Friday, November 10, 2006

Merry ******mas to You, Too.

For those of you who have not yet noticed, there are only so many shopping days to Christmas. The more observant amongst you will also twig that, at any given time, there are always only so many shopping days to Christmas. This valuable statistic is brought to you freely and frequently by the retailers who are looking to raid your wallet and piggybank by creating panic at the imminent approach of this festival.

The older ones among us may still recall, dimly, that Christmas was once a Christian celebration of the nativity and that, once upon a time, it was possible to see charming displays of this scene in front of churches and also in the newer temples of worship, the shopping malls, at this time of year. I understand that, since this might offend non-Christians, these are no longer permitted. The newly formed “thought police” of government, with nothing better to do, have now turned their attention to philately, that insidiously dangerous hobby. Christmas stamps for this year will no longer feature any religious symbols lest they should offend.

Now Britain may not be ostensibly a nation of religious fanatics, but the official religion is Church of England and, however sloppily, it is widely endorsed by a pretty good chunk of the population. But presumably, the Ministry for Making Sure that We Upset No-One will soon be ordering the demolition of all churches as a precaution.

I live in France, a Catholic nation, and as a non-Catholic I suppose I should be grossly offended by the shrines that I see before me all over the place. And every day in the French calendar is dedicated to some Catholic saint or other. But I’m not, and when I visit a Muslim nation, the fact that my host buzzes off to pray several times a day does not bother me in the least.

The Romans had the saying that, when in Rome, you better jolly well do as the Romans do, and I suppose, unless you wanted to wind up in the lower reaches of the Coliseum, this was an advisable policy to pursue. Perhaps this invaluable dictum should be pointed out on any application form for residency.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that authority in Britain has gone absolutely bonkers. Boris Johnson, the bike riding MP, wrote that on a British Airways flight he was sitting alongside two young children. The flight attendant asked him to move, as it was now the policy not to allow an adult to sit with children. Now I’m all in favour of that, as no adult wishes to be terrorised by a couple of kids on a flight, but in this case, the children were his! It’s hysteria, paranoia and several other “oias” generated by an administration that will produce eventually a nation of overly protected wimps, if it hasn’t already done so.

The government’s obsession with the problem of Christmas stems, I think, from their own inability to find three wise men (or women) to fill any positions in their cabinet. And the Attorney General, who claims impartiality in that he and Tone are just good friends, says that the evidence of the shepherds lacks corroboration and that, according the Astronomer Royal and Cherie Blair (with help from Ms. Caplin), they were following the wrong star. And she should know. The date’s all wrong so why not change?

Historically, there is a precedent, and as Britain looks to America for guidance in all important issues, they should remember Abraham Lincoln. He moved Thanksgiving, that celebration of a harvest festival, from the end of summer to the nether reaches of November. Now if you live below the Mason-Dixon line, this makes little difference. But celebrating in Upper Wisconsin with an outdoor barbecue is going to involve some serious thermal underwear.

Now I have a solution that I would present to the government. Why not move the 25th. of December festival to a date more in line with governmental policy? Of course, it would have to be re-named since the word Christ in Christmas might give offence to some, although even more might be offended if it were to be called Blairmas or Brownmas. The date I have in mind would be April the 5th., since that will coincide nicely with the tax year and give people something to occupy their minds for a couple of days.

Wait a minute, though. That means it will clash with the Hindu festival of Rama Navami, Jewish Passover and the Buddhist’s Hanamatsuri, undoubtedly causing offence in those quarters.

As Fagin said, “I think I’ll have to think it out again!”

2 Comments:

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