Christmas was lovely.
I had it on Christmas Eve when my son , his wife and their daughter came to see me. We spoiled each other and shouted with laughter and had a wonderful time with surprises, real surprises. I bought my granddaughter her first book , a picture book by a Japanese artist in which five flowers fold down into five animals, laminated, deliciously coloured. Just the job. And the couple I call the kids were more excited to have bought me a wine I have only drunk twice and never owned a bottle of, than anything else.
So now we arrive at crossover time, the few days in between the allegedly Christian festival and the pagan one of New Year. These are the days you fill with buying things you never thought you’d rush out to buy (like laundry fluid) or sale shopping. How revealing that the independent Office for Budget Responsibility published a report warning that the recovery is the thickness of tissue paper and unsecured personal debt will be the undoing of many of us. That was on Tuesday 22 December while on Saturday 26 December, money was being spent as if it was going out of style and very few people did what one young man did and saved for the splurge. Most of them flashed the card in a bad attack of Scarlett O’Hara-itis, ie “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”
So while we’re on the subject of what you want and what you don’t want in the immediate future ie the next twelve months, here’s what I really don’t want:
I don’t want this Government to slip through legislation which directs local councils in what they may or may not invest in – more to the point it will tell them what they must invest in, thus denting the idea of democracy (always a relative term) still further. A bunch of committees in London cannot run affairs for 70 million vastly different people across the UK. Worse still, this unprecedented curb may be pushed through Parliament without proper consultation. That isn’t Tories for Britain, that’s Tories for Tories, ruthless self-interest. (see Page 4, the Independent on Sunday and the writer is Donald MacIntyre.)
I don’t want – thought mostly I shall be too late – to have George Osborne thinking he’s going to get some kind of award for being the Chancellor with the Highest Level of Privatisation. Mr.Osborne’s sympathisers feel he’s doing a grand job of making banking pay for itself, and that may be true but selling off concerns like the Post Office (at what is generally agreed as a loss) and the Land Registry raises question about his plans other than amassing some money and never mind whence it comes.
I don’t want to hear about men – or women – in space when we need money spent on anticipating the possible effects of changes to our weather systems in this world, so that if we don’t need to activate emergency plans, that’s fine, they can wait – but if we need them, the resources are there. We can’t carry on hoping everything will be all right. This sweaty winter has shown we won’t.
And I don’t want to see White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen ever again. It wasn’t a good movie when it was made and the years have not been kind to it. It’s been on a loop, played about six times in the last two weeks and I want it mothballed.
And here’s what I really do want. I want less non ticket paying children taking up seats on buses while others stand. What happened to sitting on your mother’s knee? Or being a big person and offering your seat?
I want people to understand that appreciation is vital.
Going back into a shop 24 hours later to express satisfaction took three minutes and it was win win win. I was pleased, the assistant was pleased, the manager was pleased and other customers were pleased to hear our pleasure. Saying please and thank you is going out of style. It seems a lot of people think that makes you look weak. I was taught “if you don’t put in, you can’t take out” and it’s got me this far.
I want us to understand that in a materialistic society, all those things aren’t worth a damn if you don’t have some kind of interior life, some interest in art or science, people or ideas. I want us to understand that our world is cruel as it ever was, sometimes in the same ways, sometimes in awful new ones and start looking at how we can contribute to its betterment, you in your small corner, I in mine.
And every good wish for 2016.