Sunday, 6 December 2009

Tis the season to be sullen


Few have failed to notice that the dreaded season is upon us – reclusive agoraphobics without a television excepted.

No doubt, your first instinct was to assume that I was talking about Christmas – groan – but, I’m afraid, you would be wrong.

At least when it comes to Christmas, we know what to expect. We know that the relentless advertising will begin in October, gently encouraging our descent into complete and insatiable consumerism.

Of course we know to expect the party invitations and excruciating ‘work do’, each one requiring time, effort and a new outfit – all this to spend time with people you barely speak to the rest of the year, creating an atmosphere in which you drink enough to make an alcoholic proud in a bid to make the whole event more bearable.

We realise that every shop, no matter what they sell, will bombard us with colourful promises of bargains that aren’t really bargains because we don’t really need them, but we buy them anyway as The Suits in the retail industry are very adept at making us think that we need their wares even though we wouldn’t ordinarily touch them. How can anyone resist a ‘buy one get one free’?

One of my favourite predictable aspects of the festive season is all the forced Christmas cheer; though I have to admit that I get a great amount of strange pleasure from witnessing those I know to be exquisitely evil pretending to be nice in the name of Christmas. Bah humbug to them all.

“Instead of wishing for sparkly things and useless tat, I wish us all journeys without delays, cancellations or crowding and I hope we all get to our destinations on time, dry, non-windswept and without murderous intentions.”

It is an anti-climactic holiday – I know and accept this – but I don’t mind as I am easily pleased: as long as I eat lots and spend ridiculous amounts of time in front of the television, I’m happy. I can handle it all because it’s as traditional as family arguments on Christmas Day and you know it’s coming. Rest assured, I am not a Grinch.

The dreaded season that I speak of is winter itself.

People always talk about how quickly Christmas rolls around again, but what about winter? Last year’s debacle is still fresh in my mind and it’s happening again!

I begin to get apprehensive as soon as the leaves start falling from the trees. It isn’t that it’s cold; you have to be used to the cold in this country no matter how much you hate it. No, my complaint is that winter seems to be inexplicably linked with ineptitude. How is it that weather conditions that are actually normal for the UK cause everything to fall apart?

It starts with the leaves because they inevitably cause delays on the decrepit railway system – leaves! Then the rain comes, not only making a mockery of your attempts to keep dry on your way to the bus stop/train station but also flooding underground and rail stations, closing them off completely and causing more hassle.

Then it snows – hateful stuff, snow – and all hell breaks loose: buses slide across roads and crash, leading to them being unable to provide any service at all.

We know it is capable of snowing in this country so how is it possible that we continue to be so ill-prepared? Other countries manage to deal with a massive amount of snow in an efficient manner but the UK falls to pieces. As usual, we are lagging so far behind that, despite the weather forecasts, we ran out of grit, yep, we ran out of grit. Laughable.

Whatever side of the climate change debate you are on, it can’t be denied that the weather seems to be getting worse which can only lead to fallen trees and landslides on the railways and all manner of ensuing drama.

So, as the season approaches, instead of wishing for sparkly things and useless tat, I am actually wishing us all straight forward journeys without delays, cancellations or crowding, and I hope we all get to our destinations on time, dry, non-windswept and without murderous intentions.

I wish for the employees of our Councils to have enough sense to put some of our extortionate taxes to good use in order to grit the roads and pavements to prevent us all falling on our arses.

Alternatively, I wish you skin that doesn’t bruise easily and strong bones, and I suggest waterproofs, padding and leaving early. Let’s face it; wishful thinking will get us nowhere so it is up to us to do what we can to avoid the trauma of a winter wonderland.

Sing it with me: “Tis the season to be sullen, tra la la la la, la la la laaaaaaaaa.” Read more by Shermaine.