Christmas Is Always Coming

So, let’s talk about Christmas, it’s obligatory with it being less than ten days away at this point and I do plan to discuss my actual day of Christmas with you on Christmas as it happens, a sort of sum up like last year followed by a retrospective of my year as a whole. However, for now, let’s discuss Christmas, in particular why some may view me as something of a Scrooge on the topic. I never really partake in festivities to the same degree as my friends – no antlers on my head, no Christmas jumper waiting to be sprung out come December and you’ll never get me singing along to Jingle Bells. A variety of reasons surround this, first and foremost is my social anxiety which insists that although everyone else in the room looks like a colossal dickhead wearing red noses and tinsel scarves, I will be the most dickheadiest of dickheads if I join in, that somehow my foolishness isn’t just fun, it’s utterly disgusting and degrading to watch and people will remember the display as a reason to hold me in slightly less high regard. On the other hand, there are some other reasons I’m not huge on Christmas as a whole, which I’ll cover over the course of this post.

Now, don’t be mistaken in thinking I want December 25th to be just another day on the calendar and we don’t bother at all, that’s not it, I think it’s nice that we all agree to dedicate some time of the year to togetherness and family time and so on – though it sucks to the nth degree not all of us get that. Christmas, forced onto the mainstream by a previously Christian dominated society and now kept around for people of all walks of life due to a combination of tradition and marketing, is fun when you’re in the right setting for it with the right people and resources and so on – hard to be miserable at Christmas when you have all you want. The problem is just that though, Christmas is such a beacon of light and joy that some of us expect it to cast out the negativity simply the grace of existing and we can overlook the pains, struggles and loneliness of our fellow men because we think “It’s Christmas, someone will do something for them and they’ll probably feel better with a belly full of turkey and some nice new trinkets to unwrap”. Here then. we have that phrase, that phrase that is the bane of my life every single year between the end of October and December 26th.

“BUT IT’S CHRISTMAS!”

You know what? So fucking what if it is? We’re aware what time of year it is, which by the way, I resent for creeping earlier and earlier into the year, partly because I’m a November baby and partly because it applies the pressure to be cheerful and excited on depressed folk like me before they’re even in the right frame of mind to adopt false happiness. Christmas isn’t some be all, end all cure to the woes of the world, whatever Bob Geldof insists on telling you. The reality is Santa doesn’t deliver world peace, bosses don’t always let things slide because the big day is coming and not every broken heart finds someone willing to bring them out of the cold, let’s not delude ourselves. If we perpetuate Christmas as being the best thing to happen in a year, it loses that status because we don’t need to do anything, it becomes that for the consumerist masses just by being Christmas – people already have their Christmas spirit pumping without the need for volunteering in a soup kitchen or checking in on their lonesome neighbour who doesn’t have kids to come visit or whatever. By doing that, Christmas becomes less and less like the fairy tales and slips more and more into what cynics like me have been calling it for years – a mass of over-excited meatheads stuffing their faces and buying shit.

So, Christmas lovers, maybe you’re think I’m being a Grinch hmm? I just don’t understand because I’m a misery right? Maybe you’re right, this year is seeing me be the most depressed I’ve been at Christmas time since my schoolboy days, for reasons too personal to disclose here. However, last Christmas (Don’t), I wasn’t as bad, I had money, friends and even though Christmas didn’t happen at my home, I did my fair share of philanthropic gestures and gift giving and even then I STILL wrote an article about how overhyped Christmas is and how unfair it is on children in particular. I love Christmas and that’s speaking as a staunch Atheist to whom Christmas has no religious meaning to give remembrance for, it’s literally just “Winter is shit but hey presents and food happen!”. but I still love this idea of a time in which we stop to think about people and how we can express our love for them, my only concern is that perhaps we lost sight of that.

