Monday 22 December 2008


Sorry about the weekend silence - my home computer had disappeared under a mound of Christmas-related 'stuff' and, in the course of a trying weekend, I was unable to excavate it. Bryan has written eloquently enough about Pre-Christmas Claustrophobia, and the weekend before the Day is always, in my experience, when it hits its frenzied and insane peak. Every year I like Christmas less. Every year - recession or no recession - the consumerist feeding frenzy seems yet more deranged and deranging, leaving not a moment free for quiet or reflection, or even pleasure. By the time the Day arrives, most of us are too exhausted by it all to enjoy much about it (apart from the falling asleep bit) and it takes days to recover - by which time most of us are back at work. Somewhere along the way, a glimmer of truth and hope is provided by the religious observance of Christmas - a light shining in the consumerist darkness...
Of course, half the problem is that this is so absolutely the wrong time of year to be caught up in anything much more demanding than eating and falling asleep. It was the shortest day yesterday, and my vital spirits are at a solsticial low - indeed I suspect I'm nursing a seasonal flu. Never mind eh - here's a lovely, even consoling December poem by Geoffrey Hill:

For rain-sprigged yew trees, blockish as they guard
admonitory sparse berries, atrorubent
stone holt of darkness, no, of claustral light:

for late distortions lodged by first mistakes;
for all departing, as our selves, from time;
for random justice held with things half-known,

with restitution if things come to that.


  1. hello, see how quickly I'm here - it's because you are now on my blogroll and I can keep tabs on you.

    Out here in the French countryside there is not much rampant consumerism. I just popped out to the shops and they were almost empty - more the Monday syndrome here than the few days before Christmas thing.

    In fact it is all very low key here - Boxing Day is not a holiday, the French have a big meal late on Christmas eve, recover on Christmas Day then it's all as normal until the New Year.

    I've not even bothered with many decs this year, that's how un-Christmassy I feel.

  2. Well Nige, you won't be getting the festive cravat I just bought you, you miserable sod!

  3. French Fancy - that sounds like my kind of Christmas. This madness is probably an Anglo-Saxon thing...
    As for you Joe - you've just ruined Christmas for me - I was enjoying it so much up til now, then you came along and dashed all my cravat-based hopes how could you?!

  4. Well, thank goodness your computer recovered in time for you to dump that little bit of festive miserabilism on me...

    It's the other way about for me. Thanks to Amazon and other interweb miracles Christmas shopping is a joy. I love buying pressies for people.

    The anticipation of Christmas is the best bit of it, while the day itself passes by in a drunken blur, with a grisly moment at about 6pm when you wake up on the sofa with a strange and terrible variant on the hangover and a deep feeling of dread in your soul.

    I once wrote an uncompromisingly mainstream poem on this subject, in case you're interested.

  5. Brit is far too cheerful. I'm all for miserabilism. I hate feeling obliged to celebrate Christmas. I was told, a long time ago, that if I didn't do something willingly, I might as well not do it at all. Don't get me wrong. I'm happy buying friends and family gifts. I do so all year round. But at Christmas, it's the fact that I'm told to be cheerful (I don't feel cheerful), take holidays, stop working, spend, spend, spend... It's all too much.

    Oh, all too depressing. I'm not even enjoying the bean wrap I bought myself for lunch in a futile attempt at cheering myself up.

  6. Written inside of a Christmas card from one of juniors friends in Detroit, mayday, mayday, mayday, a merry mayday to our friends.
    Hello Nige, it could be worse, couldn't it?
    Yes it could, we could have the flu, Woolies could still be here, JS could have won Strictly, Bill could be giving the Queens message, there could be a Lindisfarne revival...feeling better now? there there.

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  8. Nice poem Brit - and hey Malty's back! And yes it could indeed be worse - tho I haven't written off the flu yet...

  9. I'm feeling peversely happy. Our two female guinea pigs are, as I type, playing squeakily in their playpen with a visiting neutered male we are looking after for holidaying friends. The urge is still with him and he chases the girls around in endless circles but obviously to them he doesn't smell right and gets kicked in the head a lot. I know it shouldn't make me laugh but it does.

  10. Ah Sophie, guinea pigs - the most cheering pet around, I reckon, Have you watched the classic YouTube clip of three guinea pigs 'fighting' over a piece of cucumber (the original one, not the later restaging) - brilliant!

  11. Nige, I haven't seen the clip but will seek it out instantly. I've not quite got over the Peruvian guinea pig festival pictures, however, and will be tiptoeing carefully through the YouTube links.

  12. Christmas deleted

    This Christmas has been removed by the author.

  13. Musical footnote: There's a beautiful Offertorium (D963) by Schubert - one of the last things he finished before his death. Worth seeking out, if you' don't know it...