish, purpose-bought items of today. They had been ordinary socks, often with holes in them brought about by walking to school in all weathers.

Gesturing at the mounting pile of decadent playthings, to which, paradoxically, they had been the most enthusiastic financial contributor, the elder would draw a stark comparison with their own childhood treats: a satsuma, nuts and a lump of coal.

Only after the family had murmured its agreement that Christmas had lost its meaning could the Cadbury’s selection box be distributed, with the elder offered first choice.

Tell that to kids today and they’d recreate it as an immersive Cottagecore experience for £79.95 a ticket.

I’m turning in my grave.

Premature enthusiasm

What does survive from those sepia-tinted days is the unanimous conviction that Christmas starts earlier every year. This, of course, is a tradition in itself. It doesn’t do to be prematurely enthusiastic about the Yuletide festivities.

The correct etiquette is to start from curmudgeonly reluctance and allow the ‘magic’ to infuse slowly until you reach sufficient spiritual ecstasy and are moved to photocopy your arse at the office drinks party.

Marks & Spencer, which took over stewardship of the festival from the church at the turn of the millennium, has traditionally sought to position it in the inclusive cultural space occupied by Sir David Attenborough PLC and Walkers crisps.

This year, however, something has gone terribly wrong.

For the Neo-Fascist grifting community, early November is a very special time. The lads and lasses at GB News, Talk TV, and The Telegraph come together to honour the fallen by criticising the clothing choices of politicians at the Cenotaph.

According to their creed, it is inappropriate to begin condemning institutions for disrespecting Christmas until after the leader of the Labour Party has been poppy-shamed.

So, what the hell was the Archbishop of Marks & Sparks thinking bringing out a heretical Christmas advert before we’ve even encouraged our children to burn the effigy of a seditious Roman Catholic?

Performative empathy

This so-called advert mocks the Spirit of Christmas (© Cliff Richard 1988) by suggesting that some of us secretly don’t enjoy forced communal activities and harbour bourgeois tendencies towards individual gratification.

It is clearly the work of The Woke, who fail to understand that Christmas is a time for temporarily pretending to care about the plight of others in the God-ordained hierarchy of a market economy.

If Christmas begins too soon, it is impossible for ordinary, hardworking people to maintain performative empathy past Boxing Day and through The Week When Time Dissolves into the January sales.

So, let us once again give thanks to Suella Braverman: keeper of the national mores. In a stiff rebuke to those who might be tempted to prematurely suspend their legitimate concerns about immigration, the Home Secretary reminded us that only through suffering can we find redemption.

Next week, after the politicising of national mourning, homeless itinerants seeking temporary shelter will be all the rage.

For now, though, hear how the government planned to cull the elderly, watch the Holy Land burn, and keep the doors to your inn firmly locked.

Flags & Bones pulls together Ben Wildsmith’s sparkling and disruptive Nation.Cymru columns on politics, culture and sport and is available to pre-order from Cambria Books.

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18 days ago

Ffantastig eto

18 days ago

We’ve been enjoying slices of Lidl stollen and a glass of microwaved gluhwein after our dinners for the past three weeks. Our adult daughter is on a determined one-woman mission to find a supplier of fino sherry where she lives. Our tree will go up on 1 December. Extended Christmas, before and after, is for the adults, especially the dypsomaniacs, we find. We can make our Yule last six weeks minimum. The over-excited kids are other people’s responsibilty, at long last. I wish them joy of it. I’ve done my time. When Braverman declared that street-sleeping is “a lifestyle choice”… Read more »

Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
16 days ago
Reply to  Marion

You can easily get Tio Pepe in most UK supermarkets.
I have toured the Tio Pepe bodega in Jerez. It is the genuine article.

15 days ago
Reply to  Nobby Tart

Even the Waitrose in the Oxfordshire market town where she lives had none when she last looked, so either an aggressive collective of CofE vicars has stripped the shelves, or there has been a shortage elsewhere in the supply chain. I loved my trip to a Jerez sherry house, years ago, and I can recommend doing a similar visit to Graham’s port house in Oporto, and Hennessy in Cognac (which includes a delightful little river trip). Yes, I am also an inveterate boozy tourist…!

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
18 days ago

The article is spot on with the commercialisation of Christmas. We can all have the joys of giving and a little time off the market economy duty to work just so long as the business makes a profit. But take a wee bit more time off and you are a lazy f**k who doesn’t want to earn earn and earn to keep the company and country growing, the good old Thatcher way. I’m not really a socialist but even so the country could do with far more of it these days to offset the I’m all right jack, markets rule… Read more »

David RJ Lloyd
David RJ Lloyd
17 days ago

what a superbly crafted humorous piece, awesome

Last edited 17 days ago by David RJ Lloyd
16 days ago

Hyfryd unwaith eto Ben

John Brooks
John Brooks
14 days ago


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