Christmas: a time of routine, ritual and togetherness. My personal routine is one which involves being together with the other twenty thousand shoppers who have decided Christmas Eve itself has more than enough hours in which to franticly grab a sufficient number of gifts to not make one look like a cheapskate.
It's a tradition which is only two years old, essentially since I have been at university, and it's not born because I am incredibly disorganised. It is however because I hate many of the things which go with Christmas. In particular Christmas shopping, in a busy town centre, a busy town centre which is grey and drab and has been rudimentarily tarted up by some council flunky who insists of using decorations which were first taken out of the box to celebrate the fall of the Berlin wall. Beneath the twinkling display of bad taste will inevitably be carol singers. Carol singers really get my goat, not solely because they feel the need to bellow songs which they appreciate at the passing world (if some pals and I were to gather and inflict our rendition of the latest Kings of Leon album upon a town centre of our choosing we'd likely be asked to move along by a helpful officer of community support) it's the grins which adorn their faces which get me. The grins signify to me that these people believe they can, and are, changing the world using the power of collective song, the kind of people who worry if Africa do "know it's Christmas time at all?" and wear those oversized boastful poppies on the 11th of November because they remember the fallen more than us mortals.
Leaving festive preparations until 3pm on the 24th December is entirely rational, a light at the end of the tunnel. I know that I have a few hours before the shops shut and the carol singers go back to their bible group for another year, I have no chance of accidently bumping into them as I would if I had done my gift buying any earlier. The keener eyed of The Gateway's readership may have noticed that this method is susceptible to a few problems; the mentality of gift choosing does change somewhat. Instead of seeing something and saying to yourself "that's just what they want" you do tend to hear the words "that'll do" a trifle more often. I am taking all of the credit for this attitude, which is entirely plagiaristic of me; Woolworths have been doing it for years.
Whoever was in charge of Woolies' product buying has to be the world's most prolific "that'll do-er". Now I'm going to be honest, I'm not entirely sure of the process one would have to undertake in order to get a product onto the shelves of a large high street chain. Some sort of pitch maybe? I can guarantee that Woolworths didn't use pitching, they used a lucky dip or a coin toss to decide what to stock. How else did "Steam", a ten-disc (yes, ten) DVD boxset including such classic titles as "The Glory Days Of Express Steam Train" priced at £24.99 make it to the shelves? My deep-rooted hatred of public transport aside, I don't know how many people really to watch ten discs worth of trains choo-chooing through Wales. Upon being presented with "Steam" the Woolies product buyer can only have reacted with "ah yes, that'll do, someone will buy that".
This leads me to what is absolutely great about recession. Recession, to me just seems like one big spring clean. Jobs which are being done by some happy-go-lucky that'll do-er are eradicated from existence. It's not just pointless jobs, it's pointless companies and products too. Just look at Whittards of Chelsea. I like tea, I like teapots and I also like mugs with large colourful spots sold to me in recycled, reclaimed, eco-cardboard boxes, but I don't need a new one every day and neither does anybody else. Next year Christmas shopping will be so much easier, all the tat-floggers will be in the dole queue and I will only be able to buy things people want! No more "that'll do!"