Martin Kirby Column; A Bag Of Humbugs, Old News and Getting Off Lightly
CHRISTMAS? BAH – HUMBUG!
Those who take the internet route to local news will probably have seen the 'Grinchometer' Christmas survey on our thisisgloucestershire website, with questions such as; 'How excited are you about Christmas'?
Having given the survey a cursory look I decided I could easily out-grinch most people taking part in it – so I didn't bother. In fact my lack of festive enthusiasm is an annual source of annoyance to the Yuletide-loving Mrs Kirby. I refuse to accept that I'm miserable; it's just that I don't get as excited as others do at the prospect of spending about four months preparing for an event that lasts around a day and a half.
Ask people what their ideal Christmas consists of and it's very likely that 'a white one' will be high on the list. Why? Who in their right mind would want two feet of snow at a time when trailing around the houses of friends and relatives is an important part of the tradition? And there can't be much joy in cooking a turkey for 12 people and finding it's just you and the cat at the table because none of your guests could get there.
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We have Charles Dickens to thank for the image of Christmas being no fun unless there is snow on the ground. He was influenced by the fact that during the first nine years of his life, there were six white Christmases. One of the most popular Christmas card images is of people dressed in early 19th century fashion, cheerfully alighting from a horse-drawn carriage and climbing snow-covered steps to front doors decorated with holly wreaths.
A more accurate depiction in the 21st century would be of tango-tanned ladies falling out of a taxi and vomiting down the front of their little black dresses.
As for wishing Jesus a happy birthday, forget it. Apart from the fact that feasting and drinking owes more to paganism than Christianity, astronomers say that while it's true that a bright star appeared over Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, it happened during the month of June, not December.
Christmas music isn't always what it seems either. 'Can You Stop The Cavalry' by Jona Lewie is played hundreds of times in December but it was actually written as an anti-war song. Despite making a lot of money from the deal, Mr Lewie has never forgiven his record company for picking up on the line " I wish I was at home for Christmas", adding a tubular bell and marketing it as a Christmas song.
Still, for the sake of my granddaughters and my long-suffering wife, I will do my best to enjoy the festive period. After all, it's only once a year!
DID THEY HAVE NEWS FOR YOU?
I was very interested in the resurrection of a copy of The Citizen dating back to 1891, which was found inside a chimney at the A G Meek shoe shop. My grandfather, Frank Lovesy, was born in 1899 and at that time, his father had been a compositor at The Citizen for some years, so it's likely to be a newspaper that my great-grandad, also called Frank, had a hand in producing. Things were much different then, working by gas light with heavy machinery, but the aim was the same as it is today; local news for local people. I wonder whether, 121 years from now, somebody will unearth an antique iPad with thisisgloucestershire still on its screen.
EV'NIN ALL, MIND HOW YOU GO
I sometimes find it hard to understand how the police decide what is right or wrong.
Clip a mouthy kid around the ear and you'll be in court the next day, yet kids performing 'doughnuts' and driving dangerously around the Bruton Way car park, as well as throwing items off the building and spitting at people are given a warning.
Officers told the perpetrators they 'risk having their cars seized if they carry on'.
How about seizing the cars immediately – as well as dishing out a fine?
Move along now.