the brilliantly leaping gazelle

The misanthrope’s advent calendar – day 24

One thing I hate about christmas – and there are a lot – is the hypocrisy it reveals. Now there’s a certain amount of lies, white lies, that are necessary for the smooth functioning of the social order lest petty squabbles don’t become drunken arguments that then escalate into crime scenes. When a delighted ‘Oh, its wonderful!’ or an enthusiastic rush to try something on might easily have avoided any violent unpleasantness on christmas day.

No, the hypocrisy to which I refer is to that particular brand of cant, practiced by the cants in this government who have not only designed a such harsh welfare system for the poorest in society, but their equally complicit fellow travelers who have voted these measures into law.

I’m thinking of James Brokenshire, the Housing Minister who said in relation to Office of National Statistics figures reporting deaths of homeless, rough sleepers and others, had increased to 600 last year,  blamed other factors

It was as if these tragic deaths had somehow occurred in a vacuum and not partly due to successive cuts to welfare provision and mental health services. I fully accept that the welfare bill needs cutting, its just at a figure in of £93 billion a year, it should be the corporate welfare bill tat should be cut. What about the monarchy?

How are we living in anything like a just society when those in control of taxpayers funds deem some costs somehow more worthy than others. The queen lives on state benefits. She holidays at our expense. Are the D.W.P ever told about her leaving the country? She has numerous dwellings around the country, but does the D.W.P ask her what happens when she’s not there? Or even when she is there? How many bedrooms can one person sleep in at a time? So is she being sanctioned for under occupancy? Her eldest son runs a business. Are the D.W.P investigating him for fraud or is he taking the biscuit? One of her grandchildren gets married and we pay for it?

What other pensioner would get an £ 82 million payment to help cover the cost of doing up the electrics at her gaffs?

In what way exactly isn’t she a benefit cheat?

Additionally, the hypocrisy of those in this government who champion free speech and bang on about how one of the most important functions the press is to hold government to account, sunlight being a disinfectant and other blah. Yet then are oddly quiet when this government imposes conditions on charities and other groups that receive government funding of not making any comments critical of this government’s welfare policy.

Now I’m sure Iain Duncan-Smith and Amber Rudd are generous and caring individuals to their friends, kind and forgiving when they want to be, but on the evidence of policies he’s enacted and she’s carrying forward proves that they don’t want be generous, caring, kind or forgiving very often.

But in my opinion the worst kind of hypocrites are those who bemoan the rampant poverty and injustice in society, yet have no qualms about voting Conservative. Its staggering beyond words how people can reconcile the two. There wouldn’t be a Conservative government if people didn’t keep voting for one, or not voting Labour.

They’re the biggest cants!

The misanthrope’s advent calendar – day 23

One thing I hate about christmas – and there are a lot – is the christmas catwalk. Whilst you probably haven’t been consciously aware of it so as to name it, you will have seen it and increasingly so in recent years. And it doesn’t always take place on christmas day either, although whilst it is highly likely, any day after christmas day is a good day to see some garments. But christmas day is when you’ll most likely see all the wearable presents someone can possibly leave the house with being paraded.

For as we as a society have become less abashed at flaunting our material trappings and more blatant in displaying our good fortune in an obviously ‘look at me’ way, we are doing helping to perpetuate the cycle of acquisitive consumer greed.

This trend for conspicuous spectacle, to be seen by as many people as possible is both a reflection of, and a savage indictment of a society that will, ultimately consume the planet to death. Not the death of the planet, but rather the death of the human race. And this is a good thing, as no sensible person taking a sober and rational analysis of humanity’s effects on the planet can judge it to be as anything other than an unmitigated disaster.

The planet on which we live is 4.6 billion years old – and you’ll recall that a billion is a million millions – whilst the modern form of humans only evolved about 200,000 years ago. Civilization as we know it is only about 6,000 years old, and industrialization started in the earnest only in the 1800s. While we’ve accomplished much in that short time, what we have accomplished isn’t much to be proud of. Since the Industrial Revelation, mankind – well the tycoons and businessmen anyway – have plundered the planets resources for their own short-term rapacious financial self-interest.

