Christmas calorie countdown? Just get stuffed

Share
Related Topics
As soon as Christmas starts looming, the newspapers fill up with handy tips on how to avoid gaining a pound or two from festive gorging. This defies the whole purpose of Christmas and its pagan precursors. It's actually an ancient cure for Light Deficit Syndrome, cystitis, ennui. People need a big booze-up in the winter. It's HEALTHY! Only the British would react to seeing fun on the horizon by turning round and going the other way. Christ would not have approved of this party-pooping attitude. What could be more self-indulgent, after all, than being born?

But the Express is determined to worry us. To burn off a typical Christmas dinner, it told us on Tuesday, you'd have to climb Ben Nevis, swim halfway across the Channel, clean a three-bedroom house from top to bottom seven times, take 12 exercise classes, dance for 15 hours, clean 60 cars or run a marathon. To avoid the worst calorific effects, you must refuse: turkey skin, roast potatoes, bacon, sausages, Christmas pudding and anything involving pastry.

Alternatively, you could just shut up and eat.

THE Nazi Jew story will no doubt run and run. It'll strike a chord in the heart of every skulking anti-semite. The idea of Jews helping out with the annihilation of their own kind fits in nicely with the theory that Jews are tricky characters not to be trusted. What nobody wants to acknowledge is that it confirms the much less cosy fact that all human beings are tricky and untrustworthy. But surely few people can still believe that only Germans are capable of what the Nazis did, or that Hutu behaviour is unique to Africa. The real battle of the 20th century has been to come to terms with just how universal these traits are. You show me your depth of depravity and I'll show you mine.

THERE was a sci-fi movie on television recently about the world coming to an end because of a meteorite, and only one rocket could be built in time to send a few survivors to an alternative planet. And what did they take on this rocket? Some crusty old scientists, a few fertile women and pairs of animals they thought might come in handy as food some day. That was it. Thousands of years of human civilisation, the entire natural world - all left behind. Never trust a scientist. A meteorite just passed us for real, and may be close enough in 300 years' time to hit. One's first reaction to this news is naturally a shrug of the shoulders, eloquently encapsulating the assumption that by then there will be nothing left worth preserving - we'll have destroyed it all ourselves. But it pains me that everything might disappear: birds' eggs, redwood trees, whales, Schubert, Jane Austen, The Catcher in the Rye, the touching human habit of singing along, Howard Hodgkin's paintings.

Having studied art history at university, I usually hate art and rarely voluntarily engage with it, but I am totally in love with Howard Hodgkin. I was suffering from art frigidity until I saw the Howard Hodgkin show. I even finger the postcard reproductions tenderly. The millennium be dammed. If you want the sensual and emotional experience of the decade, get to the Hayward. Peace in Northern Ireland? Have them all meet up at the Hayward. Forget Prozac, the Samaritans and swimming with dolphins. Just get to the Hayward. And in 300 years' time, don't forget to pack the Hodgkins.

WHY are politicians given charge of art so unconcerned about it? Virginia Bottomley can't think about anything but sex and violence. Jack Cunningham would rather be in Trade and Industry, or fishing. But Sir Denis Mahon has found the solution to cultural decline in Britain. The Government must be forced to look at art in the only way that makes any sense to it: as a financial transaction. Thus Sir Denis has revealed plans to leave valuable paintings to the National Gallery and other places on condition that the Government stops pressurising such institutions to sell off their holdings.

Hitherto known mainly for his collection of large unpleasant Italian Baroque paintings (not popular at the moment), and occasional angry letters to the Times about public funding for the arts, Sir Denis has now shown himself to be a Hero of Our Age prepared to arm-wrestle with the Government from the grave. At last there's something useful a millionaire can do! The Daily Telegraph called the proviso in his will "a sting in the tail". But who's stung? Not the public, for whom the National Gallery holds paintings in trust. Not the gallery visitors, who have a fight on their hands to be allowed to see publicly held works of art without paying admission charges. The only people stung will be the philistines installed as Arts ministers.

It's clever, it's moving, and we should all be inserting similar clauses in our own wills. Posthumous politics: leave the nation your jewels on condition they pay people's pensions; leave the contents of your medicine cabinet on condition they improve the NHS; leave them your house on condition they phase out nuclear power; and have your ashes sent, in hundreds of irritating little brown envelopes, to the Inland Revenue - just for the hell of it.

SPENT four hours one day this week looking for my glasses. Four hours. The search was made more irritating because I happen to pride myself on my ability to find things. I probably would have made a great hunter- gatherer. After searching for your glasses for about an hour, you get beyond the self-admonishment stage of thinking you threw them out with the rubbish that got collected on Wednesday. Your panic begins to take on a paranoid edge: Who took my glasses? (And why?)

My suspicion fell on a near-stranger who'd briefly visited. Female. Weird. Obviously a witch. Left her alone for a moment. Just enough time to steal glasses. (If she could find them, that is.) Obviously snatched them in order to practise voodoo on me. She resented my (phoney) air of contentment, wanted to scupper my life. You let these people in the door and they proceed to sabotage your existence...

Later I found my glasses. My sanity's another matter.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an enthusiastic Maths Tea...

Urgently looking for Qualified Teachers and NQT's

£110 - £120 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Urgently looking for Qua...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you that teacher who c...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you that teacher who c...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Palestinian natural resources lie beneath this terrible conflict

Shawan Jabarin
 

The daily catch-up: heatwave update; duck tape and market socialism

John Rentoul
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform