There are many things which I love about my homeland at this time of year. I love bright crisp mornings. I love the stunning colours which autumn and early winter brings to the Northumberland countryside. I love snuggling up by the log fire and watching old black and white films. I even love the wild cold easterly winds which whip the sea into a cauldron of fury building to a crescendo of percussive crashing waves against the dunes. I still get a secret thrill when writing my Christmas shopping list and planning all the lovely recipes that I’ll attempt this year. In my head I’ll be as calm as Nigella, blissfully whipping up amazing treats (in reality the kitchen will look like a bomb site and the dogs will be cowering in their beds after been yelled at to “FUCK OFF OUT OF THE KITCHEN YOU LITTLE TWATS”). MY attempts at arts and crafts will result in the living room carpet looking like a three year has run amok with a glue gun and glitter and of course I’ll not post any card until the very last posting date.
For the last three years I’ve returned home from Antigua straight in the heart of the consumer frenzy which is a UK Christmas. I am never prepared for the shear tooth curling cringe inducing madness which seems to take hold of people at this time of year. Being flown from paradise on a warm Saturday evening and landing into a dismal stale piss smelling Gatwick at stupid o clock on an early Sunday morning is never going to be my favourite day of the year. Add to this the hysterical advertising screens all screaming “Buy our shit, buy our shit, because buying this piece of shit for your friends and relatives means you love them because you spent half your yearly salary on buying this piece of shit”. Into this mix throw a three hour train journey up north accompanied by refugees from the west coast mainline which was closed due to the epic floods, so the usually crowded Edinburgh service was filled to bursting. Some of these fellow travellers had the table manners of rabid warthogs and slapped their lips and gums around a truckload of stinking food. What dregs of humanity I had left gradually ebbed away and as we left the train and walked past the offenders I actually heard myself say, out loud, “I hope they get fucking mugged in Edinburgh”. After this was the taxi drive from station to home which just about finished me off; we pulled up to a traffic light and in a shop doorway was a huge semi-solid human shit. Welcome home Trish.
Christmas in Antigua, well certainly amongst the people I know there, is not all about how much you can spend, it’s about being with family and/or friends, sprucing up the house with bright colours, maybe get some new curtains and cushions and FOOD! Lots and lots of food. My friend Kenya’s face comes alive just at the mention of the Christmas feast. He once spent nearly half an hour describing how full his belly will be and the secret to eating his body weight is to not drink any juice during the gorging. I cannot wait until I get to experience a Caribbean Christmas.
In the meantime I’m stuck in the consumer feeding frenzy. I by-passed/chickened out of going into Newcastle for two days by ordering a lot of stuff online but yesterday I had to admit defeat and head into town for those little things that I could try and make, but honestly, by the time I’d burned the chocolate and wrecked a pan attempting to make a sugar syrup it would be easier and less stressful to just get on a bus, join the crowds and go grab a load of three for two offers.
Famous last words of course! It’s never that simple.
I admit I may not have been in the best shape emotionally or psychologically. Earlier that morning I’d splodged through ankle deep mud with the dogs. The dogs who had been collected from the boarding kennels, pampered, bathed, cuddled, fed and brushed and who promptly rolled in fox shit the minute my back was turned when slurping through a flooded hedgerow. Both disgusting stinking beasts were dumped in the river and dragged home on the doggy walk of shame on tight leashes. The instant I stepped off the bus in Newcastle I knew it was going to be a drama. It was two in the afternoon and already the bus station had pissed morons vomming up in a corner. Deep joy. Then there’s the ordeal by old biddies with shopping trolleys in Marks and Spencer. If a scientist ever wants to observe random object movement, just watch these old twats with their trolleys/weapons. Those shrivelled old sods are lethal; they have no logic behind where they’re going to go next, they are purely random creatures of evil ankle crushing intent. After being unimpressed by anything in any shop whatsoever I sat down for a few minutes to try and muster some enthusiasm. I knew it wasn’t going well when the dulcet tones of the school children singing carols in Eldon Square didn’t fill me with Christmas joy; I just wanted to shout “FUCK OFF YOU ANNOYING SMALL PEOPLE YOURE NOT CUTE” Yeh, not my finest internal dialogue! The miserable faces of other shoppers didn’t lift my mood either. I’m not used to this disengaged way of shopping. Everyone walking around in their own little bubble, walking fast, with purpose no deviation from the plan, got to buy, got to buy, need to go this way NOW and screw you if you’re in my path. I was still in Antiguan mode and I love that in Antigua a conversation can start anywhere with anyone for no reason, just the fact you’re in the same place at the same time is enough reason to talk to someone. Any trip out for shopping can take HOURS because no-one’s in a hurry and I love love that. Newcastle? Not a fucking chance!
I did eventually find a few things which weren’t A) Over priced crap B) Cheesy bollocks which only sells at Christmas because everyone’s desperate to shift the crap they can’t sell any other time of year so they stick glitter and a bell on it.
And talking about crap which only sells at Christmas, do people really buy special bedding just for this time of year? Are your visitors going to storm out in a fit of pique because their pillows don’t have little holly leaves embroidered on them? If your friends and relatives are those sorts of people, fuck ‘em. They’re morons.
I knew it was time to get out of Dodge when I walked past a tragic beardy hipster in overly tight budgied trousers and all I wanted to do was cut that twattily pretentious mess right off his face.
Yeh, I know, that was a message from the universe to go home. It’s not worth doing time for that.