Dear Father Christmas
I know I’ve not been a very good boy this year, and I’m really sorry about being driven by near-starvation to steal those essential food items from TESCO. Still, I hope you can find it in your big, red, bearded heart to forgive me and grant me my christmas list, as follows:
1. A roof and four walls in which we can sleep safely;
2. Work that pays the bills and doesn’t make mum and dad too ill;
3. Food to eat so we don’t starve;
4. A fit-for-purpose fire service so we don’t die;
5. A health service, so when we get ill we can usually get better;
6. Benefits, in case 2 doesn’t happen;
7. Massively reduced carbon emissions;
8. Somewhere for old people to go – they don’t seem to like the streets much, despite the global warming;
9. A great big boat, in case 7 doesn’t happen;
10. Star Wars: the Force Awakens special edition on super 3D interactive immersive holo-cube – gotta love the classics!
Sorry, I know it’s a lot to ask. If it comes to it, I’ll probably settle for 10.
Yours sincerely and Merry Christmas,
Most children in the UK
24th December 2025.
P.S. surely Donald Trump’s second term should be up about now? If not, could you maybe do something about that too please? I’m not much into sequels, and from what (despite the shortcomings of our collapsing education system and the closure of all the public libraries) I’ve gleaned from history, this whole ‘World War’ thing was wearing thin in 1940, and even JJ Abrams couldn’t save the franchise now…
I specifically planned not to write anything overtly ‘political’ on here, firstly because there are enough places you can read about whatever your favourite flavour of politics is, and secondly because politics is generally drier than a nun’s sex life… and less than half as fun to write about.
But then I went and did a silly thing and spent 2011 continuing to live in England, working for the public sector. For this I am very sorry and take full responsibility. Clearly what I should have done is got a job in the private sector – there are loads of them about, and they’re all really great you know. Call Centres, for example, are a particularly good use of precious time: a day in which I don’t phone up at least one seventeen-year-old college girl, sweet-talk her into trusting me through a careful mix of well-aimed vocal flirting and slick sales tricks, then con her into buying cancer insurance, is a day wasted.
Alas, I only work for a Local Authority, an Authority that wastes tax payers’ hard earned money on paying me to do the admittedly unimportant job of bringing in lots of revenue… revenue which is in turn wasted on helping ‘benefit scum’ (single parents, disabled people, elderly people, the terminally ill) keep some semblance of a roof over their lazy, commie, terrorist heads. They make me sick, waving their grubby little twenty-page claim forms, waiting for weeks for their first payment under the constant threat of eviction, shuffling around in ugly poverty. Shame on them for being born poor! And shame on me for helping them! Sometimes I’d like to take me outside and shoot me in front of my entire family. I make me sick…
So, when those smart government people decided it was a good idea to cut public sector pensions, cut everyone’s benefit and generally make everything rubbish for anyone too stupid to have been schooled in Eton and raised in a castle, I of course understood their reasoning. There’s a big hole in the nation’s accounts made by a ‘wunch’ of well-meaning bankers, and so it’s clearly the responsibility of us wage-slave plebs (our parents aren’t even royal for God’s sake!) to fill the cash-void with money we would only have wasted on things like housing, clothes, food, kids, education, prescriptions, heat, water…
But by this time I had worked there too long; I was already half way over to the dark side. Motivated by a mixture of selfish greed and a complete disregard for proper neo-liberal values, I tore my laminated Thatcher-in-a-bikini pin-up from my bedroom ceiling, yelled “DEATH TO THE WEST!” at the top of my drug filled lungs, and joined the nearest union.
“Let’s go on strike just for the hell of it!” said the union. So we did.
Thousands of us marched through Brighton, waving flags and cheering, throwing bricks through grocery store windows, kicking old ladies and punching kittens. Like the ‘we are the 99%’ lot in London, our goals were clear: “Death to the Queen!” we chanted. “Resurrect Stalin! Murder the rich and harvest their wine-pickled internal organs to trade on the Black Market for crack and child-porn! More terrorism now! Cancel Downton Abbey! Nuke Israel!”
* * *
Obviously that was all lies. Well, most of it. The truth is, I went on a real strike with my real union (Unison), thousands of people turned up, and we pretty much blocked off Brighton’s main roads for several hours in a protest over pensions. As anyone likely to read this is most probably aware, the stated reason for striking – the completely unnecessary and unfair cuts to pensions – was for most union members only the tip of the ‘issues iceberg’.
And I’ll admit that I was cautious about striking. And I argued with other union members and colleagues for weeks before deciding that striking was the right thing to do. And I still think that it was. And, under similar circumstances, I’d strike again. And it was all a great big success. And we all gave ourselves a big pat on the back because we’d made it into the national news. And people were supporting us. And we all said: “If we have to strike again in 2012, so be it… it’s crap to lose yet another day’s wages, especially with the cuts and stuff, but it’s all worthwhile!” And the union leaders urged solidarity, and we chanted “solidarity!” and waved our flags in unison…
Then, just a few days ago, the union leaders just sort of went:
“Uh, guys, we’re just gonna say ‘yes’ to the government, right? Because, uh, even though we basically used a load of rhetoric to fire you up and get you to miss out on money and stuff, right… remember that? It was fun wasn’t it? Did it make you feel sort of important, like you could achieve something? Aww, bless you, you’re all so cute!”
“Go on…”, we replied.
