I fucking hate Christmas.
More specifically, I hate the enforced gestalt jollity of it all. Groupthink, hive mind, let’s not think for ourselves or follow our own way: let’s allow the calendar to do it for us. And I hate it even more this year, because after a busy few weeks I have TOTALLY BLANKED SHOPPING from my mind, so I’ve got to do it today, on the second-busiest shopping day of the year. I hate this.
I also hate the way I feel today. Throat raspy from a cold and heating left off on precisely the night the weather turned from wet to wintery, I wake up in a room resembling a tomb and shiver from the first moment. I hate this.
In accordance with prophecy, my PC rebels. 124 emails trying to get in and only 41 managing it. It turns out (much later) the encrypted volume that holds my .pst is chocka, and I have to find some way of bucketing a gig or two over the ramparts before I can read up. I hate this.
I go downstairs. Muesli isn’t appetising at zero degrees, so I give up on my cholesterol reading and find some eggs and bacon. And instead of a Kirlian glow, I go out on a fatty cloud of salted toxicity, sluggish and spluttering in the SE8 subzero. Barely out of my door and I’m ready to punch someone. I hate this.
I reach Oxford St. Of course, it is filled with people: smiling, glowing, gag-happy people, each of whom has made it their individual mission to make me want to PUKE. I decide to hate every one of them, one by one. I hate you, little man blowing your filthy fag smoke in my eyes. I hate you, couple who wouldn’t unlink hands so I had to break you apart as I followed my line. I hate you, foul family of four, for taking up the entire width of walkway despite Oxford St being closed to traffic. I really, really hate this.
Everything to buy on Oxford St is, of course, utter crap. Toilet bags, scarves, kitchen implements, salt and pepper and olive oil, cheap and nasty imitations of wonderful things all packaged and wrapped in tacky boxes eight times too big which successfully force the transition from crap to COMPLETE AND UTTER CRAP, clutter designed to fill the holes in people’s empty lives, the right shape but the wrong substance. Shop windows everywhere yet there’s nothing to buy. I hate this.
By the time I get to Bond St I’m ready to cry. There is no longer any possibility that I can enter any of these shops without actually killing someone. I’ve got a shopping list in my pocket, names against items, grudgingly put together in a haze of red the prior night. I pass a small jewellery shop I’ve bought from so many times, bright and beautiful as a cut vase, yet I dare not go in, because anything I bought there would be forever tainted with the memory of my hatred. I hate this.
I forge back up the milling swill of smiling simians towards Oxford St, cross, duck into the tiny entrance to St Peter’s Place. Sanctuary of a sort. Space enough to see pavement, while scant metres away the global village idiots tumble and twirl to their lowest-common-denominator delights in an orgy of paper cups and shrinkwrap. I’m not free of this mad, mad world, but the red mist subsides. I walk further. To a place I haven’t been to for a while, a pool of calming waters four floors under the streets. I enter the familiar chambers, descend into calm, and stroke forty brief lengths to drown my anger. It helps, but just because I had to do it I hate this, too.
And – after hating the barely-hot sauna and steamroom below streets, and emerging fresher and calmer – I find a kind of peace. Marylebone High St, the ideal shopping street. Things made rather than manufactured, sold rather than retailed, smaller emporia and friendlier people. Boxes not garish or fake, yet natural and deep where the colours go all the way through. I buy… not everything, but a few things. Perfumed consumable things that won’t clutter anyone’s life, that they might find useful and love for a few minutes. Four purchases that make the day… something less than a total waste.
But oh, the red mist descends once more as I hit Oxford St again. It’s ‘Santacon‘ day, and twice a hundred scarlet-clad WANKERS have chosen to follow me into the Tube SPECIFICALLY TO ANNOY ME. I’m sure I catch sight of a postcard with my name and description tucked into the hip pockets of some of them. Into M&S, down escalators, but they’re following. Just as I think I’ve given them the slip, one follows me onto the Jubilee Line and starts making Grinch-gestures with a pair of fake antlers. Fake Santas, I ESPECIALLY hate you.
I hate this. Christmas, fuck you and the reindeer you rode in on. I’m fucking going to bed early.