Will Self: PsychoGeography - Santa's ghetto

Related Topics

Here, for you, three days before Christmas, is the Teddy Jesus. See how He sits in the birdcage of martyrdom, His glued-on grin frozen in a figure-of-eight rictus, His stumpy paws thrust painfully against the bars. (The correct term for this phenomenon is "stumpmata".) Observe His black halo, the sign of transcendent pathos: is there any object more worthy of our devotion than this? The Teddy Jesus was sewn on Christmas Day 2002 in a Guangxi sweatshop then filled with foam by the careworn hands of a pieceworker who gets no holidays, ever. He was next crammed into a container with thousands of his fellow bears, and freighted halfway around the world so that He could be drooled on in the West.

The Teddy Jesus therefore represents the only true global religion we have: globalisation itself, where this is understood as the Trinity of, Market, the Father, Transportation, the Son, and the Holy Ghost of Chance, which together mean, while you may unwrap the Ursine Deity and gaze adoringly upon him, the majority of humanity is only getting stuffed.

The Teddy Jesus is for life not just for Christmas; and to underline this fact, Ralph and I have decided that each member of the class should get to take Him home for a weekend. But woe betide the little boy or girl who thinks to change the Teddy Jesus's name that is not acceptable, that is blasphemy. However, you may get Him out of His birdcage, play with Him, cuddle Him, dress Him up in baby clothes and bring Him with you when you visit fast food restaurants, fetish clubs, or National Trust properties.

Once every member of the class has had the Teddy Jesus to stay, a prize will be given to the child who has proved most inventive in His worship. Evidence, in the form of digital images stills and full-motion audio recordings, and supporting documentation can be submitted to The Editor, Independent Magazine; but please bear in mind that Ralph and I will reserve the right to involve the police, specialist protection agencies, and social services where appropriate.

It is worthwhile recalling at this point the origins of the stuffed animal faith, for Teddy Jesus did not come unto us without cause: He is not a stuffed gnu, or jerboa that would be an abomination. The Teddy Jesus first appeared to the 26th US President Theodore Roosevelt in 1902, as a visitation of his profound mercy. The President, a keen hunter, had failed to bag a bear, so his hosts tethered one for him. But Teddy Roosevelt refused, uttering the immortal words "Spare the bear". The Teddy Jesus is thus an incarnation of this primordial bear that, through the agency of human love, becomes animate. This doctrine known as transfoamrubberation has been the cause of a major split in the Church of Cuddles, but I don't want to get into that now.

What I do want to get into is Teddy Jesus, and his enormous and lasting appeal to the peoples of this world. Carried hither and thither by missionaries, traders and imperialists, Teddy Jesus has been embraced by everyone, from the crustiest Hindu sadhu, to the Borneo Big Man with a bone through his nose none can resist the appeal of His cosy fur, nor His winsome neoteny.

To date, only those pesky Mohammedans have held out against the loveable bear, and in particular the savage Sudanese, whose muppets sorry, I meant "Muftis" promulgate such sweeping fatwahs against soft toys of all kinds that the British Ambassador was recently expelled from Khartoum for petting a gonk called Nigel. Not that the subjugation of the Sudan for the One-Glued-On-Eyes Faith was ever anything but problematic. Is there one of you, children, who is not familiar with the dreadful fate of General Gordon, who was cut down by crazed mobs of Fuzzy-Felt on the veranda of his residence? Or the peculiar repercussions of this event that resulted in a British gunboat laden with Beanie Babies being dragged overland to Lake Victoria?

Of course, some "authorities", such as Albus Dumbledore, the gay Archbishop of Canterbury, will doubtless cavil at all this, refusing to admit that Teddy Jesus has anything at all to do with revealed religion. For them, the whole phenomenon of the teddy bear is just another example of the way civilisation has as a by-product of its conquest caricatured and infantilised the wild. After all, what could be less cuddlesome that a brown bear? So, first we extirpate their habitat then we hug them to extinction. Seen this way, the Sudanese refusal to tuck up Teddy Jesus has a certain ghastly nobility; but I say, fie on such multicultural apologists, Christmas is not the right time for politically correct point-scoring, it's a time for family, a time for children, and a time for flu-ridden rubber turkeys to cough their giblets out.


'PsychoGeography' by Will Self and Ralph Steadman is published by Bloomsbury, £17.99

React Now

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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The landslide vote for gay marriage takes Irish society further away from the Vatican  

Ireland gay marriage: Church's decision not to lead No campaign recognised remarkable new reality

Paul Vallely
New SNP MP Mhairi Black distinguished herself in Westminster straight away when she made herself a chip butty in the canteen  

The SNP adventure arrives in Westminister - but how long before these new MPs go native?

Katy Guest
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?