Tag Archives: Christmas

Of summers and friends long ago lost

If you watch your TV analytically you may notice that on boxing day the adverts suddenly change. Gone are temptations of chocolate and wiz bang toys, and hello to those long summer nights spent on a beach with golden white sand, and crystal clear waters reflecting the brilliant sun high above.

Yes the excitement of Christmas is over and the cold weather and long dark nights are becoming less romantic as you sit and go slightly mad with cabin fever. Your mind is transported away to that dream of summer holidays. Here in the UK August brings us distant memories of our childhood as we had no school for 6 long weeks. The sun always shone and walks through long grass lasted forever. Your hands were always sticky with juice from the abundance of fruit or ice-cream.

And now decades later as you look over your now trashed living room, the Christmas decorations have been knocked over so many times that the reindeer are missing an antler, Angels heads have been glued on backwards, and the advent calendar now devoid of chocolate looks pathetic. With maybe a sip of whatever wine you have left you close your eyes and try to remember that time when on holiday you remember falling back into the pool and the water was warm, laughter was heard from all around and even though your skin was a little raw from the sun it didn’t matter.

AS a child my parents always made sure we went away for the summer, it was only ever in a tent or later in a caravan as it as the most affordable way to get away.

One memorable year I was in my mid teens ( I think it was the last time away with my parents). We re-visited Cornwall We stayed on the Lizard point. Not far from an estuary, and hours walk through some cool shaded woods led us out onto a beach with no access by road, it was always empty and we were the only ones that could be bothered to make the walk. Games of tennis were played over hundreds of yards, with multiple players swapping sides to help balance out the score as one team went into the scores of triple figures, Sand castles always became taller and larger until we disappeared behind battlements feet thick. As the day wore on fire wood was gathered from the high tide mark or the dead wood within the woods behind us, the fire was lit. My father would retrieve his pipe from the bottom of an over stuffed bag and the smell of Black Cherry tobacco would mingle with the wood smoke and salt air, food would be cooked in the embers scrapped into a pit, as the Sun disappeared over the horizon, the fire would be piled up high and any walker within sight would be drawn to it. Gatherings of 20- 30 people would collect, from somewhere food would be produced, and bottles of drink procured and shared amongst us all. Late night paddles would become more and more boisterous and swimming challenges would ensue. Buoys marking lobster pots would be used as a measure of your prowess in the water.

 

Back on land games of football would be played by all ages, no goals were created just a constant game of passing and tackling degenerating into one game with, many parts as Frisbees and bats were also used. Then as the fire slowly died down all were seated around gazing into the glow of logs, the conversations became more philosophical and stories were shared. Then these once strangers would slowly go their separate ways making their way back to whence they came. Laughter could be heard from retreating families, and every now and then the snippet of a song, carried on the warm breeze.

 

Jamie

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/prompt-holidays-past/

Breaker Breaker Calling Father Christmas, over!

Daily Prompt

Out of your reach.

As I have mentioned in some of my other posts. I grew up on a small holding (hobby farm in Australia).

While my parents doted on us and we grew up knowing we were loved, there were some very hard times. My father worked full-time for the fire brigade and every spare penny went on feeding the animals or paying off the mortgage on the property.

We never lacked anything and Birthdays and Christmases were always filled with laughter and joy (Well through my now misty memory they were).

But I do remember one year, I yearned for a particular item. You know that feeling you have when your stomach aches, every minute your thoughts are consumed by this one feeling. You try to find out as much information about the item you can. This was before the internet, heck this was before Computers. Magazines pages were torn at the edges where you constantly thumbed to the page with the info on it.

For me that year I knew that my parents could not afford it but there was just a faint glimmer of hope in my young mind. Maybe those secretive talks were not about how to pay the electric bill but on how to get me this item. The quickly snatched away pieces of paper were not last demand notices, but in my mind order sheets. Needless to say that on Christmas morning a quick glance under the tree and my hopes were dashed, they plummeted from the sky with instant realisation.

Needles to say I still smiled when I was given my presents and have and will always say thank you and make the right noises. But that year a small hole was in my Christmas cheer.

Now many years later I struggle to remember the colour of the item I wanted. But really what would an eleven year old really do with a ‘Home base CB Radio’? Living in a valley that could only receive radio Luxemburg and only then when the sky was clear of clouds (West Wales remember that phenomenon happens once a few years).

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/out-of-your-reach/

Black Friday….or next Friday hopefully

Another fine tradition!

Yesterday across America and increasingly more areas of the world many families gathered around their dining table and shared a meal in thanksgiving for what they had received for the previous year, health, food, love etc etc.

But no it is not that tradition that has worked its way across the pond to our small rock here in the North Sea. But today this normal Friday that has become known as ‘Black Friday’.

Yes that’s right this sad day does not celebrate, any mass loss of life in a war or natural disaster, it does not commemorate a fallen hero. No this day can trace its origins back to the 1960’s  where every body heads out on mass to do one thing and one thing only, SHOP.

That’s right the day after the whole of America celebrates the things they have. They then queue outside department stores eager to get the latest thing they haven’t got for a knock down price. Woe betide anyone else in their way, they will trample over the fallen, shove the weak out of their way and manhandle the smaller to one side so they can ensure they have what they want.