You know the shpiel here, that Christmas has become about buying affection rather than earning it, in showing love through consoles and laptops rather than actual words of kindness or shows of support and many of you will roll your eyes at the goody two-shoe deal here but it is so important we remember that and we must remember that Christmas isn’t a time of joy for us all, no matter how much you wish it to be. Tragic story time, my Dad when I was young, despised Christmas, so much that seeing decorations filled him with dread and sorrow because to him, it didn’t mean joy and laughter, it meant a time of spending money and fulfilling other people’s dreams because if he didn’t, he had to disappoint them. We had no decorations in our house until Christmas Day itself and they’d come down again afterwards as soon as Dad could manage it, just so he didn’t have to see that tree for one second longer than he had to. I didn’t understand as a child, I don’t think my Dad ever realised that as a kid, I was always happy at Christmas with anything he got me – probably because kids are so shit at being grateful for stuff. We’ve always lived on the breadline in this home and to then have December 25th pop up “JUST A HEADS UP, YOU BETTER SPEND AT LEAST LIKE… £500 ON GIFTS OR PEOPLE WILL THINK YOU DON’T LOVE THEM” when you can barely afford £5, it’s terrifying and makes you resent Christmas as being a toll, a challenge to PROVE your love and selflessness, as if everything else you did all year didn’t count.

Christmas is getting a little too big for its own boots here and stomping on the poor and the heartbroken, it brings joy not only because we are all given what we want and are giving those we love what they want but because everyone looks happy when you push the unhappy ones out of the photo frame. I’m not even going to try and count the number of times my depression has been muddled up with a lack of Christmas spirit, that somehow all this obnoxious corporate money-grabbing and ugly jumper parties should be the strongest mood medication I could ever want. Somehow though, it is not but I still partake in Christmas – gifts have been bought, nice gestures done without the hope of them being returned have been performed and on Christmas Day, as is my tradition, I contact everyone I consider a friend to at least give season’s greetings.

So, what am I saying here, you ask? The article has sort of read as a general guilt-tripping Santa-bashing bitterness sandwich but I guess ultimately, I want you to read this and remember that Christmas in and of itself is not special, Christmas is as special as we make it for ourselves and others. If you think buying lots of stuff is all it takes, well done, you’re nothing more than a patsy Amazon and Wal-Mart will bleed dry year upon year, but Christmas is about charity and charity isn’t just giving to the homeless, it’s showing love. PLEASE take this time to check on people and that they’re ok, if that’s the only genuinely good thing you do that isn’t all about presents, please make sure that miserable fuckers like me are at least safe and comfortable this Christmas. I guarantee you that everyone who hates Christmas has a reason for it and it’s no good telling them to just cheer up; do something that makes this time of year a little easier for them.

Merry Christmas.

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Catching Flies

Well this has been a long time coming but at last the Old Man returns. I know what you’re thinking, it is either “Who?” or “Where have you been?” to which I respond thusly: Jacob Wolfe, the left-winged lunatic with a bone to pick with every aspect of the modern world from music and film to politics and economy. I have been gone for a long time and I apologise for that but in that time I’ve dealt with several demons. I broke up with my long term partner after having a mental breakdown and then failed my exams, landing myself squarely in a rut. I had a job, briefly, and was on JSA but I’ve now been told I’m not allowed that anymore because I called in sick on two occasions and that’s just not on. I am running the house and home on behalf of my father whilst my stepmother is away, meaning that as well as trying to find paid work, I’m doing housework simply because somebody has to. As I write this, I’m currently at odds and ends with a lapse in my self-esteem and motivation but I’m still trying and I’m improving very slowly in spite of medical and emotional issues trying to pin me down. As far as life goes, if people describe their life as shit then mine has been the plumbing system of an Indian restaurant because all of that only adds up to most of my troubles.

Moving swiftly on, I want to get back into this and get my writing back in order. TDWC is back under the knife to be picked apart and improved upon to make it less of a “two guys dicking around and saving the day” deal and more true to the intended description of an action-packed tongue-in cheek play on the genre of two or more attractive lead characters fighting non-human forces whilst dashing around being sexy and charming (Doctor Who, Supernatural, Torchwood and such). I hope to mix together a strong story line and genuine characters for those looking for more shows in the same vein as Supernatural to gorge on but with a playful near-parody twist to it to poke fun at this notion that all heroes are at the centre of the universe they reside in and are endlessly endearing to us as they make the hero business into a catwalk for bow-ties, tight skirts and trench coats. I shan’t give away too much at this point but I hope that it will live up to the thoughts I have in mind.

