Thursday, 10 December 2009

Peace on earth? Err ...

How the blummin heck did it get to Christmas time already? Since right after Halloween we have been drowning in images of snow, baubles and rosy-cheeked children sitting on the knee of that bloke in red who calls himself Santa, all in the hope of becoming warm and fuzzy. Ah yes, peace on earth! Merry Christmas! Good will to all men ...? Did the people who came up with these phrases ever go Christmas shopping?

As a newcomer to London, I naively decided to meander casually down to Oxford Circus for what I assumed would be a quick dash of Christmas shopping. What I discovered was essentially pure pandemonium. Imagine a plague of rats haphazardly running towards a tiny block of cheese ...except, in reality, we were the rats and the block of cheese was Selfridges. There were queues, seemingly at a standstill, in every direction, frantic elbows shoving everything aside in a fight for survival, along with hysterical yells from adults and children alike.

Where was the good will when a crazy woman barged past my shoulder with her bulging Harrods bag without so much as a glance behind her? Or the festive cheer when a woman drove through a red light and then shouted at me for getting in her way? Sure, we all want a peace, love and happiness-filled Christmas but to what lengths will we go to get it?

This whole jovial “on the twelfth day of Christmas my true love said to me” vibe is juxtaposed with this ruthless must-buy-at-all-costs consumerist mentality and it’s as though we all suddenly turn into shadows of our reasonably sane selves. Although I’m admittedly fairly grumpy, I’d like to think that I’m a good person who actually begrudgingly cares about people know, in an abstract, don’t-make-too-much-physical-contact-with-me kind of way.

But as I stood in a queue, with an OAP counting out £5.99 in coppers on the counter to my left and to my right an exasperated mum who thought it was a good idea to take her four young kids Christmas shopping during peak time, I actually thought to myself without any reservation: “I hate people. I actually hate every single person in this shop.” Well, Santa, what do you make of that?! Hardly the “ding dong merrily on high” thing we were going for, right?

Throughout all this havoc all I could think was: “Can we all just chill the hell out?!” If we did then maybe I’d be able to appreciate the jolliness, the Christmas carols and the “good will” speil – and isn’t that a large part of what Christmas is supposed to be about? Last time I checked, a cat fight over the latest iPhone wasn’t a key feature in the nativity scene.

Shocked by my own Hyde-like transformation, I removed myself from the situation, called it a day and embarked on the slow and overcrowded journey home.

My next stop? Internet shopping – it’s a beautiful thing. Read more by Selina.