Dear All: Christmas is a time of year when, using the birth of the baby Jesus as an excuse, we like to give and especially receive presents to and from our loved ones. Everybody has their own agenda when it comes to Christmas; be it presents, family, joy, love, and – just occasionally – Christ himself. Nevertheless, I know many of you – and indeed many of my subjects around the world – feel immense pressure at Christmas, and for a variety of reasons. The big day itself is a culmination of months of planning, buying presents, buying food, more planning, inviting friends and family, buying wrapping paper, still more planning, and buying decorations. Have I left anything out? I’m convinced that the biggest winners through the whole festive period are the makers of Sellotape.
Oh, and what constitutes ‘the festive period?’ Note that I don’t use the word Christmas for the sake of inclusion. Sure, it’s a Christian festival…or is it? When Christians first arrived in this country via the Romans (I believe) they adopted a British pagan festival celebrating a sun god to celebrate the birth of Jesus. This we know. And we also know that Christmas long ceased to be a Christian festival for the majority of people once all the other things that I listed above became more important. Anyway, to cut a long story short, as far as I can tell, the festive period begins around the time the kids go back to school at the beginning of September until the official ‘twelfth day’ which is traditionally January 6. The main reason, of course, that Christmas begins so early is so that our supermarkets, and other corporate online retailer giants, can sell you stuff. Lots of stuff. And relatives with kids (both young and old!) feel the pressure to buy the gifts ‘from Santa’ that they actually want.
In every sense, the mask has fallen to the floor, the defences are down; no-one gives a s*** about Christmas as a festival celebrating the birth of one Jesus Harold Christ. It’s a commercial one, pure and simple (feel free to run the Hear’Say No.1 hit in your head right now). Money, money, money (feel free to run the ABBA hit…oh, you get the drill). If it were suddenly made illegal to give and receive presents, Christmas would collapse right now and be celebrated by about three people in some small village fundamentalist Church of England in the middle of nowhere. And that’s another thing; the bloody Christmas No.1! Some of the CRUD that gets released in the good name of having the festive chart topper. Thank goodness that Clean Bandit’s single, ‘Rockabye’ beat them all off (if you’ll pardon the expression) with a sharp stick.
All of this relates to Christmas as a general institution. Let us now, dear subjects, look at this year’s festive season and how we have arrived here on our journey through 2016. Many have travelled through 2016 with much sadness as family, friends and fans have grieved the loss of their heroes from the world of arts and entertainment, not to mention politics and other areas of life. For me, it was David Bowie, Victoria Wood, Muhammad Ali, and Prince. Yesterday, I was floored to hear of the death of Rick Parfitt, out of Status Quo. All of these knocked many around the world for six, but for me these deaths left me feeling still more desolate as I struggle to cope with more personal losses of family and friends. Even now I feel lost, walking in the desert with no compass or sat nav.
And, of course, both Britain and America suffered losses of their own as sovereign nations – Britain voted by a narrow margin to leave the ‘European Union,’ or ‘Brexit’ as some bright media spark must have struggled for hours to come up with. Only problem was, those who campaigned to Leave the EU had forgotten to come up with a means of HOW to do it. Thus, like the proverbial rudderless ship, our beloved Government have been leading us all round the houses trying to figure out the best way to do it without upsetting too many of their beloved voters. David Cameron resigned and took his cabinet with him; once again we have a Prime Minister NOT GIVEN A MANDATE TO BE SO by the British people. Bloody Tories.
Speaking of which, now that the Tories have sold our N.H.S. off good and proper, it is with depressing inevitability and regularity that we hear almost every day of some local ‘trust’ or other failing to provide enough beds, services, doctors, nurses, cleaners and medicine for those who need it – the taxpayers who pay into it in the first place. Not that staff don’t want to provide the service – the vast majority are more dedicated to their jobs than in other vocations – and that makes the situation even more sad. Even as the Tories passed the Health & Social Care Act in 2012, pigs were waiting at the trough to start diving in and grabbing the choicest services for themselves. See my video on the subject here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpHoyrXJcaI People often go in with one illness and come out sicker with another. And nothing is changing in 2016 because the general public, us, are not willing or able to fight back. This was the year they beat us down. For good? We shall see.