“Well, we… erm… we got the government to agree to do pretty much exactly what they wanted to do in the first place, right? Because, uh… um… because there’s this, like, deficit and stuff, yeah? And Ed Millibland is kind of our friend and stuff. Or something. And, like, blah, blah, blah, mumble, mumble…”, said the leadership.
“[incoherent angry shouting!]”, we replied.
“But, er, well done on the strike and stuff,” the leadership continued. “It was good, wasn’t it? We’re all really proud of you here at Unison head office, I can tell you! Give yourselves an official pat on the back from us. We’re still just going to sell out all your efforts though. Hope you don’t mind? Remember: we’re all in this together comrades! Solidarity!”
You get the idea.
[COMING SOON: ALBUM REVIEWS, CONCERT REVIEWS, COMEDY REVIEWS, PICTURES, AND OTHER STUFF YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT!]
Living on the seafront has its ups and its downs.
In the summer, when the sun is shining and the beaches are littered with the half-naked bodies of docile, ultra-violet sponging homo-sapiens – a pinkturningtored orgy of roasting, vanilla-tongued, beer-bellied, Ra worship – then living by the sea is pretty nice. On a sunny summer Saturday you are likely to find me propped up on one elbow on the pebble beach, reading a book between token swims, sipping cold beer from a can and maybe eating blackened barbecue remnants. Yum.
But even the height of summer has its downside. I can put up with the crowds, with the occasional groups of drunken morons on a day out from Croydon (or wherever), and with the sudden changes of the English weather. All that is fine. The problem is that whenever I look out of the windows of my tiny flat (the inevitable trade-off for living here) I see yachts – gigantic ultra-modern, slick, pure-white, unobtainable, dick-extending yachts – gliding by. The men (and the little dots piloting these yachts are all men) can be seen sipping champagne as they pull in too close, motoring their massive plastic phallic dreams to an area of sea as shallow as their ambitions, coming near enough to the beach to endanger the lives of vulnerable swimmers.
They do this, of course, to attract the attention of the almost limitless supply of attractive twenty-something girls invariably found sprawled across the hot stones in various immodest states of undress. And do these men get the attention they clearly desire? I don’t know – but if they don’t it doesn’t stop them trying. Am I jealous? Of course! – although this year I got some disapproving looks (and some approving laughs) from fellow beach-floppers when one sunny lunchtime I decided to hurl insults at a yacht that had come way too close, safe in the knowledge that I could run away faster than the bastards could swim. They probably didn’t hear me though, so wrapped up were they in their own private little world.
In the winter, things change. Where the beach was writhing with lazy life it is now barren but for gulls, crows and whatever crap the sea has thrown up. The late evening beach fires of the summer are snuffed out and the crowds are ten-times decimated. There is no sun to worship – besides, X Factor is back on. In many ways I prefer this time of year. I can walk along the promenade without tripping over kids or being insulted – perhaps threatened – by two generations of drunk elders, which is nice. Best of all, the yachts I hate so much are hibernating beneath tarpaulin, stacked on racks or snoozing in some opulent marina, tethered to abandoned quays.
But in winter my tiny flat is far from cosy. The building we are in is listed, meaning there is no double glazing. Instead, the Landlord has ‘fitted’ secondary glazing, a sort of inner window. Where the building is so old (and clearly built before man invented straight lines) these square, modern windows simply do not fit in the hole. There are gaps all around which the wind makes the most of, squirting in at twice the speed it probably otherwise would, its howling amplified unbearably. And it gets very windy here.
Sometimes I sit on the window ledge with a cup of tea, watching storms as they chase across the sea, night skies crackling with lightning, the tiny lights of ships holding on tenaciously to tumultuous horizons. Sometimes the storms blow by without touching the land; sometimes the storms blow in from the sea, hitting my windows head on, the gale propelled rain, unhindered by buildings or civilisation, smashing itself like a million harikaris against the glass.
I lay awake listening to this – the rain beating on the window, the wind howling, the sound of the waves crashing loudly against the beach, the almost visceral sucking sound of the sea pulling its army back across the stones, regrouping for another attack. In this liminal, half-dreaming state it is almost impossible not to think of the tsunamis we’ve all seen on the news recently, and of the floods in Queensland, Rio, Thailand and elsewhere. Although the chance of that happening here is slimmer than slim, perhaps this optimism is unfounded. Perhaps the next wave I hear won’t stop at the beach. What would happen to me if a tsunami wave hit my windows; would they cave in and fill the flat with water? Would the whole edifice crumble, listed or not? Could I do anything to save myself, or would I be washed away, as powerless against the waves as the rest of the beach debris?
It’s a fact that the sea level is rising; just as the sea between here and Europe was once land, this land will one day be sea.
Climate change is not the only man-made issue I can’t help but worry about as I lay, not quite awake, listening to the storm. There’s that other storm, the one made of incomprehensible treaties and unfathomable debt, blowing across the channel from France and Germany, from Greece and Italy; a storm that genuinely threatens to engulf our livelihoods, our prosperity, our ambitions and even our democracy. And I mean ‘our’ in it’s most cosmopolitan sense, not in the sense most news seems to be reporting this in – as though the economic crisis in Europe and the rest of the world is an issue simply of foreign policy that may have some adverse effects for us Brits. No, this is a storm we (or at least our politicians and big businesses) had a hand in creating, and which now threatens to submerge Britannia – along with the rest of the West – beneath the waves she still believes she rules.
My only consolation is that when it all goes nipples-up your poncey fucking yacht’s gonna sink too, ha ha!