So I imagine you want to know what shall be the subject of my return to ranting don’t you? The title doesn’t give you much to go on, other than perhaps a reference to fishing or bug-catching but I was in fact referring to the phrase ‘You will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’. Positive reinforcement ladies and gentlemen, is the process of teaching someone to do something you want them to do by rewarding them for it, as opposed to punishing them when they do not. First of all, this rant will mostly be for the British audience (provided they audience abroad even exists anymore, which I very much doubt but at one time I was well known in at least three continents so…) but Americans may also find this speaks to them though do please note I’ll be largely referring to Britain in this rant. Now as mentioned earlier, I’ve been told I’m a naughty lazy child by the folks at the job centre and that they’re stopping my pocket money because I missed a careers day event due to illness. I waddled out of the house to get my book signed to officially declare I hadn’t spent my time scratching my balls all day and that my JSA payments weren’t being spent on ivory ball scratchers but I felt sick and quickly got home to bed afterward, forgetting the career day event that was to take place after my meeting in my dreary hypersensitive state of stomach pains and depression. Granted, I could have just sat there and tried to soak in the information but when your head is full of amplified background noises and a sad inner monologue about the pointless nature of your existence, you don’t do much information soaking and so I went to bed. However, this led to me being told I’m no longer allowed the money and that should my appeal fall through, I’m not allowed to claim JSA anymore and this got me thinking about the sad yet true system that the British Government uses to run the country, the power of punishment to create dependency. I shall now explain my point.

I failed to attend a meeting out of sickness and this was reported to the decision maker who made the decision that I was clearly not job-seeking and thus don’t deserve the payment. I re-read the rules afterwards and noticed that there are a lot of ways to get some ass who’s never even met you to tell you you’re a lazy sponge. In essence, if you do not attend every single meeting you are directed to (without being able to say “Oh no, I can’t make that” because then the response is “Oh well oh no then, you can’t get paid”) and apply for seven jobs a week, you’re told via a slip of paper to go fuck yourself. I thought that this seemed fair enough at first but the job market is slim pickings for people of my age gap and in the area in which I live, most people want qualified nurses and teachers (You know, those two professions that the government fucked in the ass until most of them started moving abroad about two years ago?). The jobs that are available to job seekers require you to have paid for specialised training years before you became jobless, including apparently needing to qualify for a Door Security Badge to stand outside a building with a clipboard. I’m sorry, but how hard is it to teach somebody to open the door for guys on the list and otherwise leave it closed?

I’m straying from my point though and that is that our current system is one based around punishment, around bullying those who are vulnerable for not being untouchable like the upper middle class we all aspire for. The lower class is demonised as a legion of unintelligent money-swiping mole men that feed on scraps but let me put forward this idea – if the vast majority of people living under your control are criminals and scroungers then that is a reflection of your ability as a ruler, not the people. You want less people to ask you for hand outs? Up the national minimum wage to keep pace with the rising costs of daily life or lower those said costs for people earning below a certain amount. You have the Bedroom Tax as well, a penalty incurred by living in a household that has more bedrooms available than people living within the household (i.e. a lone old woman living in a three bedroom house would be expected to pay extra for the two unused bedrooms, even if she used those rooms as say a study and a storage room). I agree, we have a problem with housing in this country and some people do live in houses that are much too big for them whilst families of seven or such are crammed into flats until limbs stick out the windows but this scheme doesn’t help the situation at all because the kind of people affected are the following:

– Old couples that live alone together because the kids moved out
– Disabled people who convert a room downstairs into a bedroom because they cannot face going upstairs and so the unused bedroom upstairs is still costing them due to this tax
– People who would downsize but can’t afford it or don’t know how

I mean, in all fairness, are MPs really allowed to point fingers in having stuff they don’t need at the cost of the people? At least these big houses are for people, not ducks. However, if you insist on bullying people for having houses that are too big for them then maybe implement a government relocation scheme to help the disabled and the elderly move house to something more suitable, offer to pay for the cost of moving and help them to sell their old house? You’d be selling the new houses you insist on building everywhere, regaining the big empty houses and less people would be paying a pointless tax! For the record, speaking of ridiculously large houses, does the Queen pay bedroom tax? Like, I’m sure Buckingham Palace could serve a lot of other useful purposes than the gilded cage for a bunch of old people? Sadly, the British government is too in love with using fear to control the nation, the fear of taking away their crutch and beating them with it.