In years to come, that is if there are future generations to ask the question that is, they might reasonably ask ‘ But you knew what you were doing was causing irreparable harm to the planet. Temperatures were rising, so were sea levels, habitats were disappearing, species were becoming extinct, ice caps were melting, weather extremes were occurring with greater regularity all this and more you knew. The warning signs were unmistakable. And you did nothing, or what you did do was so utterly dwarfed by the sheer enormity and complexity of the problem. But heck, at least some of you drove electric cars. Mind you, you didn’t stop having children did you? More mouths, more consumers, living in less space and exacerbating the problems. Thanks for that. Cheers.’

Humanity deserves to suffer the same fate it subjected the dodo and knowingly condemns other species to.

The misanthrope’s advent calendar – day 22

One thing I hate about christmas – and there are a lot – are walks on Christmas day. I’ve the rather questionable pleasure of being subjected to more of these than I would wish and I never wished for them in the first place.

These walks are compulsory, I mean if one can withstand the sideways looks, condemnatory mutterings, barbed comments for a few days, heated but whispered arguments with your winter warmer in the bedroom you share with the thin walls in their parents house. And it was always in a partners parents house, more often than not the first time I’d actually met them, where I’d be trying to cultivate a good impression of me. Displaying anything other than raring enthusiasm to go out for a post christmas dinner walk wasn’t a great way to help achieve it.

I mean, is it only me or is the clue is right there in the name? It isn’t christmas breakfast or lunch, it’s christmas dinner and as dinners are usually eaten later on in the day, and it starts getting dark in December at about 3pm. So the question is, who in their right mind would go for a walk – willingly – in the cold and dark, when option b is to stay toasty in the warm and drink some more champagne?

I’ll tell you who.

Parents who suspect that you’re not ‘the right sort’ for the fruit of their loins and want their suspicions confirmed. Parents who under the guise of putting you at your ease, do the very opposite. Parents who insist on playing cherished family games, with impenetrable rules, which abound with ’You had to be there’ anecdotes, as hilarious to them as they are bewildering to you. Parents for whom it never occurs to them that you too might be sizing them up in exactly the same way and might find them wanting.

Parents whom are the butt of the joke of this John Lewis advert.

And above all, parents, who when you’ve decided you never want to see them or their children ever again, think it a good idea to take up your challenge to play against them as a family at ’Trivia Pursuits’.

It wasn’t.

The misanthrope’s advent calendar – day 21

One thing I hate about christmas – and there are many – is stealth alcohol.

I mean alcohol can be bad enough, but stealth alcohol is another thing altogether – and a special prize for anyone who knew there was a reference there to be had! Stealth alcohol is, as the name implies, alcohol masquerading as something entirely innocuous, mainly in food, especially at Christmas.

A good example is brandy butter. Not the kind you buy, which has flavourings that taste like brandy, but homemade brandy butter. Yes such a thing exists. People do make it and insist on having it with mince pies, of which they have an endless supply of, and try to eat them all. My recollection of homemade brandy butter gets a bit blurred towards the end.

Which is nothing as compared to the hidden potential of trifle. Now here I must make a confession. As a young boy on holiday in Ireland, my Aunt left my Uncle and myself to make a trifle for a family Sunday lunch. Fine. Everything was going gangbusters when we discovered there was no sherry to be had. Panic! Until disaster was averted when my Uncle thankfully discovered a bottle of whiskey. It was only later that it struck me that he might have engineered the whole thing. Anyway, he invited me to pour. Gingerly ay first I did and then I saw the smile spreading across his face and as he was my favourite Uncle and I wanted to please him, I kept on pouring.

To this day, I’m not certain how much I emptied into the trifle, but I do remember all the adults tucking in with gusto and each time I was there we’d always make trifle.

So beware Christmas trifles.

Another example is of course setting fire to the Christmas pudding, which whilst a quaint anachronism to every other family I’ve spent Christmas day with, the family who made their own brandy butter certainly weren’t backwards in coming forwards on this either. As the brandy had made its way onto the table, they seemed incredibly reluctant to see it leave.

Thus my recollection of that christmas dinner is bit frayed around the edges.

The misanthrope’s advent calendar – day 20

One thing I hate about christmas – and there are a lot – is being a passenger in a distant relatives car.

Basically with anyone I didn’t know, but had to be polite to.

Admittedly this doesn’t happen so much now, what with me not being a child, and having my own car – which for the good of other road users I don’t drive – but when it did it simply confirmed how correct was low opinion of most other people.

