Spalding area's John Ward: "It's all traditional"
The buying of loads of drink such as wine, spirits, beer and lager - the latter two are usually stacked inside supermarket doorways on pallets, normally leading up to assorted ‘sporting events’ - plus questionable foodstuffs to celebrate this Christmas festive event is almost here.
However the real reason of what Christmas is about has now sadly almost faded from view and replaced with the emphasis on strange food, drink and electrical goods being the current flavour of the moment.
Presents are another ball game however.
Years ago, being of the adult male gender plus you owned a neck, you probably got, or at least half expected, a tie or the latest breed of ‘Pierre-La Peww’ aftershave - which was sometimes referred to in dispatches as a ‘Gift Set’ if it came with perhaps a comb, cuff-links or bottle opener.
Being female, the basic options were the handy five gallon drums of either bubble bath or scent, but in both instances arrived in a ‘Presentation Pack’(cousin to ‘Gift Set’) but in some cases (as in packing cases if buying in bulk possibly) they came from some trendy, exotic sounding name that seemed to emanate something stylish.
With catchy adverts like:‘The new fragrance specially knocked up for you from Carlo La Ditchwatter called ‘Maybee’ - as if it smells, ‘It’s Maybee by Ditchwatter’
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Children, as in boys, went from roller skates to train sets but now it’s the latest mobile phone/communication centre or lap top.
Girls got dolls houses or toy kitchen sets but now it is pairs of jeans with scissors plus instructions on how cut holes to ‘style’ them.
It’s not so long ago, if a pair of trousers or jeans had a stitch or button missing, it was a screaming, foot stamping session of: ‘Oh-my-God! - I can’t possibly be seen wearing them like THAT, like!’
Moving on, we are now in the age of food and drink with both curious and exotic sounding names, with drink seemingly to be the key motivator.
On one occasion where I was silly enough to pop into a well known supermarket to buy some bits - total cost was less than a fiver in real terms - a few days before the actual December 25 kick off date - I got stuck in a ‘liquor queue’ that made the beaches of the WW2 Dunkirk evacuation seem like a social gathering.
Due to the ‘10 items or less’ checkout being suspended, why I could never fathom out, I was stuck behind Mr and Mrs Alcohol who had two trolleys full - and I do mean full - of wine, spirits plus strange named liquors I had never heard of before, quietly waiting in convoy.
It took close to a quarter of an hour to get their plonk scanned through the checkout but it was the actual cost that got me.
It totalled over £630 (yes, really) but then they counted out their cash -‘we popped into the bank earlier to get fifty pound notes especially’ - considerate or what?
As they were leaving, Mr Alcohol asked the till operator about the Boxing Day opening hours as he ‘felt sure’ they would need to go back for a ‘top up’!
If there is the ‘spirit of Christmas’, they could be in the running for that title, but seemed to forget, you only rent drink, unless you don’t open but store it.
On the other side of stuff for the human digestive system, there are strange food offerings in assorted appearances and mutations, with some bearing the helpful/health warning label of being ‘traditional’ in its formation.
In reality, this can be basically something that looks like some ‘food project’ rejected from a tacky, cheapo telly cookery programme for not being ‘artistic’ enough, but now dusted off, stuffed in a brightly coloured box as its now labelled ‘Festive’ food.
I saw something the other week, that if I read it right, was called ‘Turkey Supreme Nuggets’ - a relation to Chicken Nuggets possibly? - although quite what part of the animal in question these nuggets, supreme or otherwise, came from is debatable, but cost £3.99 for the (festive) joy of finding out.
The one thing missing from the label was the word ‘traditional’, which is usually a key word at this time of the year when selling foodstuffs.
One, such labelled item, was a few years ago when I saw a ‘traditional pack’ of assorted nuts (the edible type, not metal fastenings requiring a matching bolt or people even) with the label reassuringly pointing out they were to ‘celebrate the traditional festive season’ with.
The said nuts were ‘organically grown’ as it’s the new, trendy buzz word in food circles these days - no idea what form the possible food factory made/produced ones look or taste like though.
There are real traditional items about, but with all this dross it’s hard for them to get a look in, basically such as hot roast chestnuts, sometimes on sale as implied by street type vendors or sellers at themed ‘Christmas Fair’ events.
Buying some for home consumption is no problem, but serving them hot might be as no doubt you will soon have to fill out a Risk Assessment form regarding the ‘hot’ section plus possibly notify your local H & S (Hinder and Stifle) brigade of clipboard waving, box-ticking aficionados of your intentions to warm up said chestnuts in your own home.
However, if this is not the case yet, it soon will be as if bureaucracy can get itself involved, it needs no real excuses.
Anything and everything needs - or possibly to their way of thinking - to be accompanied by copious amounts of form filling as its now fast becoming a traditional British way of life - never mind the waste in paper and the trees that provide it.
So home now, get the asbestos gloves on and roast your nuts while it’s still legal - you have been warned.
A friend was recently discussing a point of the festive season as he ‘always has the Parson’s Nose’ when it comes to carving up the family turkey on Christmas day.
Considering the ‘touchy-feely’ world we now live in, its quite probable this ‘Parson’s Nose’ malarkey would now be looked upon as a form of ‘hate crime’ donchca know.
As luck might have it, possibly an actor/actress/singer will launch a campaign to protest about said ‘Parson’s Nose’ inequality plus luckily they currently have a film, play, TV mini series, book or a new album that is doing the rounds that ‘might’ get a mention or three in the process.
Party games are now heading for extinction, as the new kid on the block is filling in online retail outlet type ‘surveys’ with a mild threat you will be ‘included in a ‘£100, £1000 wotever prize draw’ that oddly you never hear about anybody winning.
So best avoid any such ‘surveys’ and stick with tiddlywinks as at least you know who wins that as the players are in front of you - or should be.
All together now in panto style: “Oh yes they are!”
Finally have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year but please go steady on the oven ready, self basting giblet free, presentation gift pack, traditional, festive organic vulture - the feathered variety that is.
More by this authorVictoria Fear