Want to feel the Christmas spirit? There's a beautiful seasonal poem over at Ralph Murre's blog (http://caparem.blogspot.com ) that might get you in the mood. I wish I could write with that kind of grace and maturity!
I'm off to London for the day on a work-related mission. Getting a bus half way and then training into the smoke. I'd rather go all the way on the train, but it seems the great iron horse won't be passing through little Northampton on Christmas Eve. Well, I can't blame the rail company. I wouldn't be passing through Northampton if I had the choice either. I'd be staying at home, drinking too much, taking a cold back country walk, lying in front of the television getting depressed etc. etc.--all the things I like to do best.
When I get to London I probably won't stay long. In fact, I may just do the deed I have to do, then turn around and come home again. It's what I did last year when I was in the same situation. I always intend to make the most of the fact that my work are paying me to travel to the city I love, but at Christmas the freezing weather and the crowds are just too much. I have so many issues with the capitalist free-for-all that Christmas has become, I want to get on a box like John the Baptist or some drunken nut and yell at everybody for letting themselves be hoodwinked so completely. Which I have no more right to do than anybody else, being a "tragic figure," according to one correspondent on this page, but there you are. Like that correspondent, I hide behind a keyboard and sling my self-righteous insults.
Listening to the news this morning as I was drinking coffee and trying to wake up, I remembered: it used to be a joke among us cynics that at Christmas, the news programmes would suddenly rediscover their collective conscience and pack their airtime with stories about abandoned animals and the homeless. But that doesn't happen anymore. All you get in 2006 are stories about Christmas shopping on the high street and what it means for business and the economy (oh, and the usual stories about the war, and America picking on Muslim countries.) It's represents an obvious a shift in the priorities of our society in the last 20 or so years: back then you at least had to pretend that Christmas had something to do with religion; now you don't even have to do that. Which is more honest, in a way, but it's also very sad. Am I the only one who doesn't want to live in a society where the highest aspiration a man is supposed to have is to acquire more and more and more stuff?
Yes, I know, bah humbug. But the Christmas they want you to have sucks.
Buy NOTHING. If you have spare cash, give it to someone who needs it.
Tell somebody how precious they are to you.
Shut your eyes and try to feel the presence of a divine spirit.
That's Christmas. This is just shopping.