Merry Christmas? I don't think so

WHAT WE need is a good money-making scheme or it's going to be a cold, hard Christmas. Oh dear! Oops! It's going to be a cold, hard Christmas anyway, under a fortnight to go, with bastards (Group A) moaning for their money like bleak midwinter and bastards (Group B) resolutely refusing to pay me. So too late for anything this year. It'll be turkey burgers, all web and wattle, and pictures from the Sunday Sport stuck up as decorations, and me huddled round the solitary guttering candle remembering years gone by: the groaning board, the rich odours of meat and claret, the sound of homeless people singing carols in the frosty streets and the sharp scent of anticipation from my silken servitors ("Merry Christmas, vicar; help yourself to one of these women").

How times move on. When I was little it was a tremendous treat to come up to London to see the Christmas lights in Oxford Street and Regent Street, and rightly so. To a child's eye they were magical, and blurry old photographs suggest that, even to an adult's eye, they weren't so bad. But this year ... Look down Regent Street and you see the seasonal message "'Tis the Season to be Tango'd"; look along Oxford Street and there is the gnomic utterance "Bird's Eye".

A recent newspaper "survey" announced that the shopkeepers of Oxford Street are "bracing themselves" for a truly lousy Christmas, and frankly they deserve it. The best thing we can hope for is that everyone who agreed to this shameless exhibition of skirts-up, knickers-down, up-against-the- wall display of moral and aesthetic short-time knee-trembling ends up bankrupt, evicted from their homes and trudging the streets with the cries of their starving children ringing in their frostbitten ears.

You might argue that anyone who drinks Tango (a rather sickly, chemical- tasting range of fizzy pop advertised, last time I bothered to turn on the television, by an orange person in a loincloth hitting Tango-drinkers in the face, a fate which they richly deserve) or who eats Bird's Eye frozen food (unpleasant stuff sold to the poor at inflated prices on the promise of some ill-defined "convenience") is so far gone in tastelessness as to be immune to any further assault.

You might also say that only the aesthetically destitute ever go to Oxford Street anyway: growling ogres in combat trousers and anoraks, jittery swivel-eyed tourists in Burberry underwear, wondering why it's all so horrid, tense, pale suburban families in thin chainstore leisurewear, hard-faced teenage trollops, National Lottery players, off-duty traffic wardens, epsilon-minus semi-morons shouting at their children, mad people with heads like nodding bulbs, the gullible, the monosyllabic, the deracinated, the ugly.

You might therefore conclude that this lumpy aggregation of fools and swine - shoppers and traders and Bird's Eye vulgarians and Tango-pushers - are terribly well-suited, have found their collective level, and that the rest of us should rejoice that the Oxford Street/Regent Street nexus has turned itself into a sort of leprosarium or commercial charnel-house which we can improve the quality of our lives no end by simply never entering.

You might, however, be asking for a smack in the face, which, having little better else to do at Christmas, I would be only too happy to pop round and administer ("Merry Christmas, madam. Kindly step aside as I have to punch your husband's lights out. Ho ho ho"). Because the trouble is that, although we may believe we live in a postmodern society, fragmented into shifting and ill-aligned cultural sub-groups, adrift on a turbulent ocean of media pressures, the truth is that we are as homogenous as ever, and all that Mr Toni Blair and his exciting new government have done is find a new demotic form of rhetoric with which to articulate two of this country's oldest and most over-arching philosophies. The first is the great commercial motto best expressed as "Give us the money. Now fuck off," while the second is the ancient doxology of the snob-disguised-as- democrat, "The proletariat are happy as they are and don't like thinking for themselves."

Combine the two and you have Bird's Eye; you have Tango; you have the National Lottery and the Millennium Dome; you have everything for sale and nothing sacred (in the old sense of set-aside, excluded from ordinary use or depredation); you have market research and focus groups; you have Oxford University Press being told by the University to close down its poetry list to save money (enough to keep every shrivel-prick don who voted for the measure in Tango and frozen fish fingers for the rest of his miserable life); you have ... you have, in short, the entire miserable package of New Britain, its public culture reduced to a matter of slogans, sponsorship and statistics.

I was lucky, and have remained so. Once you pass a certain level of educational attainment, people stop patronising you, and instead offer you things that you might not like or understand, at first on the assumption that you will probably be prepared to have a go and possess the ability to do so. Our public discourse makes no such assumptions; our proletariat is there to be patronised, fleeced, kept docile with television and consumer goods (the one symbiotically driving the desire for the other) and, above all, not to be got excited or given Ideas.

If there's anything resembling a Christmas ethos in our post-religious world, it must be the exact opposite: that the common man is not to be treated as a milch-cow for money-maddened corporations, and that his soul is not for sale or even offered for sponsorship. The prophet whose birth we celebrate whipped the money-changers out of the Temple. Now we whip them in. Perhaps we should amend our ways, and as a small oblation to the gods of civilisation, next year's Oxford Street illuminations should have as their theme a collection of mains-wired Bird's Eye executives, Tango marketing men and greedy, vulgar traders, fizzing and crackling prettily as they twitch and shriek 50ft above the festive street. !

Arts and Entertainment
Keith from The Office ten years on

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams prepares to enter the House of Black and White as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones season five

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Albert Hammond Junior of The Strokes performs at the Natural History Museum on July 6, 2006 in London, England.

music
Arts and Entertainment
Howard Mollison, as played by Michael Gambon
tv review
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech

The best TV shows and films coming to the service

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003