Baa, humbug. Can you believe it's nearly Xmas?
Well, of course you do. You can't go anywhere by train or bus*
these days without being accosted by urchins clutching imitation guitars warbling 'Jingle Bells' offkey. There is nowhere you can escape from this aural onslaught. Shopping malls? They're even worse because you'll probably synch your window shopping to the strained sounds of the Massed Kindergarten Choir with their rendition of 'Away In A Manger'.
If you do stop to admire their cherubic faces, just remember that they've been rehearsing since October, not that it seems to have helped. If only they'd enlisted the help of Dr. Ian Russell of Village Carols
, then I doubt that you'd go home with that severe a headache.
Then there are the 'special events'. I don't really want anyone to suggest the worst demonstration of how to really alienate shoppers, mainly because the front page of today's Jakarta Post
seems to have got there before me. Fortunately the picture is not (yet) online so try to imagine this:Children gather around a "gingerbread"house made entirely of toys and a two meter tall Christmas tree made of plush dolls and robots at ITC Kuningan on Jl. Prof. Dr. Satrio, South Jakarta. The house, measuring 3.7 x 2.45 x 2.8 meters, provided on Saturday a backdrop for photos with Santa - while his Black Elves, drawn from Dutch tradition
(and blacked up to look like refugees from a minstrel show or models for Darkie toothpaste), asked children whether they'd been naughty or nice.
"I've been naughty and all I want for Kitschmas
Of course, Christmas is a time of giving. I often wonder at this time of year what might be an appropriate gift for the 80% of the population who are Muslim. Could this be it?
Given the way we, not including Jakartass of course, flock to the malls, perhaps the best gift would be a sheep
A baa me gift
Correspondents will no doubt swamp me with comments about being a grumpy old codger. After all, shopping is ingrained in (y)our psyches and it's only human nature to go overboard and into overdraft at this time of year. But do we consider where Santa's toys are made? It's not Lapland. No, think China and by kids in sweatshops
I suspect Santa knows, too. After all, he has his own website
and accepts payment through Paypal. But maybe not the Santa at Hamley's toy store in London who at least seems sympathetic to kids
.When I asked one little boy, 'What do you want for Christmas?', he replied, 'I just want my dad back from Iraq.' It's a tall order, even for Santa, and it really threw me. Finally I said, 'I think things over there are maybe starting to quieten down a bit and I think some might be coming home at Christmas. And I'll keep my fingers crossed and try and do my best and maybe talk to some people out there when I'm delivering to Iraqi children.' Then I went on a break because I was so choked up.
We seem to have removed most of the joy and innocence from the Season of Goodwill To All Men and, presumably, Women.
So it seems fitting to refer you to a recent news item.Laws of Nature to be RepealedA UN-led group hopes to repeal the laws of nature and stop the death and destruction caused by bad weather patterns, tectonic shifts, and aliens. As a result of recent disasters and extreme weather, in a move some say will only incite anger and retribution by none other than the Almighty, a UN-led group is planning to repeal most, if not all laws of nature.
*I'm referring to Jakarta's buses of course. They don't 'belong' to the people as much as London's buses do, or rather did. Until last Friday, that is ....