The really nice thing about December is that the festive season offers various opportunities to indulge in activities collectively described as “traditional”. The requirement to eat too much, drink too much and then argue with your nearest and dearest is compulsory. Being completely baffled by the Dr Who Christmas Special is as traditional as watching the Queen read a script and the traditional January salutation “did you have a nice Christmas?” is gradually being transmogrified into “so, you survived Christmas then”.
Sadly, in these enlightened times, very few of us still paint ourselves blue and jump over open fires to celebrate the winter solstice. Fewer still slaughter a sacrificial goat in the traditional hope of keeping sabre-toothed tigers away or to encourage the return of the warm shiny thing that travels across the big blue thing just above our heads. Tradition, like language, is constantly evolving and it is a blessing that buying enough food and drink to last until doomsday because the shops are shut for a day is not further complicated by the need to purchase those hard to find gifts such as frankincense and myrrh. Gold and lamb chops, however, continue to retain their traditional charm. What better way to celebrate the birth of the saviour of humanity than the gift of an already time-limited obsolete gadget, a bottle of scotch and the onset of obesity.
Mercifully, our incredibly successful government are working hard by making difficult decisions to restore our cherished traditional traditions. Forget z-list celebrities singing carols in top hats and crinolines and fake snow on TV Specials; we now have a proper traditional Dickensian Christmas. Portly well provisioned English gentleman in the House of Commons guffaw at tales of grinding poverty even as they award themselves a pay rise and ensure that their horses are kept warm during the winter. Stern governesses berate the idle poor for making destitution a life-style choice and remind us that spare bedrooms are only allowed if one has the burden of retaining household servants or if one is having a gala ball at the stately home. The Secretary of State at the Department of Work and Pensions has decided that a happier ending to Christmas would be if Tiny Tim committed suicide after being judged as a scrounger and therefore fit for work sweeping chimneys. God bless us, one and all.
There can be no better ritual that best epitomises English tradition than the landed gentry dressing up in fetish gear to encourage dogs to rip apart another animal. Fox hunting might be technically illegal but that is a minor consideration for the Minister of State for Police and Criminal Justice, the Under-Secretary of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning and the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change who all turned up to join in with the jolly vivisection on Boxing Day. Wearing tight jodhpurs and long, leather boots to the slaughter is much more enjoyable than gassing badgers. If you believe that this rather camp display of ostentatious superiority is intended to be barbaric to a fox scented rag being dragged around the countryside then you probably believe the utter drivel spewing out the mouths of Liberal Democrats. But, hey-ho, if a minister is caught acting unlawfully then the solution is simple. The government will just change the law and redefine red-handed, bang-to-rights, fair cop guilt into something called an error, oversight or honest mistake.
As well as animal cruelty for the pleasure of toffs, kicking beggars and a hatred of anyone who looks a bit “foreign”, Cameron and his wealthy chums have brought about a return of the traditional results of making the empire great. Poverty, inequality, division and social strife are just minor symptoms that are necessary to allow the rich to remain comfortable. How quaint to see the return of rickets, scurvy, malnutrition and hypothermia to keep the poor in their allotted place. To complete the Dickensian circle, medical help will only be available to those with a healthy bank balance.
December is almost gone and it is a long time until the May after next. In a parallel universe, the serfs and plebs might not be as patient we are and might just resort to the traditional method of removing corrupt robber Barons. Violent insurrection might be ugly, but at least it is traditional.