Fuck Christmas (2)

Shopping in Morrisons for vegetables with my son John on Saturday, I asked him to point out anyone in the supermartket he saw smiling or who looked happy – I wanted to reinforce my arguments that for the majority of people Christmas is not a time of cheerfulness. The place was packed, thrice the usual Saturday crowd, and most shoppers had trolleys that were overflowing, full of produce meant to make them happy. The queues at the till were predictably long and it was staggering to see just how much yer average shopper was spending. The couple in front of me spent £230.00 and looking at what they packed their bags with you just knew that most of that would be binned – unless they were intending on feeding the street. Neither did they look joyous or in festive mood.

Needless to say, we saw no smiling customers; not even the staff on the tills who looked quite pissed off with their lot and were no doubt wishing they were elsewhere. We went from there to South Shields and, walking up King Street towards the market, I again asked him to point out any smiling shoppers. But again we saw none, just shoppers looking anxious, frustrated and I assume wishing they were elsewhere.

“Nobody looks happy,” he said, at last.

I looked at him and smiled. We both agreed it was one huge wallet-emptying charade with the only ones really smiling, bar the wee bairns opening the presents on Xmas day, being the profit mongers who were clearly raking it in.


Just came across these facts and figures. They’re a bit dated – scven years old – but they say much about the festive (or should that be ‘fetid’) season.

* In the seven days running up to Christmas, Asda estimates it will have sold 750,000 tonnes of Christmas pudding (1) - that’s equivalent to the weight of 1,875 jumbo jets (2).

* Marks & Spencer estimates it will sell more than 500 tonnes of sprouts over the Christmas period (3), that’s as heavy as 125 double decker buses.

* In preparation for the festive rush Tesco stores have stocked up with 2.25 million fresh and frozen turkeys, 72 million mince pies and 16 million Christmas crackers (4). If all these Christmas crackers were laid end to end, they would stretch for 3,082 miles – that’s the length of the entire UK coastline.

* Between 20% and 30% more glass jars and bottles are collected over the Christmas period (5).

* During the Christmas period, we’ll cook 6,711 tonnes of fresh whole turkeys and 12,472 tonnes of frozen whole turkeys (6).

* This Christmas the UK will consume almost 5.5 million jars of mincemeat, 12 million jars of pickles and 6.5 million jars of cranberry sauce all packaged in glass, but only a small percentage will get recycled (7). The weight of all these jars is equivalent to the weight of 59,500 Santa’s, weighing an average 18 stone each. And if all these glass jars were recycled, it would save enough energy to boil water for 60 million cups of tea (8).

* Royal Mail delivers around 150 million cards and packets during the pre-Christmas period. It is estimated that up to 1 billion Christmas cards (17 for every man, woman and child) could end up afterwards in bins across the UK (9). If all the Christmas cards were laid end to end they would span from London to Sydney and back more than five times!

* Over six million trees were bought last Christmas in the UK, most of which were thrown out after December (10) creating over 9,000 tonnes of additional rubbish, almost five times the weight of the London Eye (11).

* It is estimated that over Christmas as much as 83 sq km of wrapping paper will end up in UK rubbish bins, enough to cover an area larger than Guernsey (12) or enough to cover Hyde Park 33 times (13).

* The waste created in Britain over Christmas is equivalent to 400,000 double decker buses, stretching all the way from London to New York City! And even though half of this waste could easily be recycled, almost 90% will actually end up in the dustbin. Parties and presents account for a 30% increase in the number of bottles and cans binned, not to mention the Christmas trees, extra packaging, paper and card thrown out across the capital (14).

* Around 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging are thrown away over Christmas - that's the equivalent weight of more than 50,000 festive polar bears!!! When buying gifts, try to avoid items that are excessively packaged (15).

* Around 4,200 tonnes of aluminium foil gets thrown away in the UK each Christmas (16).

Source (like I said, these stats are a bit dated, but I doubt there's been much improvement):

1 Guardian Unlimited, 24/12/02

2 Research Machines plc and based on an average jumbo jet take-off weight of approx 400 tonnes,i.e. 1875 jumbo jets

3 Guardian Unlimited 24/12/02

4 Guardian Unlimited 24/12/02

5 Waste Watch

6 British Turkey

7 British Glass

8 Waste Watch

9 Waste Watch

10 Durham County Council

11 BuyImage.co.uk

12 Waste Watch

13 Friends of the Earth

14 Recycle For Cheshire - http://www.crewe-nantwich.gov.uk/main.asp?page=1704

15 Durham County Council

16 Durham County Council


The Downside of Christmas

Christmas pressures mean divorce in January

A study has shown that January 8th is the busiest day of the year for divorce lawyers when up to one in five couples will enquire about divorce after the pressures of Christmas. The enforced intimacy of Christmas, coupled with the start of a new year is thought to be the main trigger. The other peak in the year is after the summer holidays. Adultery, lack of sex, abuse and boredom were the main causes of divorce enquiries. Studies show that fewer than 40% of those who divorce will be happier.
Reported in the Daily Telegraph 8 January 2007

The cost of Christmas

The average Briton spends around £600 on presents alone at Christmas, much of that going on a credit card or loan. Around 10,000 people were predicted to end up bankrupt and insolvent in the three months following Christmas due to their spending over Christmas and the New Year. Recently, record levels of debt and those in serious financial trouble have been registered with 110,000 falling into insolvency in 2006, the first time the figure has topped 100,000.
Reported in the Daily Mail 3 January 2007

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