I was reading the ‘Grumpy Old Women’ official handbook by Judith Holder on Christmas Day (thanks to my partner in crime, Jules, for this thoughtful gift) and, I must say, I can relate to its contents. However, although I’m awfully fond of my condiments and voucher codes, the middle-aged spread is a way off yet and I’m certainly not menopausal. Thank god for small mercies.
I found the section about Christmas especially amusing – in that women (I hesitate to use the word “housewives”) are expected to produce a ‘perfect day’ with Chrissy dinner served in its Delia-like splendour. And that turkey and cranberry is just a posh version of chicken and jam but everyone fusses over it for weeks on end (before burning it on the day, as they’ve consumed too much sherry). And then Christmas Day is over much quicker than it came and we’re expected to push our way through the Next sale on Boxing Day (yes, I admit to engaging in this activity) to bag a few bargains we convince ourselves we require. Actually, I was rather impressed with my sale purchases but I could probably have lived without ‘em. But we must help the recession, you know.
But now that the baubles and chains of Christmas are nearing the end of their commission and recession-busting consumers are raiding the January sales with enthusiasm, it’s time for the UK media to start dishing out its latest dose of doom to make us put our purses back in our pockets again. According to various commentators on 'The Guardian' online, UK house prices are set to fall in 2010 – possibly by up to 15% - and we may be heading for the dreaded Double Dip recession. Additional tidings of good cheer include predictions that consumers will stop spending as interest rates rise and Sterling will take another battering against other currencies, such as the Euro, during 2010 because there’s currently no proper plan for tackling the public sector debt. This, of course, is unwelcome news for expats who earn their dinero in the UK but live in Spain.
Well, 2010 is clearly shaping up nicely. I can’t wait! You can always rely on the UK media to publish some pole-axing negativity - whether it’s the 2009 obsession with Pork Flu (I haven’t personally witnessed anybody with this affliction in either the north or south of England) or the Double Dip Dooms. Nobody really knows what will happen with the damn UK downturn so why bother printing material that depresses us when we are feeling fat / fragile / faint / fun-deprived (delete as appropriate) after the festive season? Personally speaking, I have no intention of spending the deep midwinter wallowing in doom and wondering if houses in the south of England will ever cost £70k again.
It’s unsurprising that we Brits can maintain such a chilly (frigid) state of mind when you consider the recent UK weather. While Malaga has been basking in temperatures of around 20C (OK, so there have been major floods and landslides in Andalucia), Blighty is anticipating another Big Freeze. No doubt the gritters will fail to keep the transport network moving and everything will grind to a halt again. Perhaps there isn’t enough salt stashed away, because it is so hard to source? Yours truly is already concerned about a domestic flight booked for 6am on New Year’s Eve: if the Frozen North of England is truly frozen, the plane will never leave the tarmac. However, being stuck in the grandparental home for NYE, where consuming more than two glasses of vino is frowned upon, couldn’t be as bad as the fate that befell a friend who knocked out his teeth on an icy pavement just before Christmas (“all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth" – hah hah). I can’t help wondering if some of the people with broken limbs and missing teeth attending the country’s A&E departments selected their usual slippery-soled shoes for a foray on to the skating rink (aka the pavement). Perhaps I’m being overly scathing here: they wore their finest Wellington boots but fell over anyway because walking far on ice is almost as tricky as ‘Dancing on Ice’.
Speaking of which, there’s no business like snow business... or show business... and on the showbiz front, I was amused to see that anarchic LA rock band, Rage Against the Machine, knocked Simon Cowell’s squeaky-clean X-Factor prodigy, Joe McElderry, off the Christmas number one slot after 500,000 Facebook and Twitter users downloaded the expletive-laden rock tune, ‘Killing in the Name’. That’s not a very festive theme, is it? It has a healthy dose of irony and was considered awful by my Mum, who likes sickly ballads from 18 year olds and thinks they should, indeed, reach pole position. Enough said!
Undoubtedly, the social media ‘beat the system’ achievement of the Christmas number one campaign highlights the power of Facebook these days. As well as obsessing some of my mates to the point where they interact with it (for want of a better word) for 8-10 hours daily, Facebook is being cited in one of five UK divorce cases. This backs up what I said in my last entry: that social media is becoming anti-social. Just to recap, most people don’t really want hubby/wifey or boyfriend/girlfriend furtively chatting up hot chicks/guys from their friend list or trying to bag a ‘fresh one’ for the New Year. One of my female friends recently experienced a colleague declaring his undying love publicly on Facebook when full of Christmas beer. This isn’t terribly stylish. And it probably upset his ex trouble and strife as well.
Where will it all end, I wonder? Instead of going out to see friends in person – and to visit pubs, eateries and nightclubs for fun - the Double Dipped Brits will stay at home having cyber-relationships and saving a few quid on drinks, while avoiding the icy pavements and the risk of broken ankles and teeth. Perhaps we can attend ‘silent discos’ and speed dating events online and have special cyber-sex suits so we never need leave the house to interact with potential partners. It's probably already happening somehow, somewhere... we’ll all be doing it by 2011, mark my words.