Monthly Archives: November 2012

Bauble Attrition

Caught in the act: one cat, attempting to stockpile Christmas tree baubles for personal, nefarious use. The war of bauble attrition has begun, and I do not expect to win.


The First Day of Christmas

Apparently, America has set an official date for the advent of the Christmas season and made sure to inform all relevant parties, including the weather. I woke up this morning to find my dear husband trundling back and forth carrying large boxes and trailing tinsel, while snowflakes flurried from his beard and festive songs blared from the television. Apparently, it is now Yule.

In England, we’re not really sure when Christmas begins. If you ask the supermarkets, they’ll tell you it’s somewhere around May, when there’s empty space on the shelves where the Easter eggs used to be. If you ask the tellybox advertisers, it’s approximately September, when the first twig of holly sneaks into an ad break. If you ask my family, it’s a vague date in mid-December when the panic shopping begins and someone remembers the tree. If you ask me, it’s about December 19, when I suddenly discover I have once again missed the last day of post and won’t be sending any cards. Again.

Consequently, I’ve always found it quite a challenge to get into the Christmas spirit. There’s a tipping point between ‘far too early’ and ‘too late to do things properly’, a single moment when it feels right to have festive feelings. The rest of the time, I’m not entirely sure if it’s Christmas or not – although I do suffer a vague knot of worry throughout December regarding wrapping paper.

In America, on the other hand, Christmas begins as Thanksgiving ends, making the latter holiday a handy indicator for the former. As soon as you’re done shovelling turkey into your mouth, it’s time to send someone out to the garage to fetch the tree and start checking Amazon for gift-giving bargains, while the snow begins to dutifully fall.

This is a regimen I wholeheartedly approve of: I can now schedule my season, confident in the knowledge I haven’t got it wrong. Although I will inevitably still fail to send out Christmas cards in time.

It also gives the cat a full month to steal all the baubles, a challenge she accepted less than a minute after the tree was finished.


Changing the Channel

Forgive the recent interruption in your regular scheduled program of nonsense; it can be blamed almost exclusively on the addition of proper television to our household. Where previously we survived on a diet of Netflix and Hulu, we are now the proud owners of 6 million pointless channels and 3 or 4 acceptable ones.

BBC America is, of course, my favourite treat. It’s a little lacking in its Russell Howard and a bit urgent in its Gordon Ramsay (and, inexplicably, Star Trek: The Next Generation), but it does keep the lads from Top Gear on my screen almost 24 hours a day.

I am also an avid fan of the ability to record almost every channel at once. This comes in handy when I can’t work out where in the channel list I’ve ended up and find myself stranded, flopping about like a helpless fish, somewhere between the pay-per-view porn and the mountain of movie channels all showing the same three films.

But what I mostly want to discuss with you people is your advertising. At first I was astonished by the pointy fingers, because in England one is not allowed to call one’s competition names in the pursuit of sales. “We’re better than [insert relevant brand]” is a definite no-no where I hail from, although I’m already sufficiently indoctrinated that I can no longer work out why.

Then I became fascinated by the content of the adverts themselves. My all-time favourite U.S. advertisement was for a Wendy’s fish fillet burger, featuring numerous helicopter shots of icebergs and glaciers, gleaming frostily in the Arctic sunshine. This did not suggest an irresistible taste experience to me; I was, rather, left wondering if fish fillets are cold and a bit crunchy.

I thought nothing could possibly top that advert for absurdity… until this week. It began innocently enough, with various shots of husbands staring lovingly at their wives as they displayed the tics and oddities with which the husbands fell in love in the first place. One wife is startled by a horror movie, for example, while the husband looks on fondly.

I believe the idea of the set-up was to advise us all to keep appreciating the little things about each other, even when many years have passed. A heart-warming sentiment, I think you’ll agree. But then the television began bellowing at me:

“AND THAT’S WHY YOU NEED TO BUY OUR ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION PILLS, SO YOU CAN KEEP APPRECIATING THE LITTLE THINGS.”

I was so surprised, both by the sudden change in direction and by Viagra being advertised on my tellybox – in the middle of the afternoon, to boot – that I burst into a giggling fit that ran unchecked for many minutes. I thought I had seen it all. I had not – but I’ve got 6 million channels now, so I’m sure I will have soon.