'Visitors young and old will be amazed when they arrive at your home and see a larger than life fully lit outdoor reindeer complete with bells and sleigh.' A Christmas catalogue

First published in News by

Is it too soon to put up my Christmas tree? I have held off until after Bonfire Night but feel the lure of the baubles and seeing the lights going up in Cirencester and festive shop windows I am spurred on. Last year I was robbed of Christmas. The only moment that captured anything like the true spirit was when my car was bogged down in snow on the way to Gloucester hospital on Christmas Eve. Unhelpfully I sat with tears spouting forth from my eyes wishing, not for the first time in my life, that I had been born a male sterile orphan who would be spared such horrors (I can be dramatic). Happily, lovely men appeared and dug me out and led the way to the hospital, not stopping for thanks but just waving me in. Banning illness and attention-seeking brushes with death this year I intend to compensate. One perennial Christmas tradition is to complain about Christmas – the expense, the tackiness, the waste, the insensitivity to the poor, the disregard for its religious significance or lack of it, the sheer exhaustion of it all and the dire television. How much better, people say, to ignore the whole greedy fiasco.

I have just driven past the temporary camp-site in Queens Square in Bath which is typical of so many springing up in our towns and cities. The objections of the protesters seem to me to be perfectly reasonable and they dislike all the things most of us dislike. Particularly greed and gross inequality. Where they appear to be short is on specific solutions. I spoke with a student whose only suggestion for change was a return to a bartering economy. Absurd. Charming as he was I could not help but notice that he had even less knowledge of bank regulations than I do and was unaware of the significant changes being made at present. His ideal model sounded like North Korea which I pointed out is undemocratic which surprised him. His right to protest, however ill-informed, is what we are addressing in Syria so we must tread carefully, more carefully than The Church, to control and contain and tolerate. Meanwhile my effort for the economy will centre around supporting local retail even if when I return with my goodies I find that everything is made in China. Including my illuminated reindeer.

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