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19 December 2005updated 09 Sep 2021 7:48am

Oh no! It’s Christmas!

NS Christmas - Santa Claus, the Queen's Speech - what's so great about it all, anyway? The Is It

By Steve Lowe and Alan Mcarthur

Christmas crisp flavours. Like normal crisps, but rubbish. Wensleydale Cheese & Cranberry-flavoured Kettle Chips do not constitute a fine festive experience. Tesco’s Brie & Cranberry Crisps might actually be evil incarnate. Nibble Noddy Holder’s egg-nog-encrusted chestnuts? No thanks.

“Magic”/”magical” (the words). Ah, the “magic” of Christmas. As seen on ads for Woolworths offering “Magic Prices”. Or on the posters for HSBC credit cards bearing the slogan “Magical Christmas Cards”. OK, so that’s “magic” meaning “quite cheap” and/or “running up large debts”. Yes, that’s “magic” in the same way the conquistadors’ use of gunpowder was “magic”.

Merlot Wine Nuts. Yes, nuts flavoured with . . . Merlot. Because, obviously, nuts can only get better by being drenched in wine. Where did Lakeland Limited get this idea? From drinking too much Merlot after eating too few nuts, perhaps.

Drinking competitions using Bailey’s. Are not advisable.

The notion that the new Xbox 360 can cure your life, as opposed to being, say, a bit like the old Xbox. According to the first person in Britain to buy one, Kevin Sage, 33, of south London, they are “better than sex”. Kev told the Sun: “I was so pleased to get to the top of the queue, I fell to my knees and kissed the floor like the Pope.”

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Little Britain toys. There is now a Vicky Pollard doll, presumably with instructions saying: “You can stick pins in the little chav bitch! Hahahahaha!” Sadly, there isn’t yet a Desiree doll, so this Yuletide will not be filled with the sound of merry laughter about fat black women.

Jokes by older male relatives involving the phrase: “Are you a breast man or a leg man?”

Roy Keane. At the time of writing, Roy Keane was still for sale. What better present for the man (or woman) who has everything? For just a few million quid, your own life-size Roy Keane will run up and down your garden shouting: “Come on!” before staring you out and calling you “a bellecks”.

Christmas markets. A corner of town full of shit “craft” stalls, one of which, by law, must be selling thoroughly foul hot sugary nuts. Does at least clear up the eternal mystery of where people get pot-pourri from. Vegetable ivory? Vegetable? Ivory? Are – you – in – sane?

Shops that produce catalogues all year round suddenly trying, and failing, to be Christmassy by issuing the same catalogue with some comedy snow motifs on the front. “What do you want for Christmas, darling?” “Oh, you know, anything from Maplin. Maybe an A3 hot and cold laminator. Or a large plastic toolbox full of rechargeable batteries. Why don’t you just surprise me?”

“The Red Cups Are Coming!” In its ongoing effort to kill anti-consumerist satire stone dead, in the run-up to Christmas Starbucks has been trailing the important news that “The Red Cups Are Coming!” (That’s red cups. Not white cups. Red cups. Red.) According to Jim Alling, president of Starbucks North America: “For our customers, [Christmas] means gathering at their local Starbucks coffee house to connect over a hot cup of Starbucksr Christmas Blend coffee in our signature red cups to savour the warmth, magic and reprieve that are found there . . .” Which is actually quite, quite beautiful.

Sainsbury’s “Try something different” slogan. Try something different this Christmas, say Sainsbury’s and Jamie Oliver. OK. And how shall we stand out so ruthlessly from the pack, o masters? Judging by this particular “Try something different” advert on the back of this magazine here, I should buy a James Blunt CD. In Sainsbury’s. Yes, that is living all right. Certainly, it’s “different” from what I might otherwise have done.

Christmas Citybreaks. Citybreaks (trudging round cities such as Bruges and Lille for what feels like years; bastard Stansted) combined with Christmas markets combined with very cold weather: three very shit things combined to make a big festival of shit. As the sort of wind that even hardy Norwegian sailors would concede is “pretty nippy” whips in off the North Sea, as you wonder whether another portion of sugary nuts might stave off the frostbite, as you consider inflicting some handcrafted wooden knick-knacks on your kin (do handcrafted wooden knick-knacks fit on top of a DVD player? They do not) . . . spare a thought for the true spirit of Christmas: staying indoors and drinking heavily to stave off the bad-weather blues. That’s why it’s there. It is, rather famously, a midwinter festival! Do you see now?

The Road Pro Sandwich Maker. A sandwich toaster that plugs into your motor’s cigarette lighter. Which really does exist and really can be bought from the Cotswold Outdoor Action/Travel Christmas catalogue. Yes: corrode your hands with hot, burny cheese – in the comfort of your own car.

