Saturday, 22 November 2008

Yule Be Surprised........................

I must express my support for Oxford city council who have confirmed that forthcoming events in the city will be renamed 'Winter Light Festival' to make them more inclusive, even though it is provoking outrage among shoppers in the city who have called for a return to tradition.

The idea has come from the charity Oxford Inspires, the cultural development agency for the county which runs the celebrations.  Such a charity can begin at my home whenever it likes.

This gaudy drunken hangover from the pagan festival of Saturnalia has some unlikely supporters.

Sabir Hussain Mirza, chairman of the Muslim Council of Oxford, said: "I am really upset about this.  Christians, Muslims and other religions all look forward to Christmas.

Fr Brian Van-Dungey, a priest in Garsington, Oxfordshire, said: "I am a Christian and pleased to see my Muslim brothers joining in the condemnation of this stupid and dangerous idea; this sort of thinking creates racial problems and should be stopped in its tracks."

Rabbi Eli Bracknell, who teaches at the Jewish Educational Centre in the city, said: "It is important to maintain a traditional British Christmas.  Anything that waters down traditional culture and Christianity in the UK is not positive for the British identity."

Historically Christ has nothing to do with Christmas. He was probably born in September in A.D 04 if you see what I mean

It is  not even traditionally British.  Father Christmas was the nineteenth century invention of an American copywriter.  The tree is German; the Yule Log is Norse.  Look in vain among the great diarists for descriptions of the shopping and drinking orgy we will be undergoing shortly.

Oxford Inspires spokesman Tei Williams said: "In Oxfordshire we have Winter Light, which is a whole festival spanning two months.  Within that festival will be Christmas Carol services."

Liz Gresham of Oxford Inspires added: "We changed the name to be more inclusive."

Although my ancestry is blatantly Royalist I incline toward the Puritans.  A party that tried to ban Christmas cannot be entirely bad.  Similarly, I cannot bring myself to hate Napoleon because he had the good sense to shoot a publisher.  Name of Palme.  And there is a certain irony to think of the Palme outstretched in a gesture typical of his trade.

Christmas in its present form was largely invented by Charles Dickens but he could not foresee what a mess we would make of it.


In place of Christmas I will be holding a Dickens’ Festival in our Stately Bungalow.  On December 6th we visit Rochester for their Christmas Dickens’ Festival.  From then until Christmas Eve I will be showing Celia and Taz a collection of the DVDs of the great Dickens’ classics which I have assembled from raids on E Bay, ending with Pickwick Papers and Alastair Sim’s tour de force “A Christmas Carol”.  Traditionally on Christmas Eve we have a DVD of Peter Brook’s production of the Pepita Nutcracker, danced by the Royal Ballet.  I adore Dickens but I am not pedantic.  I have a friend who is and it is very wearing.  But I do not approve of the way that great author is being hacked about in the admittedly very watchable Andrew Davies’ versions on TV.  In Little Dorrit, for example, we are shown a coloured girl with the ridiculous name of Tattycoram who we are invited to believe is a slave.

In Dickens’ version she is not coloured.  She is a foundling who was taken in by the Meagles, her adoptive family, to replace a deeply loved daughter who died in infancy.  The family wished to love and care for one of the unhappy children banished to foundling homes.  By tradition, all such children were given the surname ‘Beadle’ after one of the most hated of public offices.  Her new family thought this demeaning and so changed her name to Harriet Coram, naming her after the philanthropist who founded the homes.  ‘Tatty’ was the diminutive they used to disguise her arbitrary name of Harriet because, in Meagles’ words, “we thought that as a new thing for her, it might have a softening and affectionate kind of effect.”  There is no suggestion her “protector” is a lesbian, and we are made aware in a masterly fashion by Dickens early in the narrative that Flintwinch has a brother.


From Tony Bilborough in Australiia come the following  wise words:

Political Correctness "is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."



My old friend, former Daily Mail columnist and blog reader John Edwards, offers the following gem:



FROM: Pauline, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 21st October 2008
RE: Christmas Party
I'm happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks! We'll have a small band playing traditional carols...please feel free to sing along. And don't be surprised if the MD shows up dressed as Santa Claus! A Christmas tree will be lit at 1.00p.m. Exchange of gifts among employees can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over $20.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone's pockets. This gathering is only for employees! The MD will make a special announcement at the Party.
Merry Christmas to you and your Family.

FROM: Pauline, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 22nd October 2008
RE: Holiday Party
In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognize that Chanukah is an important holiday, which often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year. However, from now on we're calling it our 'Holiday Party'. The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians. There will be no Christmas tree or Christmas carols sung. We will have other types of music for your enjoyment.
Happy now?
Happy Holidays to you and your family.

FROM; Pauline, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 23rd October 2008
RE: Holiday Party
Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking didn't sign your name. I'm happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads, 'AA Only', you wouldn't be anonymous anymore!!!! How am I supposed to handle this? Somebody? Forget about the gift exchange, no gift exchange allowed now since the Union Officials feel that $20.00 is too much money and Management believe $20.00 is a little cheap. NO GIFT EXCHANGE WILL BE ALLOWED.

FROM: Pauline, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 24th October 2008
RE: Holiday Party
What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20th begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees' beliefs, perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party - or else package everything up for you to take home in a little foil doggy bag. Will that work? Meanwhile, I've arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet and pregnant women will get the table closest to the toilets, Gays are allowed to sit with each other, Lesbians do not have to sit with gay men, each will have their own table. Yes, there will be flower arrangements for the gay men's table too. To the person asking permission to cross dress - no cross dressing allowed. We will have booster seats for short people. Low fat food will be available for those on a diet. We cannot control the salt used in the food we suggest those people with high blood pressure taste the food first. There will be fresh fruits as dessert for Diabetics; the restaurant cannot supply 'No Sugar' desserts. Sorry! Did I miss anything?!?!

FROM: Pauline, Human Resources Director
TO: All F***ing Employees
DATE: 25th October 2008
RE: The F****ing Holiday Party.
Vegetarian pricks I've had it with you people !!! We're going to keep this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the 'grill of death', as you so quaintly put it, you'll get your f***ing salad bar, including organic tomatoes, But you know tomatoes have feelings too, They scream when you slice them. I've heard them scream. I'm hearing the scream right NOW!!
I hope you all have a rotten holiday, drink drive and die.
The Bitch from HELL!!!

FROM: John Benson.( Acting Human Resources Director )
TO: All Employees
DATE: 26th October 2008
RE: Pauline Lewis and Holiday Party
I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Pauline a speedy recovery, and I'll continue to forward your cards to her. In the meantime, the Management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and instead, give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd December off with full pay.
John Benson.