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16 December 2012
Coronemus nos rosis antequam marcescant
Let us drink and be merry, dance, joke, and rejoice,
With claret and sherry, theorbo and voice!
The changeable world to our joy is unjust,
All treasure’s uncertain,
Then down with your dust!
In frolics dispose your pounds, shillings and pence,
For we shall be nothing a hundred years hence…..
Then why should we turmoil in cares and in fears,
Turn all our tranquill’ty to sighs and to tears?
Let’s eat, drink, and play till the worms do corrupt us,
“Tis certain, Post mortem [est]
For health, wealth and beauty, wit, learning and sense,
Must all come to nothing a hundred years hence.
Extract from a poem dated 1637 by Thomas Jordan (1612-1685).
And on that note……
Yuletide now looming. Can’t be avoided, worse luck. Same every year. Bog-standard Englishman’s home decked out with garish fairy lights. Sequins and tinsel. Downsized fir tree sprouting plastic angels. Christmas cards on the mantelpiece. My mum, if she felt she hadn’t had enough Christmas cards, for the neighbours to see, like, she brought out some of last year’s to make up the numbers. Christmas pud, a culinary cannon ball, just as heavy. Not really meant for eating, more for decoration. Not many people know that. Pity. Stops you up for days afterwards. Never touch it myself. Outside the fortress traffic snarl-ups all over the place. My bag broke and the lamb joint fell into the gutter. Still, it was raining, so I managed to clean it up a bit. Shops gorged with panicking customers. Buy now before it’s too late. It’s the end of the world on 21 December. Didn’t you hear what that Maya somebody or other said? Best enjoy life while we can. Carpe diem. That’s what we used to say in Hull when I was a girl. Mind you, that was a long time ago now. But those were the days, weren’t they? I was young and flighty then….Anyway, where was I? Tube trains packed to the gills with legless commuters “having a good time”. Office parties. Hip-hopping on the filing cabinet. The whole town’s gone mad. Everybody sozzled, blotto, pickled and stoned. People stuffing themselves in three days with enough victuals for a fortnight. Ramming it back as if there were no tomorrow. Cynosure of the junketings a giant replica of – guess what? – a Jar of Marmite – that’s the literal truth, I’m not making it up, cross my heart and hope to die. There it was all lit up lovely with a thousand light-bulbs at Oxford Circus right in the heart of London. What a great idea! Whoever thought of that, ’e should get a medal, ’e should. You can keep your crib and your manger. No time for that ’ere now. That’s all passé. We want fun. A sudden cold snap now. Back home and the water pipes burst. Just what we needed! All the plumbers on holiday, too. Better crack open another bottle. The show must go on. Only a few seats left. Christmas stockings packed with trinkets and baubles – and tangerines. Chocolate tangerines. We can’t have real fruit spoiling the festivities, now, can we? No added value, anyway. Unexploding crackers. None of them work. Must have been a bad batch. Excruciating jokes thought up by OAPs. Family rows. More family rows. Over-indulgence. Don’t feel too good, right now. Frankly, your sister-in-law… Silly games. Endless videos. Reality TV. Little Jimmie’s got a tablet. No, not that sort of tablet, you twit. Christmas Carols. All the old favourites. “We three kings of Orient are, one in a bus and one in a car….” Old films dating from the seventeenth century. The Queen’s Christmas Message – dating from the same period. We all stand up to watch it. More TV. Leftovers. That overfull feeling. Permanent hangover now setting in. The down-and-outs at the soup kitchen getting their one square meal of the year before hitting the sack again under the arches. The apex of the consumer year. A burning question: how much wonga will the stores make this Christmas? Can’t wait to know. Buy, buy, buy. You won’t be happy if you don’t. Get more, more, more. More what? More of anything. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as you are getting more of it. Forget the quality, feel the width. Live the life. Bloated Turkeys, greasy geese, rare beef dripping with blood. Foie gras. Lots of foie gras. Pity about the ducks, but it’s only once a year, after all. The holly and the ivy. Mistletoe. You show ‘em. You can live it up like the rest of ‘em. No trouble. You can turn yourself into a bloated pigskin crammed to the gills with the best things in life. It’s simple once you set your mind to it. Bubbly. Lots of bubbly. Open the stop-cocks. Roll out the barrel. What’s a party without fizz! You’ve said it, ol’ man. No buses. But then who’d want to go anywhere when the days are as dark as the nights. Just let’s ‘ave a good time. Oh, and Uncle Fred has just died, too. Poor dear. Well, he was 88. Had a good innings, did our Fred. Pity about the dementia. But then we don’t want a death in the family to spoil our Christmas, now do we? We’ve been waiting all year for this. What was it the Queen said, anyway? Annus horribilis? Well, it’s all Greek to me. Poor dear, bless ’er soul. It’s so ‘ard for them what’s at the top. Kelly, watch that flex. You’ll have the Christmas tree down on us before you know it. Come and sit down and have a nice mince pie. ’ave you tried my mince pies? Yes, you ‘ave, you tell me. You’ve had twenty of ’em since you arrived on Monday. Well, why not try another one now, anyway? It won’t do you any ‘arm. You’s been looking a bit pale lately. You need to put a bit of colour back into that face of yours. Want to try my face powder?….O dear, she’s fainted and that’s Coronation Street coming on the telly. I gotta watch that. Something important’s gonna ‘appen tonight. Darren, be a good boy and throw a jug of water over our Kelly. If she don’t come to soon, she’s gonna miss the start and she won’t like that. I’m starving again. Any crisps left?…
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
5.Ladder (21 June 2012)
6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.