Once again the beast moves slowly on its fat thighs towards Bethlehem. W.B.Yates put it thus: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
Christmas once again makes its relentless entrance, pushing aside December’s gloom to send us scurrying to the shops to buy buy buy till we are all fat and surfeit, our stomachs redolent of fruity juices, mushy peas and stale pudding. Oh yes! And mountains of clothing and the debris which in the colds light of January we will have to take back to the shops if we have any energy left. This happens every year and nobody has come up with a solution for this illness. I myself have promised every year to cancel Christmas and it never happens. The children were an excuse once but now they are no longer dependent on me I do it to get rid of the appalling vacuum and despair every year brings to those in my circumstance. Three times this week I went out with the good intention of buying presents for my loved ones and returned with voluminous bags containing clothing and items specifically for myself. Jumpers, T-shirts, slippers, underwear, chocolates! My logic is – you see I am an intellectual and delude myself into being a logical individual – that nobody knows what I really want, what color, what size, what style, unless I choose it myself. So with good solid reasoning behind my madness, I have now filled my house with mostly surplus-to-requirements goods worth a couple of hundred pounds. There are more shopping days to Christmas they tell me. God help me. Not that Mary’s Boy-Child is going to help me. He is laughing all the way to the bank.
Going out shopping in the days leading up to Christmas has its compensations. One is, if the days are bright and dry, you could wear your newly bought purchase and prance about town feeling like you are something special, not that it takes much doing, given the quality of style that graces most high streets. The other bonus is the amusing sights you see on the streets. Yesterday I was particularly lucky; one a young lady with a stomach distended beyond all proportions, not with twins or triplets, but with stale food I should imagine telling her companion with some concern, “my stomach’s going…” I hurried away to avoid the coming explosion. The other was a good looking young man with dark glasses walking with his guide dog telling his female companion “I’m not walking into Ann Summers… Stop it…”. I had visions of his well-meaning lady friend trying to seduce her blind boyfriend/husband with the sexy underwear from the shop they were passing by at that time.
You have to laugh or the hell of Christmas yet again would be unmanageable. Again in Yates’ words:
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;”
I have already started returning goods. Tomorrow I take back a jumper which is too small for me and I have not even started feasting yet. One good thing has come up out of all this. I have not done any food shopping for myself recently. The gluttonous orgy that is going to flood over me in the coming weeks has already made me feel discomposed at any thought of food. To finish with another quote from the immortal poem Yates wrote at the close of that mass mechanised slaughter called the First World War:
” A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.”
Have fun folks!