Christmas

Christmas is unquestionably a good thing. From a totally non-religious point of view, I think it’s good to have an excuse at the end of the year to get together with your loved ones (or your family), have some time off work, and fall into some familiar clichés and traditions that have nothing to do with the origin of the celebration in the first place. There’s something comforting about whole nations, deliberately missing the point of a religious observance as an excuse to overeat, get drunk and buy shit. Nothing describes us more aptly as a species.

Don’t let people tell you it’s a religious festival. The religious foundation of Christmas is as convincing as the idea of a reindeer taking a bite out of a carrot in my living room, just to prove she exists (yes Rudolph is a lady, all of Santa’s reindeer are (male reindeer shed their antlers in the winter (I’m three layers of parentheses deep into this sentence, this is incredible. I’m like a blog version of Christopher Nolan))). Pretty much all of the religious aspects of Christmas are known to be hazy, or totally incorrect. Scholars maintain that the actual year of his birth was more likely to be 6-4 BC. You’d think that Mary claiming her child was fathered by God might have warranted a little more scrutiny, considering she got his conception date wrong by six years. Also, the 25th of December is actually the date of the Roman’s celebration of the birth of their sun God (not Son of God, easy mistake) which took place around the winter solstice. And Jesus himself, always depicted as a white man wandering the streets of Nazareth, proclaiming himself to be the son of God, while preaching humility.

As I said, I love Christmas, but for all the difference it would make, we may as well base it on the celebration of the birth of Humphrey Bogart, who was actually born on the 25th December. His films have given me much more enjoyment than the mistranslated teachings of someone who literally invented the Messiah complex. I’d love to see a world where Bogart replaced Santa in our folklore, “Of all the chimneys in all the towns in all the world, he tumbles into mine. I mean, that’s basically his job.”

But that’s my point. It doesn’t matter how Christmas started or where it came from, or whether deliberately repurposing a Casablanca quote is funny and original. Because now, Christmas is about covering a dry, spindly tree in hot electrical lights without a fire extinguisher to hand. It’s about how filling a cardboard tube with a paper hat, a bad joke and a miniature screwdriver set means nothing without a tiny explosion. And of course, it’s about buying things for loved ones to prove just how well you actually know them, and which items they don’t yet own.

The true meaning of Christmas is how we celebrate it now, in all its garish, commercial glory. The true meaning of ‘killjoy twatbasket’ is someone that tries to get people to forget that. So this Christmas, do what thou wilt. Because otherwise, the killjoy twatbaskets win.

Merry Christmas.

 

Next time on The Bandwagon:
Was the Devil’s greatest trick convincing the world he didn’t exist? Or was it managing to seem evil despite having goat legs?

Open-Minded

Imagine you’re sat in an office canteen, where you work for whatever reason. Maybe you have no marketable skills and therefore just put numbers into a computer all day. That’s my excuse anyway.

So you’re sitting in the canteen, and you’re sitting with a person who is of the gender you are typically attracted to. And of appropriate age. Most of you took that as read, but I don’t want any litigious readers blaming me for putting ideas into their head.

You both sit there, chatting, occasionally letting your eyes flit to the attractive features of their face. Their just-thick-enough eyebrows, their high cheekbones, their giant nostrils (trying to cater to every taste here) all drive you crazy, and you realise you’re physically quite attracted to them. And that maybe you saw them look at your face in a similarly appraising way, and you get a flutter of excitement. Then you make a witty crack about a recent development at the company. Perhaps a new, impressively sized printer has been installed. Maybe you make a pun based on the words ‘big draw’ and ‘big drawer’, the drawer referring to the bit where the paper goes. But you don’t have to explain that to the person you’re sitting with. They crack up laughing. You see that you have the same sense of humour, and that they actually like you for who you are. They do something that gives you confidence that they feel the same. Something like biting their lip if they’re a woman, or if they’re a man, grinning like an idiot, or something less stereotypical and sexist.

They get out their packed lunch (it could happen) and pop off the plastic lid. They pick up a small yoghurt pot, and a spoon you assume they’ve brought from home, or stolen on the way to work. You look at the lunchbox, and notice it’s emblazoned with the name of your favourite band/TV show/movie/reality show contestant. They move the lunchbox to one side, and begin to peel back the yoghurt pot lid.

The conversation has now paused. Not in an awkward way, just a natural break. They’re about to start eating and there’s a mutually satisfactory pause in the exchange. You look down at your food, a grimly symmetrical sandwich and packet of baked crisps, because you think baking something is better than frying it, which is only really true for cakes. You’re jealous of the yoghurt, until you look back up.

The yoghurt lid is at their mouth, one corner pinched between finger and thumb. Mouth agape, their tongue is approaching the yoghurt coated side of the lid. You know what’s happening, you’ve done it before. But only ever in the etiquette free exile of your own home. But now it’s happening in front of you, by someone you thought you liked.

They are licking the lid of the yoghurt pot.

You feel all eyes in the work canteen are on you and your eating partner, judging this disgraceful display, and judging you for sitting there in silent approval.

So what do you do? The tongue is now on the lid, sliding upwards and collecting the yoghurt in a neat slime globule. Do you abandon them at the table, your new flame, loudly proclaiming them to be a disgusting troll, and kick them swiftly in the shins on the way out?
Or do you sit there, accepting it?

You take a moment. This decision will determine who you are as a person. What you stand for.