Americans will be mourning the election of DONALD TRUMP to the Presidency, commencing January 20. How did THAT HAPPEN? Five years ago, if someone had used the words ‘Donald Trump’ and ‘President’ in the same sentence I would have laughed. And I mean, properly laughed. But now he actually is, and even now I have to write it out and stare at it for long periods to even stand a chance of believing it. Most Americans are worried; Democrats have tried every which way to force Trump out even before he takes office. Sadly, many liberals and left-wingers are unable to accept democracy – ironic since many belong to the Democratic Party – and the same was true in Britain in June, when many Labour supporters called for a second Brexit vote. I appealed to my subjects for calm, to accept democracy in both instances, but of course it fell on deaf ears. Americans simply told me that their nation was a republic and not a democracy, because it says to in the Constitution. That may be so, but why bother voting at all if that were the case? As it was some 42 % of America’s voters failed to show at the ballot box; THAT is the reason Hillary Clinton lost, nothing to do with swing states or corruption or any such excuse that Democrats have used to hide their embarrassment. Republicans, right-wing Christian gun-worshipping hypocrits were whooping up and down in crowing glee, while many of those with a conscience were left mourning the loss of common sense in so many parts of the world where democracy and rational thought once triumphed. 2016 was the year that Britain and America embraced racism, nationalism, and open paranoia about the loss of their borders.
So what, my dear friends, of the future? On January 20, Donald J. Trump becomes President of the USA, and who knows what happens after that. Even I have no clue what’s going to happen, other than a period of utter madness that may last the full four years of Trump’s leadership. Others who are more politically savvy than I may be able to answer that; who knows, they may disagree with me entirely on this.
Meanwhile, I will continue to watch movies and make music. I will watch the news off the internet and let you know the salient stories as they happen, so you don’t have to. I will continue to search for a meaning to this otherwise pointless existence. I will continue to speak from the heart, and not from WIKIPEDIA. I will continue to adore my dear wife Jane who has tolerated me for what is now almost 29 years. She has been beside me, supporting me and giving me the gift of her life every day. And so, in closing, I feel strangely positive about this Christmas and for 2017. And the nearness of my dear wife is the reason behind that. I have done wrong many times; it is the ones who stick with me and love me in spite of that who are the keepers in life. And I hope that you are all able to feel the same or similar* about your loved ones. I promise you, there is no greater gift. I’m not pretending that it’s all hearts and flowers either; life has been very difficult for both my wife and myself, but in spite of it she’s still here, and I wouldn’t change a day of it.
And I’M FINALLY GOING TO SEE OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN on January 26, in London. Bloody hell. I’ve only waited almost 39 years. All right, it’s not a regular concert, more of a sit-down celebration of grief and loss promoting an album with two other singers, but I don’t care; it’s Olivia Newton-bloody-John, for goodness sake. I doubt I shall even hear what anyone else is saying. And if she comes back to do a regular show like The Tour I Missed in 2013, I’ll be there also.
In conclusion, I invite 2017 to bring me its challenges and achievements and face me with them head-on; I will embrace them. As all of our heroes who have died this year would testify if they could, life is indeed short and one must try and embrace every day as positively as possible; for even great men and women are not exempt from The Final Croak. But I also appreciate how difficult it is, in certain circumstances, to remain positive, or even to avoid depression. For many days, weeks, months or years I have felt its heavy weight upon my shoulders; pushing me to the ground so that all I see is a burnt, blackened wasteland with black clouds above and no life anywhere. Speaking personally, I have to believe that there is a way out.
May the Force be with you all. x
*You may have to go up or down an insurance group at no extra cost to yourself, depending on availability.