Christmas with The Saint- Richard

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Recently, I’ve been a bit fed up. Exams are on the horizon, most of my daily life is beyond bleak in its pointlessness and it hasn’t even flipping snowed. Hence I’ve become irritable and argumentative, states of being only assuaged by watching the kind of self-depreciating comedy that allows me to think the rest of the world is having as bad a time of it as I’ve convinced myself that I’m having.

I would compare it to a ‘mid-life crisis’, if that wasn’t just a term made up by prats to justify buying unnecessarily flash cars or by advertisers who seek to sell you hair products that will apparently get you some lady action no matter how old and ugly you are.

So you might expect this to be either a cynical and bitter look at the quite ridiculous Christmas customs we now hold dear (I mean, some people try to get away with anything – poking mistletoe in your face, turning their house into some sort of tacky fairground attraction, or generally acting like an unrestrained moron – by filing it under “All in the Christmas spirit, isn’t it?”), or perhaps a particularly awful remake of A Christmas Carol, where Scrooge eventually sees the errors of his ways and gets all happy and generous and stuff.

I’m not entirely sure how I’ll be feeling about Christmas Day come the end of my reflection on it, but all the fun is in the surprise, isn’t it? Unless you got some novelty slippers from that uncle again, that is.

I saw in Christmas Day watching Father Ted (oh naughty, subversive Channel 4). A storyline about a frisky milkman and a milkcart carrying a time bomb is even better than it sounds.

Morning! I struggled to get up out of bed. This shouldn’t happen. Maybe it was the cold I’d picked up, which would pester me all day. Downstairs. The Christmas tree twinkled, and the tempting scent of cooking willed me into the kitchen. And there were presents. I got what I wanted – additions to my Beatles and comedy DVD collections, plus chocolates (Toblerone!) and a new rucksack. However, there were a couple of other things that hadn’t been delivered on time – I was not entirely sure whether to be intrigued or curse the reliably unreliable British Postal Service.

The turkey neared readiness; time for some Christmas music to really get into the spirit. I have to admit, I was not shaken, never mind stirred, by Stevens. I’m sorry Shakey, but you’re getting a bit tired now.

Unfortunately, the television was equally uninspiring. I got bored of waiting for Richard Attenborough (in Miracle on 34th Street) to declare that he was hiding some more dinosaurs on yet another Pacific island (he just smiled sympathetically a lot and talked to reindeer).

Christmas dinner was the highlight of the day, though. It was excellent – as per usual (courtesy of Mother Dearest). The meal was accompanied by Wallace and Gromit, too. It does not get a lot better than this.

You will notice that I have essentially been using food and television to rouse myself from my bitter and twisted cocktail.Yes, the emotional ties to the magic of Christmas appeared frayed at best, and these simple pleasures seemed my best hope.

The Military Wives were announced as Christmas Number One. Well that video was a bit emotional. Families and love and hope. Then the Queen talked about the same things – with a spot of “This year, the Prince of Wales went to [shock-horror] Wales, and smiled and laughed with some peasants for the cameras,” just to give it some authenticity.

The afternoon films were an excellent opportunity for me to sit back and scoff. “It’s no Toy Story, is it?” Then, after evening feeding time, I sat down to watch Doctor Who. Mistake.

Doctor Who is a British institution, undeniably. Matt Smith is an excellent actor. But, for once, could he have a story where lovey-dovey feelings don’t solve everything? It’s nice and that, but I’ve been yearning for an episode where the crisis is resolved by simply blasting the alien scum into oblivion. The trend, from half-way through the David Tennant era, has been for not simply defeating the alien baddies but also feeling sorry for them too. Heart-tugging moments only work when they’re unexpected, not when they’re mandatory fare.

Rant over. ‘The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe’ was a fun, jaunty adventure for the most part, nothing too unpalatable to wash down the figgypud. Then something odd happened. It got emotional, but it was rather well done. Family – something integral to Christmas, as forced down my throat by everyone from Top Of The Pops to the Queen to the fact that I’d spent the day with my own – and friends and missing loved ones all bubbled up within a masterful piece of storytelling. I welled up. Yes, it was superficial and somewhat sexist, but it definitely had something. Blooming soppy sci-fi. Alternatively, it could have been the effect of my sodding cold.

Damnations. It appears I’ll have to admit to there being more to life than pessimism and feeling the whole world is trying to ruin your life.

Ugh, what’s happened? I’m off to watch Blackadder. Cynicism in hearty helpings, please.

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