Christmas, Sales, Boxing Day Hunts and a Happy New Year
Posted on December 31, 2014
Christmas is a funny old time as when it actually arrives, there is a general feeling that it is over the instant the big day dawns. As soon as the wrapping paper is in the bin, the adverts on TV are suddenly for holidays and mega, biggest ever sales at DFS, and the radio stations have reverted back to normality after a month of Slade, Wizard, East 17 and the Pogues.
Boxing Day always brings news feeds of the masses knocking down the doors of stores like Next, followed by some double barrelled Etonian demanding for the return of the old annual tradition of a pack of hounds ripping an exhausted fox to shreds as a punishment for eating non-indigenous pheasants (Please note, I said pheasants, not peasants).
I gave up going to the Sales in my twenties after spending around £200.00 on clothes I never wore, including some trousers with red piping that had my ex-wife querying whether I was, without telling her, appearing as Postman Pat in the local pantomime. Also, if anyone reading this post knows an individual anywhere in the UK who has paid full price for a DFS sofa, I would love to conduct an interview with them and post it on here as an exclusive.
“Well you see, there I was in a tiny window of opportunity between the mid-term, end of season, winter and New Year sales, and before I knew it, I had paid £3500 for a three piece suite that is £2000 for the other 364 days of the year…still I made up for it in the Next sale where I bought eight pairs of 48 inch waist jeans…I am a size 34, but the wife says she can take them in.”
As for that Boxing Day Hunt lot, I wouldn’t mind so much if we could pass a law to level the playing field a bit, or perhaps alternate the chase on an annual basis? How about covering David Cameron or the like with tar, sticking a hundred chicken carcasses to him and allowing the old chap a head start before chasing him through the Cotswolds with a pack of hungry foxes? It would be a right laugh.
Before anyone starts giving me a load of old twaddle about being a townie who doesn’t understand the countryside, I was brought up around Baughurst in Hampshire and my childhood meals regularly involved spitting out pellets from pigeons, pheasants and even the occasional rabbit; on the odd occasion my parents would be given lumps of venison; a rare treat.
The general consensus was if it was “shot for the pot” it was all okay and though some might not agree, that is how I lived life in my youth, so I am not going to pretend to be a trendy left-wing vegetarian for the sake of an argument. What I will say, is that in my opinion, there is no justification for the barbaric shredding of a fox for no other reason than a jolly up.
Apparently it is not only my opinion either. A recent IPSOS MORI poll has shown that 80% of rural folk are AGAINST fox hunting, the same amount as those in urban areas, so the Countryside Alliance is not representative of rural people at all, just a small elite who rampage (often against the will of other farmers and landowners) through fields, smashing down fences and terrifying livestock. You will find many of these people are indeed, well-heeled City folk who couldn’t tell a kestrel from a hedge sparrow.
I know some landowners and they are not all bad people, however, there are many, like tory MP Richard Benyon for example, who would happily kill everything that got in the way of his pheasant and partridge shoots, including the massacre of buzzards and red kites as well as foxes. The poor old Hen Harrier has been hunted to the verge extinction in the uplands of Northern Britain.
The fact is, if some farmers had their way, the only British wildlife would be livestock, pheasants and partridges, with any indigenous animal hunted to extinction. To justify this and attempt to sway public opinion, they sporadically get right wing newsgroups to release a piece in their newspapers accusing a fox of going into the Wimbledon branch of Timpsons, getting a key cut, and proceeding to break in to a suburban home to polish off a small child.
Anyway, as for the rest of the festive period, I have generally spent my time trying to work out what day it is, meeting occasionally with friends and beginning to long for a return to some sense of normality. By the time New Year arrives I am generally tired and have lost any energy that would allow me another tilt at over-eating and drinking in a bid to escape from the seemingly annual tragedy of an earthquake, plane crash or Tsunami at this time of year.
Is it really bad luck or do these events just get more publicity at Christmas because the sadness of losing friends or family is apparently enhanced at this time of year? If you have the misfortune to lose a loved one in an air crash in June, surely you don’t think “Phew, thank God it happened when the nights are light and the sun is shining, I wouldn’t have coped had it been Christmas!” I would think Christmas would be the last thing on someone’s mind when they get told of a tragedy, though the media convince us it must be worse somehow.
On a personal note, there were many aspects of 2014 that were great, whilst the first part could be seen as a bit of a disaster really. However, occasionally, a crisis is a good thing, as it teaches us to re-evaluate life and appreciate the good people around us rather than wasting our energy with people who have only been relevant over a short and destructive period of time; it is really not worth the hassle and upheaval, though I am the first to admit that you can only learn that through experience.
The second part of the year has been a great challenge with loads of positive stuff with work, relationships and hobbies, such as unprecedented success with Oakley Cricket Club winning all before them. It is sometimes tough to not get submerged in a black hole of self-pity when life kicks you testicles, but no-one is different and we are all faced with challenges at some point and actually, the best bit of that is when you find yourself ‘getting back on the horse’ and appreciating life for what it is.
A heart-attack and cancer done for two of my friends this year, so it was a timely reminder that mortality doesn’t allow second chances and the ability to re-invent yourself and crack on with it by waking up each day and seeing what challenges will come along next.
As one of the strangest of years during my forty-seven spent on the planet draws to a close, no-one is more aware of that than me.
Happy New Year to all my loyal readers, have a great time whatever you get up to.
*Anyone interested in the Poll regarding hunting (including dog fighting, badger baiting etc) can read it by clicking here it is quite interesting stuff.