Because as a child, pretty much all my chauffeuring duties were undertaken by my mother, so much so that I believed that the only way to drive was by being mindful both of speed and distance from the car in front, giving indication of a maneuver well in advance and also observing the basic rule of physics. Namely, a moving object will carry on moving at the same speed if a similar object close to it suddenly stops. As a child, this obvious and irrefutable fact seemed beyond the understanding of other users of the motorway system.

So as far as possible, for selfish reasons – like wanting to keep my blood inside my body – I resisted travelling as a passenger in a car driven by someone who didn’t match the high standards my mother had set. Quite why women drivers were considered less capable than men – trust me, when I was a child, they were – always baffled me, because the worst drivers were always men. On one occasion when my brother was driving far in excess of his ability, I asked him to pull over so I could get out.

So being a passenger in a distant relatives car was nerve-wracking not just because of their driving ability or lack thereof, but also because of the stilted conversation, rich with bland platitudes uttered in the forlorn hope that something could be started that would prevent an awkward silence. A silence which would become increasingly more awkward the longer into the journey it lasted but the longer it lasted, the more it was destined to last. Like a self- perpetuating, never ending vortex of agony, the silence would become almost deafening in its intensity. Because, as Obi Wan Kenobi said ‘There has been a great disturbance in the force.’ in cases such as these, when a new dynamic is thrust into a well ordered system, in which the behavioral rhythms established over time, the in-jokes and easy comfortableness of a routine is abandoned on the altar of being festive.

The misanthrope’s advent calendar – day 19

One thing I hate about christmas – and there are many – is C and E churchgoers. I don’t mean Church of England god botherers, who bother god in a very polite, English way and sing hymns in a such a turgid and mournful way, its almost as if they’re trying to create the dead. If god did exist – and no he, she, or it doesn’t – possibly they might think ’They’re singing songs in praise of me. That’s great and everything, but why must they sound so miserable.’ I was going to write as miserable as a Smiths song, but the very existence of the Smiths is proof that god – any god – is a fairy story,

Before I stroll with gay abandon down tangent street and suggest that The Smiths chart success proves not only that god doesn’t exist, but also that the devil does, let me first explain what I mean by C and E churchgoers. They are people who go to church only at christmas and easter, and when they do, are horrified by all the religious content.

As a child I used to be an altar boy – but now I presume times have changed and the church promotes equality in indoctrination – and was entertained by the new faces at christmas, who were both unsure of what to do and when and were reluctant about singing in public.

I was reminded of this last night, when one of the people I share a house with, was describing the carol service he’d taken his daughter to at a nearby church. Now, had the carol service been held in a community centre or a school then yes, I’d fully understand his remarking on the ratio of religion to carols as reasoned criticism. But when you go to a church?

Complaining about the religious content one finds in a carol service in a church is like attending an orgy but complaining you have to go bareback!

 

 

The misanthrope’s advent calendar – day 18

 

Another thing that annoys me about christmas – and there are many – is the Coca Cola christmas advert. For anyone still not wholly convinced of my misanthropy, what follows is I hope proof of it.

The Coca Cola advert depicts, for those who haven’t seen it, a convoy of brightly lit Coca Cola lorries, making its way through a snowy countryside like series of Las Vegas carnival floats designed by Liberace. One the destinations is passes through is a small town in America, where news of this visual abomination has spread to the extent that throngs of people have inexplicably gathered by the side of the road to welcome its arrival. A small town in America where the seemingly the residency laws chime perfectly with the principles of the KluKlaxKlan and Francis Galton. A young boy races to get a glimpse of it, his eagerness matched only by his annoyingly wholesomeness.

Anyway, the convoy is driving through the town, people are cheering and unfortunately, the young boy arrives just in time to see the back of the last lorry leaving town. He breaks free of the crowds and steps into the road and every time I see it, I hope that the boy gets splattered by another truck that he hasn’t seen.

The misanthrope’s advent calendar – day 17

The queen’s speech on christmas day, quite aside from the fact that the very idea of a monarchy still existing in the second decade of the twenty-first century, quite aside from it helping to perpetuate the notion of a hierarchical structure of society, where everyone should know their place and show due deference where needed.

Quite aside from these and many other reasonable objections to the monarchy, the most pertinent reason not to like the queen’s speech on christmas day is because it’s a bit of a downer.

