Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Christmas Presents

It is once again that merry time of year where I sound the alarm, tie heavy weights around my ankles, roll myself up in a Persian rug and throw myself off the local canal bridge at the very prospect of Christmas shopping.  As I WILL have left it too late to buy any stuff online, the only other option is to brave Birmingham’s Bullring and risk being buried alive under the swarms of human ants jostling for position on the escalators and using their mandibles to tear flesh off their competition at the perfume counter in Boots- locked in combat over the last bottle of “Stunning”, by Katie Price.

My neck never fails to go all hot whenever I recall the low point of last year’s shopping trip, a futile attempt to make other people wee themselves with happiness via my spending of the final withering remains of my student loan. Endlessly circling the bottom floor of Selfridges looking for “trinkets”, I was sweating profusely in a fur coat that had seemed like a good idea at the time, but in reality made me look like a she-gorilla. It all got so much that I involuntarily emitted a low scream amongst the novelty kitchenware, and thought for a second that the statue of a bull made of jelly beans was talking to me.

The concept of giving Christmas presents, I have recently decided, is bloody weird. It’s no one’s birthday (with the exception of Jesus, and do you have his number in your phone? Thought not), and so you undertake the baffling task of buying stuff for everybody you love, all at once, simply for existing on this planet around Christmas time (and even people you don’t love, depending on how much resentment you harbour for the classmates/co-workers also partaking in the utter debacle that is ‘secret Santa’. I did get a bath set from a secret Santa once, but it clearly cost more than the chocolate snowman that I’d bought for someone else; I was wracked with guilt and so the entire experience just left me cold.)

However, as for unwanted gifts- I ask you to look deep inside yourself and ask: is that really a thing?! Having gratefully accepted the esteemed title of “Britain’s Most Shameless Cheapskate” for an impressive 21st year running, I have developed a mentality/defence mechanism where I am eternally appreciative of any old tat that gets chucked at me. Or even tat that doesn’t get chucked at me; it’s just dawning on me that searching through supermarket bins at night to try and find Christmas presents for myself might be a money-saver that only an idiot would miss out on.  And I would actually be eternally appreciative if an elderly relative pulled a Mrs Weasley on me and knitted me an ‘embarrassing’ jumper, partially because I am that short on clothes, but mainly because the idea of having assisted in bringing to life a massive Christmas cliché would keep me more than entertained, well into the Queens’ Speech.

That said, I’m sitting here wondering if anyone has had the impertinence to buy me a present as unwanted as a ‘bath bomb’ this year. I don’t care if you bought it from Lush- it’s still a fizzing sphere of pure letdown and YOU’RE GOING DOWN, MAN.


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Natural Disasters

Sitting in my resplendent stately library – open fire roaring, and my Butler “Hives” by my side – I swill my brandy around, and browse over the top of my ironed broadsheet newspaper to comment upon how it’s absolutely lashing it down outside; the droplets rap against the panes of glass in the windows overlooking my many acres of land, as I lament upon how bare it all looks since they did away with Feudalism. And this is about as close as anyone in the UK gets to experiencing a ‘natural disaster’.

In fact, I’d say the closest encounter I’ve ever had with ‘natural disasters’ was either the time I lost my hat in Blackpool when a violent gust of wind blew it off (October 1998: never forgive, never forget), or whenever I’m at my Nan’s and it rains a lot and her driveway becomes flooded (far less euphemistic than it sounds) by about an inch and a half of water and as a result, we have to jeté out of the front door to the car.

Well, ok, there was ONE sort-of natural disaster that I experienced in 2008, and that’s when my little area of England was victim to a larger-than-normal-for-here earthquake (in fact, it was SO LARGE that Emily didn’t even know it had happened the next day when I told her about it all and she’d slept straight through it). I distinctly remember waking up to my bed banging against the wall and, upon not seeing a Catholic priest in the room (thinking they’d either a) be exorcising me or b) be the cause of my bed banging against the wall as I’m in a state of drowsiness), I pretty quickly assumed there was a quake.

Of course, here you have to substitute the word “disaster” for “mild teacup-rattling inconvenience”, despite the fact that the Burton Mail went with a front-page story of an elderly woman who’d had her pictures knocked off the wall by the violent rumbling. Still, this was a step up from one of their previous headlines atop a story about a Chinese takeaway in the area that had been involved in some dodgy goings on which read: “EGG FRIED LIES”.

As with all things in life, if you want the full force of anything lobbed at you then you need to head to the USA. Hurricanes are such a regular occurrence there that it’s not just detainees at Guantanamo who know what waterboarding is like (LOL SATIRE, my invitation to appear on Have I Got News For You in the post please (Paul’s team, obvs)); and they’re so used to them that they give them names, a 6-month work Visa, a star sign and a blood type. In fact, SOME of these people* (*lunatics) even go chasing after such weathers, and upon seeing a particularly badass tornado forming drive TOWARDS it with such haste that one group once ran over Toto. Dorothy was only JUST lucky.

Overall, I think the worst natural disaster to get caught up amongst (other than George Osborne) would be a heat wave. I’m bad enough with the two collective days of British summer that we get, let alone a month of 40 degrees Celsius sticking me to all leather furniture within a 50 metre radius. As for the frizz that would go on with my fringe? The sun can be a cruel and unforgiving sky-bitch.

As we head into December, the sun is going to be the last of the UK’s problems as I eagerly await the panic-laced news reports of how OMG THERE IS A LIGHT DUSTING OF SNOW IN SOME PLACES AND JESUS CHRIST THIS ROAD HASN’T EVEN BEEN GRITTED!!! EVERYONE, EAT YOUR YOUNG!!! As a Brit, I’d say we’re particularly good at two things out of a few: getting on with miserable weather, and having a rational sense of perspective. But my God, snow really flips our balance doesn’t it?! We just can’t handle it! Lines of traffic can be seen from space, trains spontaneously combust and BBC reporters are shoved into fields with microphones, tit-deep in the stuff. Hardly a natural ‘disaster’, but by how it’s reported you’d think the Pope had just morphed into a 90ft half-human half-lizard hybrid and had threatened to tear the world a new arsehole.

Seriously darlings, it’s just snow. It melts in the end. But if one snowball comes anywhere near to hitting me, I will be buying up TV airtime and BY GOD, you are all going to hear about it.
- Charlie