Enjoying yourself seems to be one of the most stressful pastimes we have in England. As I walk through high streets or hear the agonising cries of the overly laden on trains home, it seems the pressure to have fun is so great, the image of the hoped for enjoyment so magnificent, that the reality can never match up. Your Christmas will not have the cinematography of a Marks and Spencer advert, without the expertise of lighting, your snacks will fail even to attain the glamour of an Iceland prawn ring. The drinks will neither refresh as much as the actor’s delight at Baileys and the nostalgia will neither bear up to that of a tea dipped cake or even a butterscotch shop memory.
If we cut out trying to enjoy ourselves, I am certain people would be much happier.
I would happily spend Christmas eating a ready meal or a bowl of porridge (which as ready meals go, is more easily ready than most) and just enjoy the enforced “not doing anything”. I already know that I have loads of brilliant Christmas presents. In the last month, I haven’t opened any non-essential post. I have told my wife I will consider the unopened magazines, book orders and publisher’s oddities and occasional CDs that get sent to me, to be her gifts to me. No wrapping required, a quick rip of brown paper and sometimes a sortie into bubble wrap.
“Fun” seems to have become a yoke. Some of us have been lucky enough to reach a life where, buy the standards of most centuries, being human is surprisingly pain free and our possibilities are predominantly positive. But there is something about that which doesn’t quite feel right. With access to heating, water, food, entertainment and beauty, we must still find something wrong. We will find out struggle and our pain, and we won’t stop looking until we find them, even if we find them in easy to opt out social or consumer scenarios.
Agent Smith said it all before.
“Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world. Where none suffered. Where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program.”
Our fripperies must be perfect or life is agony.
If the venison cutlets are wrongly seasoned, we must drop to our knees, howl and weep, and beg for our dinner party guests’ apologies.
We spend our spare hours shopping, desperately browsing for things we don’t need and then getting them home and being angry that we didn’t manage to find the thing we really wanted, maybe because there was nothing we truly wanted in the first place.
A pub cannot be a pub – it must be an event. The simple act of getting drunk requires the style conscious inebriate to dismiss the decor, jukebox, or “vibe”. No more is a carpet without gaffer tape repairs and a choice of three flavours of crisps enough. We must make sure we are sicking back up something far more stylish in the mirror tiled urinal by chucking out time.
So, stop worrying about your little pastries for that Boxing day drinks do. Don’t feel a burden of melancholy and fear because you think your tinsel may not be this year’s brand. Who gives a toss if your mulled wine is a bit pithy. If you’ve got friends who’ll judge you on your mince pie pastry or your choice of crackers, change your fucking friends.
There is the agony of gift giving. The hope you have bought the right thing, or at least that the recipient will be able to fake joy for long enough for you to convince yourself that lime scented, neon figurine of Lester Piggott was what they really wanted. The simple act of present giving has become a 4 month ordeal of high streets and vain hopes that a catalogue will drop through the letterbox and be that one that has everything.
“Please Past Times, have everything I need in Tudor or Edwardian style. let there be table mats suitable for all” (I now realise that Past Times went into administration. Sadly, we can feel nostalgia for a shop that sold nostalgia). Like all the above mentioned tasks of Christmas, in this self-conscious age, we become terrified that we will be hideously and scrupulously judged at this time of forgiveness and family.
Well, I am rubbish at Christmas. As long as I can build my son’s Lego (please, let no one have got him the Death Star, damn that looks hard) and as long as I notice that for one day, just one day of the year, if you go outside, everything does seem a little quieter, then I will be happy. Have a very happy Christmas.
(my thoughts go to all those salespeople who must suffer getting up at 3am so the flatulent herd can break off Christmas as soon as possible to start shopping again at the Boxing Day sales. Is two shopping free days a year really too much for a society. You could always browse the internet for a day as your fingers tap and toes twitch, desperately waiting to bullishly charge at clothes rails with savagely reduced, distressed knitwear)
I am back on tour in the new year with new shows, some new solo shows, some new shows with Grace Petrie and Josie Long, as well as the return of Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire and Dirty Book Club. all that hullabaloo is HERE
Tip Top Chris Hadfield interview is amongst additions to http://www.cosmicgenome.com on Christmas Eve, plus Android friendly version available from Boxing Day.