‘I think it gets earlier every year,’ says Mandy Batchelor, a 22-year old physicist from Cheshire. ‘I remember when you used to get the odd massacre in the week before the holidays, and that would escalate into the New Year, but now there are countries launching retaliatory airstrikes in September. And I’m sure the arms sales start earlier every year. It’s crazy.’
The switching off of the lights, and the cowering in bunkers, which normally takes place at this time of year is expected to reach unprecedented levels thanks to the global economic meltdown and a general rise in human unpleasantness.
For some, the idea of nations escalating violence towards other countries, or their own people, during the festive season is under threat as more non-Christian countries adopt the tradition.
Professional wine taster Linda Sachet is amongst those who see a darker side to the Christmas season. She says, ‘I usually only manage about 30 seconds of the news before the sheer unrelenting misery of it all makes me switch over to “Fred Claus” on Channel 5; that’s how bad things have become. No-one should have to make those sort of choices at Christmas.’
Stanley Goodwin, a retired toe specialist from Buxton, adds: ‘I don’t think other countries get Christmas the way we do. I mean, I remember when having a war at Christmas meant leaving off the mustard gas for twenty minutes to have a quick kick-about in no-man’s land. Now, it’s non-stop. It’s too commercialised these days, the arms dealers are ruining it.’
However, some people feel that Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a dash of global genocide.
Self-confessed estate agent Ali Bishop says, ‘Even if I’ve got the tree up, opened a Panettone and bought the Radio Times, for me it never really feels like Christmas until some country’s begun shelling its neighbours.’
Meanwhile, Buckingham Palace admits the Queen, who is preparing her annual Christmas address to the nation, is struggling to come up with something that isn’t a ‘complete downer’.
‘Conflicts and civil unrest in North Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, take your pick,’ says a Palace source. ‘It’s a struggle to fit them all in. She’s pretty much decided to leave all the miserable stuff to the Pope and just cheer everyone up by recounting how she got to meet Daniel Craig and jump out of a plane.’
with a nod to Dick Everyman