Simon Kelner: Stuff the silver bells – you know it’s Christmas when...

There are the obvious signs – like lights and decorations everywhere,
hearing Slade boom every time you enter a shop, and the Prime Minister
suddenly taking an interest in religion – but there are more subtle,
insidious ways in which Christmas creeps up on you.

Share

 

There are the obvious signs – like lights and decorations everywhere, hearing Slade boom every time you enter a shop, and the Prime Minister suddenly taking an interest in religion – but there are more subtle, insidious ways in which Christmas creeps up on you. You know it's Christmas when:

You have pleasant conversations with London taxi drivers, who, instead of complaining about immigration and telling you how brilliant it was that David Cameron told the rest of Europe where to shove it, ask you what you're doing over Christmas, or remark on how satisfyingly quiet the roads are this time of year. Or even, as one cabbie did yesterday when I told him I was a journalist, recalled how he'd once been a toy boy for the legendary columnist Jean Rook. Such experiences can almost make you feel a seasonal warmth towards taxi drivers. Until, that is, you see the meter.

You suddenly feel very old when attempting to buy a present for a young person. This involves going to the sort of shop frequented by said young person. Yesterday, in an effort to get a gift voucher for my god-daughter, I went to a store called Abercrombie & Fitch. I could not have felt more ancient, or more out-of-place, had I arrived at an all-night rave wearing a tweed suit and cravat. In fact, I hadn't realised that, in popular shops like this, the desired effect is to create the exact atmosphere of a nightclub. They're dark, the music is pumping and, in this particular case, there are half-naked men strutting their stuff. I took one look at this hellish scene, walked out and resolved to present my god-daughter with the gift that every teenager seems to want this year: cash.

You feel completely out of the loop when young relatives hand you their Christmas lists. For instance, what on earth are FitFlop Happy Gogh clogs? Apparently, they're the shoes that anyone under 20 has to be seen in, and, so I've learned, can be worn barefoot when it's warm, or with stripy socks when it's not. Get with the beat, daddy-o.

You suddenly have an uncontrollable urge to buy the sort of confectionery you'd never think of having in the house, and in the sort of quantities that would be more suited to a family of junk food addicts in Arkansas. A tub of Celebrations the size of a bass drum? Of course. An industrial-sized tin of Quality Street? Don't mind if I do. And nuts? What's behind the seasonally-adjusted passion for walnuts that lasts until we throw them out at the same time as the tree?

You switch on the Today programme on Radio 4, and instead of an earnest discussion about the eurozone, you find a light-hearted item designed to make us feel the world is not such a serious place. Yesterday, for instance, it was on how one's surname sometimes reflects one's profession – like Doctor Death or Reverend Vickers. Hilarious. By the way, this column has been brought to you today by Simon Curmudgeonly.

React Now

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

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

 

i Editor's Letter: Still all to play for at our live iDebate

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering