What The Professor Loves About Christmas, and What I am Less Keen On

For non-London types and others, here is unexpurgated piece on love and hate of Christmas from this week’s Time Out

Ten reasons I hate Christmas 

  1. I hate Christmas because it’s no longer at Christmas. I thought Christmas worked very well, when towards mid December, there was a sense of festivity. Now that the first adverts involving Santa and reduced meat cuts starts while I am still having to put on factor 30 sunscreen (I am a pale and delicate individual), it is joyless bombardment. Wizzard wished it could be Christmas every day, well Wizzard, beware what you wish for, it is almost true now.
  2. This constant Christmas also means that I forget that, at some point, it really will be Christmas day. The Christmas lights grow banal and then suddenly, it’s 24th December and it really is Christmas now. And thus a hurtle around with the other dimwits attempting to find the least offensive present with the greatest illusion of depth of thought. (but last christmas I gave you my heart…well you donated, not given)
  3. I hate Christmas as my wife does not disguise her dislike or disappointment at gifts she doesn’t like. We all know you are meant to rip the paper off, smile falsely but hugely and say, “a hedge trimmer! how wonderful. I’ve been needing a constant reminder that I should grow a hedge on my maisonette balcony”, not “oh, oh dear, this really will not do. Why did you think I would like such a top. I presume you have the receipt”. Sometimes I just wrap up the receipt to save time.
  4. Every year I am told, but you are not allowed to celebrate at Christmas, you’re an atheist. Well guess what sonny, yes I can. Because I have no deity or commandments written on stone, I can eat a plum pudding and pull a cracker and even sing a carol if I want. I haven’t actually had a plum pudding, but I can if I want. 
  5. People who started the night dressed in clothes that they have spent months shopping for, their very best, now slumped and torn and sweaty, the sick barely dry on their lips, wobbling and snoring and weeping on the late night trains. The more stylish the outfit is, the more ugly the boozed out demeanor is. 
  6. I hate the fact that I can never remember who Good King Wenceslas was. Every year we look it up, but by the time the carol singers come around again, a vague memory of being the king of Bohemia remains. 
  7. Dachshunds that sneak out the door and ruin pudding. One Christmas, my whole family were together, no feuding, everyone was happy. Unfortunately, my sister had been put in charge of a friend’s Dachshund. Using the sound of the cracker bangs to mask its escape, the sausage dog sneaked out. This led to two days of searching fields and much weeping, “oh my god, what will Jo say when it turns out we’ve lost her dog’. Then the bloody thing pattered in the day after boxing day, but by then the pudding was cold. So don’t trust Dachshunds at Christmas. 
  8. Yes yes, I know the story about Father Christmas only being dressed in red because of Coca Cola, it’s not even true and I am not interested. 
  9. I hate all the images of Christmas sold by department store adverts that terrify people into believing they must make “the perfect Christmas”. After months of christmas choreography, marzipan making, fake snow sculpting and brandy wrangling, it only takes the fairy on the tree moving to a skewiff angle and it’s all tears and “it’s not how it was meant to be”. Relax! It’s just Christmas. Have a drink, like your family, enjoy a day without commuting or working, the food need only be edible and the company happy. This also goes for extreme present competition. I don’t want any, I am happier than you might imagine. 
  10. Why colourise Alastair Sim’s Scrooge. It may be black and white but the colour is in the supreme performance by Sim. No Scrooge has ever so clearly seen the error of his ways and the joy of life than Sim’s. If I had my way not only would no black and white films be colourised in gaudy pinks and android fleshtones, but no films would be made in colour at all. Down with technicolor, up with monochrome. 
  11. London Christmas lights that promote some new film, the idea of a sequel to It’s A Wonderful Life, Christmas alcoholic drinks that are phlegmy, people who send a text to everyone in their contacts saying “Happy Christmas to you all”, it is e meaningless gesture unless personal, thank you but no, Chris De Burgh’s Spaceman song, January sales beginning on Boxing day, take a whole 48 hours off shopping, go on, you might like it, oh the list goes on. 

 

BRIAN COX’S WHY I LOVE CHRISTMAS

1.I wish it could be Christmas every day, when the bells starts ringing and bands begin to play.

Robin interrupts, “you can’t just recite songs, you have to say things you actually love”

2.Oh ok, well it is an alibi for me to talk about the stars. i am always looking for excuses to start telling people about the stars and how we are all made of atoms forged in fiery stellar furnaces. Christmas is a wonderful time to think about the night sky, a moment to pause, breathe in, and look upwards at the majesty of a tableau that 13.798 ± 0.037 billion years ago was something of infinite density and no mass.

ROBIN: That’s better, that’s what people like to hear you saying

3. I loved the nativity plays, I was always one of the wise men because I could point so well, everyone would trust me. Though i would get told off when i explained some of the astronomical errors in the tale of following the star and I was asked to lave the stage when I started mapping out where the wise men would have actually got to and the difficulty of finding something as small as a stable in such conditions.

I also love simply having a wonderful Christmas time, the moon is out…

ROBIN: hang on, you are just quoting a Paul Mccartney song

BRIAN: no, no, honestly I wasn’t, i was going to say that when the moon is out around Christmas it is one of the perfect times to observe its craters.

ROBIN: were you?

BRIAN: Maybe.

ROBIN: Okay, what’s number 5. 

4. I love a good singalong – when we are all gathered together and I sit at the piano and play all of the hits I was involved with, like Things Can Only Get Better and the other ones.

