Christmas 2012: My lessons learned

Way-hey! I’ve just “done” Christmas! And because I am all grown-up and have to take in relatives and stuff, I get to moan about it too! Hey, fellow grown-ups – isn’t Christmas just crap? Don’t you just hate all the hassle? I know I do – and yet, I also don’t. I’ve had a good Christmas, me. And even the bits that have pissed me off have possessed their own special charm.

Hence in a spirit of positivity – and fueled by way too much booze – I’ve compiled my own list of Christmas lessons learned. So here’s what Christmas 2012 has taught me – could this teach you, too?: Continue reading

Violence at Christmas: Peering through the frosted windows

When the brilliant @therealsgm mentioned she was organising a bloghop as part of 16 Days of Action on Violence against Women, my almost-instant reaction was “I know! I’ll write something on VAW at Christmas!” Not because I’ve experienced it myself or because I’m an expert on the subject, you understand. Merely because I love Christmas almost as much as I hate violence against women, therefore … Well, anyhow, I didn’t think the general ignorance would be a problem. I assumed it would just be easy to look up stuff on the internet. Turns out it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to write about it.

To begin with I was obviously going to adopt a smug, pseudo-saintly position, from which I would inform everyone that actually, abusing others IS BAD and surely at this time of year – AT CHRISTMAS, of all times! – we should all be nice and love one another. For the fact is, Christmas is a time for families and children and … well, that’s the whole problem. Violence really rains on the whole Christmas parade. Continue reading

Now that’s what I call Christmas!

Today at work I’ve been checking Spanish audio CDs. For a little bit, at least. Then I’ve kept my headphones on and completed other tasks, while still pretending to care about Miguel’s views on global warming. All the while I’ve been secretly listening to Now That’s What I Call Xmas, Disk Three. I bloody love Christmas, me.

The best song on the compilation is Chris de Burgh’s A Spaceman Came Travelling. It is totally ridiculous and totally ace, although my partner and I have disagreements on the actual meaning of the song. I think it’s set at the time of Christ’s birth and that “the spaceman” is the angel who appears to the shepherds (is it Gabriel? Or did he appear to Mary then let someone else have a turn?). My partner, however, thinks the lines “when two thousand years of your time has gone by / This song will begin once again, to a baby’s cry” mean the song is about something that happened 2000 years before Christ was born. But I don’t buy that because …. Well, anyhow, the best bit is when “suddenly the sweetest music filled the air”, because contrary to what you’d expect the sweetest music to sound like, it’s actually de Burgh twatting about on an organ wailing “la la la la la la la la la la” (I certainly wasn’t expecting that):

Other Christmas songs I love are Jonah Lewie’s Stop The Cavalry, The Darkness’ Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End) and Greg Lake’s I Believe In Father Christmas (“THE CHRISTMAS WE GET WE DESERVE!!!”). Actually, I pretty much like all of them, even George Cole and Denis Waterman’s Minder-tastic What Are We Gonna Get ‘Er Indoors? (the single of which my dad bought my mum for Christmas in 1983, complete with a gift tag to “”Er Indoors”. How we laughed! And I’ll be honest, comparing a tupperware party to “a telly that only shows Russel Harty” makes me chuckle to this day). I love all Christmas songs, carols included, with the possible exception of O Come All Ye Faithful (“lo! He abhors not a virgin’s womb” has always pissed me off. I know it’s all theological and whatnot, but I take it personally, like my perfect little sons exhibited low standards by occupying a complete slapper’s womb [as in mine] for nine months apiece).

I think it is perfectly reasonable to feel Christmassy by mid November. My eldest has just found out he’ll be a sheep again in this year’s nativity – only this year, it’s a sheep with lines! (“Nothing will happen. Nothing ever happens here. We just sleep and eat grass. It’s what sheep do.” Check out the dramatic irony there!). And they’re setting up the Christmas market in the town where I live (my office also has a Christmas market. I had my own stall last year. Unfortunately, it was there it became obvious that all the stuff my family say about my silk paintings needs to be taken with a massive pinch of salt – but still, this has not crushed my Christmas spirit, nor my willingness to continue palming off all the things that didn’t sell to gushing relatives for another few Christmases to come). On the first weekend of December my partner and I are having a night in Birmingham, just the two of us, where we’ll visit the massive market there and I’ll order mulled wine in German. Then we’ll decorate the house and start wrapping presents and it’ll all be ace (apart from Christmas Day, which has suddenly become a bit too much like hard work now that the relatives come to us. I need to get pregnant or something, then maybe they’ll do the washing up while I have a nap. But then I couldn’t drink. Oh, I’ll think of something).

Anyhow, in the meantime I’d like to have it noted that I am a non-religious, generally non-schmalzy person who happens to think Christmas is fantastic. And that is all I have to say on the matter (for now).

This post was brought to you by a vat of mulled wine. It’s okay, I have the afternoon off work (admittedly to take my son to speech therapy. But hey, I’m not the one who’ll be expected to speak clearly, so that’s okay, right?).

The honorary aunties and uncles list

Is there a single collective noun for aunties and uncles? I’ve no idea but anyhow, them – my sons have three. And while I don’t think that’s a terrible number, I still don’t believe it’s enough.

On my partner’s side there’s Auntie Perfect and Uncle Manly. They are a dentist and a doctor, respectively (which is such a cliché it sounds like a joke, but it’s actually true). They have two sons of a similar age to mine and offer my kids an insight into what life would be like if Mummy and Daddy were better organised / richer / less annoyingly liberal (kind of like a very minor version of Blood Brothers, based not on actual wealth but on whether you read the Guardian or the Telegraph). Continue reading

The abortions we don’t talk about

When I was pregnant with my children, I told people early on – way before the 12-week mark. It’s a decision I don’t regret, particularly when I recall the aftermath of an early miscarriage. Recently, though, I’ve started thinking that I wouldn’t do the same again. It’s not that I’m pregnant now, although you’ll have to take my word for it. The fact is, if I were pregnant, I’m not sure I’d want anyone to know until after I’d had all “the tests”.

I am on the wrong side of 35. The side upon which, apparently, everything goes horribly, horribly wrong, at least if you’re female. Reproductively you’re running out of time but as if that wasn’t bad enough, like Jackie in Footballer’s Wives, you start getting “rotten eggs”. You might still have a baby, but it might not be as healthy as the babies you could have had earlier (we’re assuming you’ve always had money and been in a stable relationship; if not, well, you just don’t deserve a baby, ever). That said, it’s probably best not to worry about it. After all, who do you think you are? You’re not some Nazi eugenicist, you’re a pregnant woman, and it’s time to start acting like one. The trouble is, I’m not sure I’d be prepared to do that. Continue reading