You might interject that the benefits the people are granted are generous right? I mean, on JSA, if you’ve been claiming for six months, your employer gets a cash gift of almost £3000 for taking you in so that’s a big incentive for them to hire you and get you off benefits right? Well sure, he might HIRE you, but once he gets that payment you’re off again and it is entirely legal and that cash gift is the government’s way of telling you to politely fuck off. Similarly, you can get a bonus in your benefits if you report a benefit thief but this isn’t swapping the stick for a carrot, this is you telling the guy with the stick to bully someone else for a bit because they’re a worse kind of vermin than you are and do you get a carrot? No, not really, just five minutes of peace from your beatings. Depression is rife in Britain and I get so angry at people of the middle class judging me. Teachers and doctors tell me that I have no reason to be so depressed living in a town as lovely as Shrewsbury. Yeah, Shrewsbury is lovely, assuming you can afford theatre tickets and the booking fee for a river cruise because otherwise your night life in Shrewsbury is a variety of shit-pen fast food stores and more pubs than you could ever possibly hope to crawl around in a week. Fun times in Shrewsbury require you to be either rich or drunk, and that is the social life of Britain, one of spending money you don’t have to do things you wouldn’t enjoy doing sober to escape the reality that Britain is a slowly dying cripple at the top of the globe.

You know in Sweden you get paid by the government for being eco-friendly right? Literally, you receive cash gifts for recycling on a regular basis. In Britain, if you don’t recycle enough, you could face a fine and if you organise your recycling boxes incorrectly, your local bin men throw a fucking tantrum and send you passive aggressive notes in the post. I’m sorry, we couldn’t collect your recycling because you put paper in the glass box. I’m sorry, we couldn’t empty your garden waste bin because we found that someone had put an old packet of crisps in there by mistake. I’m sorry, you didn’t leave any milk and cookies with your wheelie bin so we’re not talking to you anymore! I heard that once upon a time, the bin men just came and collected your bin from the garden and did the rest themselves, now if they find a tin amongst glass jars, they shit themselves and scatter like pigeons. In a country that is ruled by punishing people, people break down and they turn to desperate and dishonest measures, much in the same way that a child who is given no positive reinforcement in development turns out to be a horribly dysfunctional liar. You get smacked in the face for speaking too much, not enough, telling lies, telling the truth, eating too much, eating too little so eventually you just say fuck it, I’ll do whatever because I already know I’m going to get hell for it and this is the psyche of rioters and such. The people steal and cheat their governments because they know they’ve been judged as thieves and liars but they also know they are cheated and stolen from so they just claw for what they can get.

I hope you’re still reading on because I’ve got more to say just yet. I was talking with my Dad recently about Milgram and his study of obedience, you know the one? Basically, Milgram managed to convince a bunch of random men to electrocute an old man into having a heart-attack (At least, so they thought) simply because he was a figure of authority to these men and so they complied. The psychology to this is what led the Nazis to commit such unspeakable crimes, it was simply the “just following orders” justification that allows us to be malevolent beings if instructed to by someone we respect as our superior. Of course, this study was conducted during the McCarthy era so it was a time of doing as you’re told, when you’re told so I wonder if this still rings true in modern society, where we are subjected to suffering at the hands of authority and many of us are against big organisations picking on us. The government, the police, the banks – we trusted them once upon a time but we’re starting to see them more as bullies than as guardians so perhaps we would be less inclined to do as we’re told. I can imagine Milgram encountering chavs only to have them tell him to do various unseemly things to himself. I’m of two minds because on the one hand I think that we’re less inclined to obey because we know now that our superiors are as human as we are, they’re not the crème de la crème of society but simply those of power and influence. However, maybe we are more obedient because we lack the will to fight, the will to stand up and tell these bastards that the people should be represented by those that once stood alongside them, not privately educated tosspots that have less in common with the average bloke than a tea towel does with a tiger. The people that fight and resist, speaking of anarchy and freedom, are labelled as crazed terrorists and are quickly swept under the rug and we feel that if we try to speak out, we’ll be called crazy too. In truth, what divides us from sheep is that we have the internet, and shaving us naked will not eventually lead to a nice jumper in time for Christmas.