19/12/2007

Fuck Christmas



There is a memorable scene in the film Liam, set against the backdrop of the 1930s depression in Liverpool, when Pa Sullivan, played by Ian Hart, rises to his feet during his son’s first Holy Communion and launches into the priest who is praising the assembled communicants.

Says the priest: “I'd like to say how nice the children look. The girls in their frocks..the boys in their lovely white shirts. You've done them proud.”

To the shock of the catholic congregation, Pa Sullivan rises at the back of the church and screams: “Wanna know how we paid for it? Jesus Christ has got us all skint, Father. You kit them out for Christmas, and you finish paying by Easter. You do it for Easter, and you're finished for Whit. You do it for Whit and it's Christmas again before you know it. And you're getting deeper and deeper. And Jesus Christ is a millstone round your neck...And tomorrow morning, all these clothes are going in the pawnshop.”

If I’m guilty of nicking and over-using one line from a film it has to be “Jesus Christ has got us all skint”. I uttered it the other day whilst talking to a group of local single parents, who were comparing their notes on the Christmas experience and how they’re all “up to their eyes” in debt accommodating their kids’ whims or Christmas; debt that will take a year at least to pay off, that’s if you don’t miss a payment.

The usual thing round here, bar the loan from the DWP social fund, is the Provident loan. They give their loans to anyone, no questions asked and the interest rate is a staggering 68%. I know parents who have taken out a loan from the social fund as well as the “provi” loan. The former is interest-free and is deducted from your benefits at source. The two together amount to a hefty milestone when you’re struggling to survive on benefits.

So, if you’re on state benefits, it’s like your whole year centres on Xmas day, if not preparing for it then paying for it and having to do without essentials just to meet the loan agreements. I jest not – for many families Jesus Christ, or rather what takes place in his name, has them skint year in, year out. I know parents who quite literally dread this time of year, who curse its approach. Do they know it’s Christmas? as Bob Geldof and co once sang. Too fucking right they do – they pay for it every day of their adult lives.

And how this wonderful consumer society serves the poor, forever exposing the emptiness of their lives and kindly providing the means by which their lives can be enriched and how they too can enjoy happiness over Christmas, just like the well-to-dos. As the Citizen Advice Bureau has found, interest on this ‘happiness’ can rise to as much as 1800 per cent a year.

Just where the fuck would we be without the advertising industry who continually alert us to needs we never even knew we had and who constantly remind us that our lives are really less satisfactory than we had hitherto imagined. Thank God for Nintendo 3, ipods, male face creams and the myriad gadgets we have amazingly managed to live without for 2 million years – just how the fuck did our species survive without them. Sheesh!

The unremitting onslaught of advertising exerts constant pressure on parents in particular who, fearful their kids will be labelled, belittled and humiliated if their pressies are not up to scratch when they compare notes in the school yard, are more than ready to satisfy the most outlandish want and bugger the cost and inconvenience for the next 52 weeks.

And the sad thing is, we all know Christmas marketing is just one big profit-oriented scam, benefiting manufacturers, stores, and huge corporations, while driving individuals into debt. You don’t need a degree in ethics to realise that the Chrimbo "wish lists" and "gift exchanges" demeans the concept of giving. We know this annual orgy of consumption – 40% of what we buy is binned, unused – is detrimental to the environment, filling landfills with useless packaging and discarded gifts. We know Christmas means misery for millions of families, depression for hundreds of thousands – the Samaritans say they receive an 8% increase in calls between Christmas day and New Year. Yet still we tag along with the damned charade, still we passively acquiesce in the madness. Even socialists take it seriously, for fuck’s sake. I know SPGB members, my comrades, who actually send out the conventional Christmas cards.

Seems the workers just need this annual fix, this distraction from the rat race, even if they do know its all bollocks

Me, I’m fed up with the unified bleatings of friends and associates, who mockingly call me "Scrooge" when I fail to fully endorse their ritual orgy of consumption or utter the hackneyed “are you set for xmas yet?” type of remark. For I’m one of those dole wallahs with kids and grandkids who can say “Jesus Christ has got me skint.” And being a convinced atheist, a Marxist, it smarts just that little bit more.

For more anti-Chrimbo musings from yours truly click here

2 comments:

Darren said...

Christ, I never got a Christmas card from any Party members.

prolerat said...

This is the first I have enjoyed for 30 Years haing discovered nephew and nieces have been breeding more bairns.The truth is I liked playing with the toys myself before passing them on.No adults though.i will continue to be hardline on them as they should know better by now.
Matt