Over this side of the pond we don’t…. is the right word ‘celebrate’. please don’t say it is, Black Friday on the same day. Ours is the last Friday before Christmas, that is the only difference. I have mentioned before about our consumerist society. Such a nice word isn’t it, consumerist. Another phrase we could use instead is ‘greedy’ or ‘I want’. But oh no that might offend someone, or be against their rights. Well prepare to be offended. Not by words but as the saying goes ‘one picture speaks a thousand words’. So here is two!

One picture shows our ‘consumerist society trying not to offend anyone hands out grabbing something they desperately want.

We will call it BLACK FRIDAY

The second picture,

well lets just call it ‘Probably won’t be alive next Friday’

Awww look at that the same stretched out hands, the same needey look in their eyes, that look on their faces saying they would ‘literaly die if they don’t get it, the clamouring in the background, the sad dissapointment of those that couldn’t get what they wanted. And the same goes for the second photo!

Hope you all have a really nice Christmas and get what it is you ‘want’.

Jamie

wanna, wanna, wanna,………..want one!

40 Billion miles. That is the estimated distance travelled by those shipping containers all over the world. What do they carry? Well absolutely everything, bits of plastic to make bigger bits, clothes, cars, hospital equipment. Have a look around you now and almost everything you can see has been moved in one of those containers. Within arms reach everything has been transported in the back end of a lorry.  There is nearly a quarter of a million lorries in the UK. If parked end to end, they will stretch almost two and a half thousand miles, or From ‘Lands end to John O’Groats and back again twice.

 

That number is being added to daily. Why? Well we are all to blame. We are now and have been for some time a consumer society. We want ‘stuff’ our economy is no longer based on what we produce here in the UK. The whole of our economy is based on what we spend in shops.

 

Selling is big business. I don’t mean the actual transaction, the figures of money spent in tills in the UK is mind boggling. What I mean buy ‘selling’ we also know as ‘advertising’. According to the ‘advertising association’ £100 billion is spent on advertising in the UK every year. For every £1 spent £6 is gained. It is now the middle of October and all the high street shops have started their Christmas lines. By the middle of November every shop will be packed full of Christmas goodies.

 

How much of these things do we really need or want. My wife and I enjoy a good coffee in one of the local branches of a nation wide coffee shop chain. After we finish we sometimes take a walk through the town back to our home and we will wander in and out of shops. Now we love charity, and second-hand shops. We have not decided to but into the up-cycle, reuse life style to amend for our capitalist ways. It’s just that we don’t have the money to spend on stuff full price. How ever we do also wander through the more upmarket nationwide branches. (Here in West Wales that’s Debenhams and the like). Everything about these shops silently scream buy me. But they don’t. They don’t just say buy me; selling an item is one sale, what many shops try to do is to get you to buy into a life style.

 

This is why celebrity endorsement is such a big business. If David Beckham, for example were to advertise a pair of trainers, the manufacturer could guarantee that they will sell thousands of pairs within a few weeks, because every seven year old boy interested in football would now be nagging their parents incessantly for a pair. Why because having those trainers would make you a little bit more like David Beckham and then you would be nearer playing for what ever team he plays for.

 

But brands want loyalty, next time you are in a shop predominantly selling clothing have a look at the walls, there are posters of happy people enjoying their lives in this clothing. These models are always perfect in stature, the clothing fits its always clean and more importantly they have friends exactly the same. If you buy that ‘hand chosen ethnically knitted top’ and of course you can justify the £89.99 price tag because you just know, that by wearing it you will have the same life as those people in the poster.  Besides the shop you are buying it from only has eight jumpers on display in three sizes so there are not going to be that many people or more importantly your friends wearing the same top. So you have not only brought into the lie of life style change but also the lie of exclusivity.

 

And for a while you have that warm feeling mixed with excitement, it is a thrill to buy. But that thrill wears thin and next time it doesn’t last as long, so you buy more often. Of course we tell ourselves that we deserve this stuff , we work hard besides we didn’t have much as kids, well not as much as our friend did, they always had new stuff all the time.

 

And we are now back to the children, and Christmas is fast approaching (well according to the shops it is). I always enjoy listening to the conversations about how much people spend at Christmas. You have the one that says £500 per person is just going to have to be enough this year. Then there is always the one that says their year has been tough so they are going to push out the boat a little and pay it of next year. Of course there is the smug one that says they have finished their shopping already it’s all wrapped they only need to buy a few items for close friends. Then you have me. They all look at me expectantly awaiting my response, I normally shrug my shoulders say my children will get one or two things we never get too much anyway. But they start pushing for figures. They want actual numbers and why? Its so they can feel smug knowing that their kids are going to have a better Christmas than ours because they have spent ten tines the amount we have. Because Christmas is abut spending money, and the more you spend the better you have done it.

 

I once asked a cashier at my local Tesco store how much money they have taken, This was late morning two days before Christmas. I had a bottle of milk and chocolate bar. They said they tried to keep a mental note on the amount going through their till But gave up after £30,000. This is one till of twenty in one store out of hundreds. And that is just one shop chain.

 

So is this a post about Christmas, or Consumerism, or money, its not even about capitalism. But it is just a thought about the way advertising now dominates our lives. If every shop front was the same, and every item came in plain brown wrapping would we really prefer one shop over the other? Would we have the headache we always seem to acquire after a few hours of walking around the shops? But then I suppose we would not have an excuse to nip in and have a nice coffee before heading home, and well not having coffee shops would mean I wouldn’t have the chance to sit down and ponder over a nice cup of coffee!

 

Till next time.