You reach across the table, and dunk your finger into the open yoghurt pot.
“Mmmmm. I love yoghurt too!”
You suck the yoghurt from your finger loudly, outdoing your partner, taking the brunt of the attention.

Your lunch-buddy appreciates this. Six months later you get married, and tell this story at the reception. Some laugh, others look confused. But all try to ignore the giant yoghurt you’ve placed on each table, a tribute to the quirky theme of the wedding.

You dine out on this story for years. You become insufferable, and only have each other.

Is that what you want?

Didn’t think so.

 

 

Next time on The Bandwagon, I’ll be looking at the pros and cons of ceilings.

Happy Endings

Right then, the real first blog post. With actual content and thoughts instead of just writing a blog about a blog.

Here goes.

What’s the one thing that separates us from animals? Part of me loves it when people use a phrase like that, as though there is only one thing, not an almost infinite number of things. Animals don’t wear slippers, unless they’re forced to obviously. Animals could never have invented Argos. Animals don’t play the spoons. Animals don’t get nostalgic for periods of time they weren’t even alive for. Animals don’t write meandering blogs. You see my point. But one discernible thing we do that animals don’t, is tell stories for entertainment. Not just lying, which some animals can actually do. For example, a chimpanzee called Nim Chimpsky had learnt sign language after having lessons with a human. Apparently, when he got bored of the lessons, he would lie about wanting to go to the toilet so he could be excused. A lot of children at my school tried the same trick in French class, they just didn’t bother saying it in French. There’s another thing animals can’t do. French.

Dishonest chimps notwithstanding, animals don’t tell stories, and because humans do it affects the way we see the world. We try to frame everything through the lens of narratives. You are the hero in your own novel, or TV show, or straight-to-DVD-movie if you have low self-esteem.

Think of the number of times you’ve heard something to the effect of “Honestly, they should make a TV show/sitcom of my life! The things that happen to me are mad! Yesterday I fell over at work!”

I don’t know who ‘they’ are, perhaps TV executives with no understanding of the medium in which they work. But if someone made a TV show of my life, even I wouldn’t watch it. A typical day in my life is not exciting, interesting or narratively satisfying.

Today for example, I went to work, did work, had lunch, did more work, came home, wrote this post up to the words ‘low self-esteem’, watched Jessica Jones while eating dinner and then started writing again. If at the start of my day, I had seen a fortune teller who’d told me I would never ever write another blog post in my life, or events coalesced in such a way that me eating lunch was somehow a harbinger of me watching TV, then maybe I’d think ‘isn’t it weird that my day seems as though it’s been structured by an idiot that thinks he has some insight into television but actually doesn’t.’

If, on the other hand, I saw Krysten Ritter punch someone so hard in the chest they actually died, I might think ‘someone should make a television show about her life’, but probably only after the police investigation and lengthy trial she would no doubt endure.

Because we think in such a way, every piece of entertainment is put through this story arc filter. Even this blog post is expected to have a satisfying end that ties up all the loose strands of my rambling. Something that mentions animals again, maybe an animal that thinks someone should make a TV show about it.

But this blog post won’t end how you think it should. Just like life it keeps going on and on. No obvious goal is achieved, aside from arbitrary ones which are set on the way, and as much meaning as you try to inject, the ending can still be abrupt, confusing and unsatisfying.

 

Next Time on The Bandwagon:

Sharon accuses Kev of kidnapping a Koala! Meanwhile Tina is knee-deep in shed catalogues! Don’t miss it!

Welcome to the Bandwagon

I’ve never been one to jump onto new technology or new trends, and I’m not about to start now. Blogging has been around for probably most of my life by now, and although it had occurred to me to start one before, I didn’t think I had enough discipline or varied thoughts to warrant one. I probably still don’t.

But the time has come for me to have a regular creative outlet, and blogging is the way.

Please mind the doors, the bandwagon is now departing.

Expect: Cringing sentiment such as the above sentence, reviews and opinions, lots of repetition, multiple clunky pop-culture references, feeble attempts at humour (this phrase is an example of itself) and repetition (did it again).

Don’t expect: Ironic usage of the word ‘interwebs’ or any deliberate portmanteau of social media websites e.g. ‘MyFace’ or ‘TwitterGram’.

Political rants unless it’s something unavoidable like a General Election, or a David Icke-affirming example of a reptilian unmasking.

Pictures of cats doing things that humans generally do, thereby eliciting humour.

Since this is on the internet, which may very well live forever, my blog could be read in years, even decades by some sort of cybernetically enhanced robo-child with a loveable sidekick droid, on an internet search for the true meaning of love. Or just me in 15 years’ time, nostalgically rifling through my past, wondering what went wrong and laughing at the futility of thinking starting a blog would change whatever will happen to me in the intervening years.

 

Expect sentences that are too long.

 

But maybe one day I’ll look back at this blog and smile, pleased that I actually got off my arse (I’m sitting down as I write this), pulled my finger out and wrote something off my own back (too many different body parts for one metaphor). Maybe I’ll smile because it did change something for me. Or maybe, just maybe, time travel will have been invented, and I can bring back all the blogs I’ll ever write, and give them to me in the present, so I never actually have to write them.

 

Expect nonsense.

 

Either way, if anyone’s reading this, I’ll do my best to keep posting stuff. Just do your best to keep reading, no matter how self-indulgent, rambling, or saccharine it gets.

 

The Bandwagon is now arriving at your next station – Overly Extended Metaphor Central.

 

Expect clumsy framing devices.