I’m well aware that there are many things you can say about this queen, but witty raconteur isn’t one of them. I know that intimates and other flunkeys who know their place say that she is quite funny, however, they have vested in suggesting that there exists a side to her we have never seen. For appearances sake, to appear regal, we are told, she has successfully managed to keep this side of her personality hidden. Shouldn’t she at least crack a smile once in a while, we pay for everything else she does, we might as well pay for the stitches? I mean, I can’t be the only one to have observed that she mainly laughs or looks animated only when confronted by a creature with four legs.

And also, the idea of an elderly woman on living on state benefits – which is after all what she is – telling us what a difficult year she has had or how many holidays she’s had, is both grossly insulting and a profound lack of awareness to the actually hardship endured by the people who fund her lifestyle. Not in the cosseted circles of lickspittles, toadys and hangers on in which she mixes, but in the real world in which real people live. Only last week the Joseph Rowntree Foundation produced a scathing report on the plight of pensioners who have to choose between heating or food, as they can’t afford both. The Queen is spared such vulgar realities.

What is amazing is not that I don’t have time for the Queen, but that many people do and at 3pm on Christmas Day to boot.

 

 

 

 

The misanthrope’s advent calendar – day 16

One thing that annoys me about christmas – and there are many – are ‘Bingo presents’. So called because they are presents received but not opened or tampered with, that belie no sense whatsoever of ever having been a present. In this way, the recipient can then re-wrap it the next year so that they can wrap it up and pass it on. Perhaps you know as something else, but whatever there called, they suffer the exact same fate. I mean, we’ve all done it, some more than others; it’s like shoplifting, but without a criminal record.

This money saving tactic is usually reserved for friends and relatives you rarely see and neatly solves the problem of what to get them, if they visit unannounced, or both. This goes hand in hand with the ideal way to open any present, which is to be looking down when you open the present so as to conceal your initial reaction to it, and then to raise your head with a beaming smile and exclaim ‘Oh, it’s just what I wanted!’

For me, the ultimate in a bingo present are Guylain chocolates, because everyone likes a box of chocolates at Christmas and they suggest a level of expenditure that both isn’t cheap or extravagant. It’s a present that everyone can feel good about. I mean, I doubt if anyone has been into a shop and actually bought a box of Guylain chocolates since 2012. Quite possibly just like Saturn, there’s a ring of Guylain chocolates just doing the rounds, being passed on year after year, until their sell-by-date has expired (although it didn’t stop my partner’s mother once getting an edible present that was long past its sell-by-date).

Of course, the inherent problem with bingo presents – and the reason that I call them bingo presents – is the risk of you giving someone a bingo present that they gave you a few years earlier! To no-ones surprise, this week we discovered that Donald Trump Jar has suffered this fate at the hands of his father! From ‘birther’ to ‘re-gifter’!

Is there start to this presidents talents?

The misanthrope’s advent calendar – day 15

One thing that I hate about christmas – and there are many – are supermarket food adverts. At a time of austerity, when the use of food banks is increasing, it seems wholly incongruous for supermarkets to run adverts that portray tables laden with all manner of delicious foods, when for a quite a sizeable amount of the population it is not going to be their experience of Christmas.

So much for the reality for millions of Britons of savage austerity, food banks and Universal Credit. Which seems extremely counter intuitive as supermarkets are brands and brands want to be seen as inclusive as possible or equally important not to be seen as excluding or marginalizing anyone from their conversation, for fear of creating a social media backlash leading to a consumer boycott and a falling share price, giving their competitors a market advantage. Because, as Gore Vidal once said, “It is not enough that I succeed but others must fail.”

I understand that supermarkets through their advertising have to promulgate the myth that in buying the right kind of food – which just happens to be their food – you too will have the right party with the right amount of guests – the right combination of colours, genders and ages. Every table is laden with food in abundance and everyone is dressed to impress, bedecked in their finery. And no-one will be standing alone in a corner!

And then the ads become news stories in themselves; John Lewis cornered the market in ‘heartwarming’ Christmas ads, but Iceland went one better this year and had their advert banned! Apparently, it broke rules about political campaigning, highlighting as it did their removing palm oil from their own brand products.

 

However the latest Sainsbury’s advert is but the latest vomit fest, a rip off a rubbish film ‘Love Actually’ which if it were a soft drink would be banned due to its high sugar content.

 

 

Just once I’d like a supermarket to run an advert showing a stock image with a voiceover explaining that, instead of producing a lavish advert, they had instead donated the entire cost to a homeless charity!