The Gordon Ramsay Christmas DVD given away with the Times. Now, we like free DVDs (who wouldn’t want a free copy of The Cannonball Run? Who? It’s almost like Rupert Murdoch going down Woolies and bringing you back a present), and we also think swearing is big and clever. But this foul-mouthed culinary oath-fest steps over the swearing line and then swears some more – like a fishwife with Tourette’s on speed having a big swear. It all deteriorates when, after calling his figgy pudding “a big fuck”, he refers to a turkey he’s basting thus: “Just look at this meaty shitter. Willy bum poo pants.” And he doesn’t do this just to look hard on camera, you know. He’s always at it. “Pass the bastard Quality Street” – that’s his Christmas catchphrase. How he loves those praline fucking triangles.

Father Christmas. The back-to-basics Christmas lobby often trots out the fact that the classic red-and-white image of Father Christmas was created in 1931 by the Coca-Cola advertising artist Haddon Sundblom. The campaign was designed to rebrand Coke as just the thing to imbibe at Christmas (new Britain carries on this tradition with many young professionals using Christmas as a perfect excuse to gather together to consume coke). Sadly, the real jolly old St Nick makes Coke Santa look like a paragon of truth and integrity. Among the many frankly disturbing miracles of this nutso third-century saint (causing prison walls to crumble, curing a burns victim), he apparently resuscitated three students who had been murdered by a publican and then chopped up and pickled in a brine-tub. Because, obviously, nothing screams festive fun like mass murder . . . and brine. I, for one, would like to see how long it takes for St Nick’s fanciful brine-tub story to crumble under cross-examination. “I put it to you, Father Christmas, that there was no brine-tub . . .” Anyway, where were we? I think what we’re saying is it’s all Coke’s fault. I think that’s it. I’m all confused now. So, er, anyway . . . it’s CHRIIIIISSTTTMASSSS!

Golf fragrance for dads. Silly.

News about the high street. Will it be a bad year for the high street? What will each of the Big Stores’ market share be? What will be the Big Stores’ strategy for the sales? It’s gripping, isn’t it? This year, apparently, people are actually “shunning” the high street. This, says the CBI, is “worrying”. Come on, people: don’t shun the high street! Yes, I know we said you should save for your retirement, but that was last week.

Jesus. Or, rather, “Jesus” – the as-real-as-Santa beardy fantasy character who looked like the young Robert Powell (that is, really quite dishy actually). According to some historical evidence that a man once told me about at a meeting above a pub, Jesus was the leader of some sort of revolutionary mass movement against Roman oppression. Steeped in Jewish traditions, Jesus and his mates thought that, with the help of divine intervention, they could make the kingdom of God on earth – that is, a system of communistic equality. However, come the glorious day, after Jesus and his followers had entered Jerusalem and proclaimed the imminent arrival of the promised land, God – not existing – did not in fact intervene, and Jesus was jailed and then executed. And after they’d spent ages on the banner, too. Whether this is 100 per cent accurate – and there are certainly other theories about Jesus (that he was the son of God born of an immaculate conception, for example) – certainly the Jesus who reckoned one should render unto Caesar a load of old tax and generally be subservient boys and girls is a fiction. “Je ne suis pas un Christian,” as Christ might have said, aping Marx, if he’d spoken French and knew who Marx was. Which he didn’t.

The Darkness.

The lights. Turned on too early, not as good as they used to be, etc.

The Queen’s Speech. The way Church and State take advantage of everyone being pissed and address us directly via our telly-boxes, like some Festive Big Brother (man). Church on the telly? Church? On the telly? Balls to that. Ditto the Queen. The only way the Queen’s Speech would be good is if she shared some of her in-depth horse-racing knowledge: “In one’s opinion, the French Raider in Boxing Day’s King George Stakes is massively overpriced at 16-1 and a major fancy.” Then we’d all put our houses on it and retire. Now that’s noblesse oblige.

Turkey sandwiches. Are very nice. Stop moaning.

Bono’s Speech. Where is it? The Queen gets to do one and she’s not nearly so important.

The popular new board game So Who Exactly Is Making William Hague a Millionaire? Is There, Like, a Parallel Universe Where Being a Pug-Faced Tory Failure Is Considered “Really Good”? Or What? “Save the Pound”? He’s Saving Bloody Loads of Them, the Baldy Git.

The way everything gets softened up in the season of goodwill – like the “Bad” films. In Bad Lieutenant, Harvey Keitel plays a cop who murders, “cavorts with prostitutes”, masturbates furiously and both sells and ingests hard drugs (while on duty). In Bad Santa, Billy Bob Thornton just gets pissed up and nicks stuff from department stores. Rubbish.

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