Merry Christmas!

You see… you can’t fault this blog for being current, in touch with the world and having its finger on the pulse, although i daresay that there’s a few of you thinking that i’ve finally fruit-looped and that i’m well overdue for booking an extended stay at the funny farm.

Titter ye not, though – i’m deadly serious: Christmas is finally upon us and, if you haven’t started your festive shopping yet, then it really is about time you got your act together if you want to avoid the rush! Still not convinced? Then let me explain… They’ve moved my favourite biscuits in M&S – OK, to be fair, it’s not just my favourite bikkies that have moved (Rhubarb Crumble cookies – nommy!), but half the store has been re-arranged, and i’m not the only one to have been left wandering round with that confused and dazed look normally reserved for those who blindly follow satnav directions around the lanes of Cornwall. One poor old dear was completely flummoxed and apprehended a member of staff in the middle of the freezer department (ouch!). “Ah”, he said, “we’re making room for the Christmas turkeys when they come in” – so, there you have it, so obvious!

As i continued down the high street, it began to dawn on me that Christmas has quite definitely arrived – somehow sneaking in by way of the back door when i wasn’t looking – from the acres of snow scenes and sleighs displayed in every greetings card shop, to the santa hats and stockings jostling for space with the Halloween masks in the pound shop… even the charity shops have got in on the act: the woman behind the counter in the Cancer Research shop; “We’ll be getting our Christmas stock sometime in the next three weeks”.

It is, of course, all profoundly nonsensical!

Despite its faults, there is much about sl to commend, particularly when the virtual world diverts us from the real world sufficiently far enough to develop a positive slant on the mundanity of the world around us. Usually the results are fun, slightly mad and occasionally mind-boggling but there are times when sl is able to restore a degree of normality and common-sense that seems, at times, to be noticeably lacking in the real world. Take Christmas, for example…

The idea that Christmas in any form should commence sometime in September is frankly appalling, (as is the notion that Easter begins the day after Boxing Day, along with the DFS Sale). Thank goodness then for sl, where Christmas, along with pretty much every festivity that we can find an excuse to celebrate, has its own clearly-defined, and sensibly short-lived slot.

It’s one of the blessings of sl that overt commercialisation has never been permitted to rear its ugly head in the way that it’s done so in the real world. We’re not subjected to seasonal hype and blanket brainwashing for months on end with the sole aim of encouraging us to mortgage our souls simply to bring a happy smile to the faces of our loved ones on one morning of the year. That’s not to say that sl is immune from commercialism, but it tends to be of a gentler, less in-your-face style than that which we’re used to outside the virtual world, and i for one, am grateful.

That’s not to say that sl has got it entirely right – anyone who’s tried to search for a key word on the Marketplace will attest to that, but inworld, even the most annoying and irritating marketing ploy is so much tamer and less intrusive than most sales campaigns in the real world – in fact, on a subconscious level, commercialism in sl can awaken memories in us of a time when personal service, customer care and family businesses were pretty much the watchwords of any real world business.

Next time you feel like swatting a friendly fairy greeter, or glare at a welcoming toast as you arrive at a new store, just stop and think for a moment… When was the last time you walked into a real world shop and were given a friendly welcome, recognised by name and given a personal invitation to browse the instore offers? Coming to think of it, how many real life stores do you know where you can often bump into the owner, who’ll then spend time talking with you? Or when was the last time you made an enquiry about a product or had a problem and got a personal response from the CEO? SL ain’t so bad after all!

Oh, before i forget, Happy Fourth of July!

s. x

Christmas time is here, by golly,
Disapproval would be folly,
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don’t say “when.”
Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,
Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens,
Even though the prospect sickens,
Brother, here we go again.
Tom Lehrer – A Christmas Carol

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