View from the Bridge: 38

by John Morrison


38: Festive Fare

We're cranking up for Christmas here in Milltown. The landlord at the Stoic has hidden the pub's collection of easy-listening CDs. His customers, who are already suffering from festive overload, will be 'entertained' by Christmas songs from the time he opens the door in the morning to the moment he locks it, with a sigh of relief, every night. A bizarrre notion: that anyone sane would want to hear, yet again, Roy Wood's probably certifiable request, {I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day}.

There's none of this Christmas nonsense at the Grievous Bodily Arms. The pub has, not surprisingly, been declared a festive-free zone, and any tin-rattling do-gooders with the temerity to cross the threshhold do so at their peril. Conversations with charity collectors or religious zealots tend to be brief and to the point. "Would you like a copy of {The Watchtower}?" "Would you like a ruptured spleen?"...

Yet even in a pub full of psychopathic malcontents, the landlord of the Grievous Bodily Arms is a man whose tastes for senseless violence put him in a league of his own. He'll happily regale his regulars with tales about all the Iraqis he killed during the Gulf War. Unfortunately he was living in Barnsley at the time.

"We only do it for the kids" is the clarion cry from the parents of Milltown, as they stack up their supermarket trollies with booze. For eleven months of the year they warn their kids about the dangers of accepting sweets from strangers. Then, before Christmas, these same kids are taken to Santa's Grotto, and sit on the knee of a portly paedophile with halitosis, a red outfit and a big white beard. It just goes to show that parents are the very last people who should have children.

The TV stations are going into overdrive, offering a festive cornucopia of 'Christmas Specials' and second-rate horror films. As though Christmas wasn't scary enough already. The schedules are building up to the cinematic crescendo that is Christmas Day. How strange that a James Bond film - and the threat of world domination - is seen to embody the authentic spirit of Christmas.

'Tis the Season to be Frugal, tra la la la la, la la la la... So it's only right to pass on a couple of useful tips for those who don't like to throw their money away at Christmas. On the last dustbin round before Christmas, leave your rubbish with neighbours. The binmen will assume you're on holiday, thus avoiding the embarrassing face-off - and a dustbin emptied unceremoniously into your front yard - when you refuse to give them a Christmas bonus.

And when the presents are piled up around the Christmas tree, economise by lobbing in some crumpled wrapping paper and a card. Everyone will assume that your present has already been opened, and will be too embarrassed to ask you what it was

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