Mistletoe and whine – The Rant

Following Robin Ince’s fine Rant is Bennett Arron, who, while being totally down with Christmas, is livid with its pauper cousins like fireworks night and New Year’s Eve. Just light the touch paper and stand well back…

Bennett_Arron1ADAMETHANCROWESo Christmas is almost here. You can tell that as all the shops have started displaying their Easter eggs.

I do enjoy Christmas time; the excitement of finding out which unknown celebrity is going to switch on the town’s lights, which bookies are going to lose the most if it snows on Christmas day and whether the shops you go into will be playing Merry Christmas Everybody, Do They Know It’s Christmas or I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day.

By the way, I’ve always thought that playing Do They Know It’s Christmas (Feed The World) while you’re in a supermarket piling up your trolley with a selection of tasty festive treats is a touch insensitive. Not that it stops people of course. In fact after hearing the line: “The only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears,” I actually heard someone say: “Oh that reminds me, I have to buy soda water and bitter lemon.”

Another good thing about Christmas time is that halloween and bonfire night are well behind us for another year.

Why we celebrate the Eve of All Hallows in such a huge Americanised way is beyond me. I mean, why should I hand over my hard-earned sweets to a group of kids who have simply stuck their heads through a hole in a sheet or put on a Spider Man mask? This year someone actually came to my door dressed as a policeman and told me my cat had been run over. What type of sick joke is that? Admittedly I did give him a sherbet dip and a couple of blackjacks, but only because he was bigger than me.

The intermittent sound of fire engines

And bonfire night is worse. When I was a child, bonfire night (or, if you prefer, Guy Fawkes Remembrance Day) was on just one night of the year (November 5th, in case you’d forgotten to remember, remember). It usually involved being in the back garden in the cold and rain, eating a jacket potato wrapped in tin foil (well you had to wear something to keep warm) while your dad weighed up the pros and cons of returning to the Roman candle which had failed to ignite. Fantastic fun.Nowadays, bonfire night starts two weeks before November 5th and goes on until at least a month after it. During this period, it’s acceptable, almost customary, to have bangers thrown from passing bicycles and air bombs going off all through the night, the noises from which are only interrupted by the intermittent sound of fire engines. What other European country allows kids to buy pyrotechnics from the same shop they buy comics and crisps?And what are we really celebrating? We’re celebrating the fact that someone failed in their attempt to blow up Parliament. Would that still be cause for celebration today?

Some are good, most aren’t

But back to Christmas. My nephew recently asked me if Father Christmas was real. To be truthful, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to lie to him, but I also didn’t want to spoil his fun and excitement. So I pretended I suffered from vertigo and passed out.Of course, the Coca Cola-sponsored Father Christmas is as much a part of the festive season as drink-driving campaigns and office parties. Unfortunately, as I generally work from home, my office is the spare room. And trying to balance your backside on a small combined scanner/fax machine/photocopier is just not the same. Although it did make my secretary laugh. Even though she’s fictitious.Being a comedian at Christmas time means that you get to perform at various Christmas bashes. This is when a company decides that, in addition to the lavish spread they lay on for their staff as a “thank you” for not leaving them for a better job, they should also have a comedian.

Some of these are actually good fun. Most aren’t. I have variously been asked to: “Do my comedy stuff between the spring rolls and the main course,” “insult the MD” (always a favourite) and “remind everyone that Liz got off with most of the staff last year.” I did actually meet Liz, and I can only assume that everyone had had quite a lot to drink that year.

Of course, there are people who don’t believe in Christmas and some who just don’t like it at all. There are even people who have a fear of it, which I believe is called Santa Claustrophobia.

And then a week after Christmas comes New Year’s Eve. The one night of the year when we force ourselves to have a good time and when at midnight we will kiss anyone within a ten-yard radius and then stand in a circle, arms linked with smelly sweaty strangers and sing the first few words to Auld Lang Syne and then, like John Redwood, make up the rest of them.

Anyway, I have to go now and start wrapping my presents. I’ve bought a new collar for my cat. Talking of which, I haven’t seen her for a while.

Visit www.bennettarron.com

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