ROBIN: what other ones?

BRIAN: there’s no time for that now, I am sure the readers are well aware of them. 

5. I love the fact that it is an enforced holiday, however much of a workaholic you are, you can’t work on Christmas day or Boxing Day. Sitting around, drinking, not pointing at anything at all. The chance to sink into a sofa and drink wine and not think about muons, gluons, up or down quarks for at least 24 hours. By the time it’s boxing day, I’ll be back to equations and thinking particles again, but it is good to sluice out the scientific brain with some Chablis every now and again. it worked for Tycho Brahe, but he did have a false nose and he got his elk drunk and it died falling down the stairs. 

6. Though I like to think as rationally as possible, I also love Christmas stories, however ridiculous they may seem to be. I think one of the most intriguing ones tells the story of a spaceman who came travelling on his ship from afar, twas light years of time since his mission did start…

ROBIN:No Chris DeBurgh.

BRIAN: It might not be Chris De Burgh, it might be a science story I know.

ROBIN: What, and you would usually use light years as a measurement of time rather than distance?

BRIAN: damn. you’ve got me there

7. I also love making Reindeer poo. Ensuring that father christmas’s visit appears to be as believable as possible has moved up a gear since I was a kid. It’s not enough to leave a glass of port out for him then knock it back while your children are asleep. You have to start working in Nutella and peanut butter to create the idea of incontinent reindeer.

8. I suppose, when I sum it all up, I think, and so this is Christmas , and what have you done, another year over, and a new year just begun, a very merry Christmas

ROBIN: Oh to hell with it, I’ll let you have that one.

and so John Lennon sings, we all hold hands and hope

Happy Christmas

Our Compendium of Reason is on at Hammersmith Apollo on 12th and 14th December – Ross Noble, Ben Goldacre, Andrea Sella, Festival of Spoken Nerd, Josie Long (14th only) Billy Bragg (12th only) Phill Jupitus and Neil Innes (12th Only) Chris Addison (14th only) Alice Roberts (14th only) Helen Czerski (12th)  Rufus Hound (12th) and loads more . Tickets HERE

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11 Responses to What The Professor Loves About Christmas, and What I am Less Keen On

  1. Alastair Sim’s Scrooge kicks arse! I’ve already watched it 3 times this month; black and white of course.

  2. Dave says:

    I haven’t been in the UK for a few years, so I haven’t kept up with the backwards-creeping Christmas season, I think it was still on November back then. In the (mostly Catholic) Philippines, trees went up, malls started blaring carols and I was greeted “happy holidays” from September 1st. Once you hit the ‘-ber’ months it’s an endurance challenge to keep up the festive spirit. I can’t say I’ve succeeded.

  3. Omg…I think you’ve got something there with your #2. Perhaps that’s why I’m never actually ready for Christmas when the actual day comes. Totally burned out by then!

  4. John Morhall says:

    You reminded me with the sausage dog story, of all of our guests sitting down to dinner and waiting for the leg of lamb, One of our two Great Dane’s took the leg, which was on the kitchen top cooling, and had eaten half of it by the time she was apprehended: her brother had the rest with consent, whilst we had steak for dinner!

    Why shouldn’t atheists enjoy this festival with all of its Pagan trimmings? Whereas probably orgies and sacrificial maidens are now passe but: pine trees, wine, singing, plum pudding, and poultry; and generally enjoying life sound pretty good to me.

  5. lanceleuven says:

    “Have a drink, like your family…”

    How do you know my family’s habits so well?

  6. Most of my Christmases have been spent in the southern hemisphere and they always seemed ridiculously out of place in +40C heat. A dumb colonial tradition brought from the old countries along with the rabbits, foxes and disastrous farming habits. Even more ridiculous seemed the idea of spending days sweating in a kitchen preparing a stodgy meat infested menu suitable only for frosty northern climes because it was expected traditional Christmas fare no antipodeans could be without. It was cruelty to women, I thought, and spent the day on the beach instead “scrooging” in the cooling pacific waves, eating prawns and drinking chilled champagne until sunset. I don’t feel compelled to celebrate Christmas anymore, no matter where in the world I happen to be, I resist the pressure of having to conform to a tradition that excludes so many from it’s excess materialism and false benevolence. I am free, I live for the moment, I watch the stars, I listen to John Lennon…

    • John Morhall says:

      Onya, but the Boxing Day Barbie is the best part of a Down Under Christmas, spending times with friends and just hanging out. Meat, perhaps but root vegetables go equally well, and yes, the blokes usually cook, admittedly paying simultaneously homage to to an amber fluid.

  7. Sally says:

    Christmas, an escape to Scotland, where we enjoy Aberdeen Angus, Aberdeen Russell, Aberdeen Emma, Aberdeen Blair…….. The celebration is saved for New Year’s Eve, food not essential but good company and drinks a must! They just have the priorities right up there 🙂

  8. andypiehead says:

    “Have a drink.
    Like your family.”
    Cos once you’ve sobered up, it’ll all go back to the Kin Hell business as usual.
    Bah. And, indeed, Humbug!
    PS Happy Mithras

  9. Sim’s was obviously the best, I can see young Cox making an excellent wise man, and now I shall go have a drink and like my family. I feel much more Christmas-y now.

  10. Reblogged this on somuchandsomuch and commented:
    Best list of things about the holidays that you will read this year. Maybe ever.

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