... sandy beach, sitting on a sun bleached deckchair, sipping ice-cold beer from a condensation covered glass, basking in thirty degree heat, and as far removed from the seasonal tyrrany of tinsel, turkey and kitsch that has become the Great American... er British Christmas.
If it seems like months now that we've been bombarded by ads with every B list "celeb" you can think of exhorting us to buy more food and booze than it's humanly possible to consume let alone enjoy (and lets face it half the crap they're peddling isn't even that enjoyable) that's because the run up to this next fortnight of saturnalian excess began in October. The pressure to indulge is overwhelming, and, not to put too fine a point on it, it's ruining the whole thing. The expectations now for this few days of "quality time" with the family are quite literally crushing, and it's making my punters irredeemably miserable. The only ones who have seemed at all cheerful have been the odd few who are taking this opportunity to jet for for an Antipodean Xmas with barbies on the beach and more sun than you can shake a boomerang at. Frankly I'm envious as hell. It doesn't help that this weekend we had temperatures of -5 centigrade (yes I know it's colder elsewhere, but once it gets anywhere below freezing it's inhumanly cold in my book), but it's more than that.
The expectation heaped onto this next few days is quite unreasonable, and must inevitably end in dissappointment, yet still we are all sucked in, lemming like, to the collective madness. When we come out the other side we'll still all owe tens of thousands to the economy that has tried to kid us for years that we can have something for nothing, the planet will still be melting, however counterintuitive that feels right here, right now, and all the attendant woes of famine plague and pestillence will continue. The unwinnable "War on Terror" will be grinding on its relentless way and our poor long suffering servicemen and women will still be struggling to deliver "peace with honour" in a conflict that offers neither, and will still be constrained to do so on a shoestring budget because we've poured all the cash away bailing out the banks. No so much "the economy, stupid!" as the "stupid economists". And us for believing in their voodoo.
If ever there was a time to take stock and rethink our priorities it's now. Not that we will. We'll all be too busy crowding out the stores and piling in supplies, one third of which we'll not use, and scrabbling around for those last minute gifts for "what's her name down the street that we thought wasn't going to give us anything this year but did".
So let me be the first to wish you Happy Next Christmas!
(Usual VECHN* for the closest guess to the date of my first "Happy Christmas" of the year from a punter)
*If you don't know what this is have a trawl through my misanthropoic back catalogue-- if you can be bothered at all, though I would'nt blame you for not. I'm in such a happy place right now. You can tell right?