Thu. May 19th, 2022

The nation is facing a crisis. I am of course referring to the possibility that there will be no pigs in blankets to nibble on the morning of December 25th.

How unusual that Boris Johnson did not refer to it in his bravado knockabout performance (sorry, big conference speech) on Wednesday.

But what could he have said? It is not as if we had not been warned many weeks ago when we were first warned of the impending collapse of our freight transport system.

And yet, the great threat to Christmas has been highlighted by one politician after another as the equivalent of the outbreak of World War III.

Do not care that at least half of the nation would secretly raise a big cheer if they were told that they should never again shovel a dry piece of tasteless turkey breast into their mouths – and then pretend to enjoy it.

The nation is facing a crisis.  I am of course referring to the possibility that there will be no pigs in blankets to nibble on the morning of December 25 (stock photo)

The nation is facing a crisis. I am of course referring to the possibility that there will be no pigs in blankets to nibble on the morning of December 25 (stock photo)

Do not be with the poor souls who saddled having to do that poor thing!

I include myself in that category. And my father before me. The only meal he ever made when I was a kid was Christmas dinner. But the less said about it, the better.

‘So what?’, You say. It’s fucking Christmas! That’s what we do at Christmas. Whether we like it or not.

But the thing is … I suppose a lot of us do not.

I am well aware that I can be accused of at least being seen as an old misery and, at worst, as a Grinch: the green, hairy, potty cynic who loved nothing more than to steal Christmas from crying children.

But I’m not. I’m just tired of being bombarded with breathless bulletins telling us how the government is heroically fighting to ‘save’ our Christmas – even though it’s still months away.

And yet, Christmas is not just about children. It’s also about grandparents who don’t see their family often enough.

And not to forget, it is also about all the pious Christians who receive true spiritual nourishment by celebrating the birth of the man they see as their Savior.

How unusual that Boris Johnson (pictured) did not refer to it in his bravura knockabout performance - sorry, big conference speech - Wednesday

How unusual that Boris Johnson (pictured) did not refer to it in his bravura knockabout performance – sorry, big conference speech – Wednesday

Christmas must be – no, must be – a time to celebrate the best of humanity. Generosity. Self-sacrifice. Simple kindness to those we may not like very much.

That might sound a little too naive. After all, the world has moved on from Charles Dickens and Tiny Tim. And of course, Christmas is also the time of year when a large number of businesses earn the profits that help them survive the lean times.

So yes, Christmas means something on many different levels. But that does not excuse the way our leaders manipulate our stance on it as part of a collective brainwashing exercise.

It is at least condescending, deliberately misleading at worst. The threat of a turkey-free Christmas is used by our political masters to invoke the Dunkirk spirit.

Don’t worry, they tell the truth, we do our dumbest things to make sure you get your turkeys and pigs in blankets. Just do not press us too hard on how. Nor on small details like how we will sort out the terrible energy roots we have managed to get into.

Nor a word from Boris in his speech about it.

Nor on how everyone will be able to pay for it. Nary a nod to those who are seriously feeling the pinch and how they are going to be able to attend this big bacchanalic prayer party that awaits.

Consumption is of course good. That is what makes the wheels of a modern economy turn.

So it’s fine for supermarkets and toy manufacturers to encourage us to use, use and use again. That’s what the little ones expect, isn’t it?

Well, maybe. People in my generation may not be the best qualified to judge. What I remember about Christmas as a child in a poor household was that my mother and the neighbors would give a few cups a week to the corner store when they could afford it, so when Christmas came, there was enough in the pot for in it at least the essentials.

I was three years old when the family allowance was introduced. William Beveridge had wanted eight shillings a week to be paid to the mother of each child. It ended up being five shillings and only for the second child and onwards. But it made a difference.

Of course, we have all become richer since the dark days. Much richer. But there comes a big hug. Not so much for many older people. Pensions have been protected, and those lucky enough to have bought their own homes have reaped the benefits.

It is low-income families who feel trapped, especially those who have lost their £ 20 a week Universal Credit bonus. But they are not alone. The breathtaking, threatening rises in energy bills are already hitting home.

Some will benefit from a slightly higher return on their savings as interest rates inevitably rise, but you will have to shop around to get it.

But it is not as if we had not been warned many weeks ago when we were first warned about the impending collapse of our freight transport system, says John Humphrys (pictured)

But it is not as if we had not been warned many weeks ago when we were first warned about the impending collapse of our freight transport system, says John Humphrys (pictured)

Do not expect greedy banks to change their paths too drastically after ripping their customers off for years by effectively paying interest rates at zero.

Many will notice that the impact of National Insurance increases when they kick in. And we are all being hit by a price increase across the board. Inflation ogre has been dozing off for a long time. It’s waking up. Some warn that it could hit 8 percent.

You would have listened in vain to hear the Prime Minister refer to all those things in his conference speech. Nor is the crisis over shortages.

Clearly, he does not think it all adds up to a crisis. It’s so much easier to play in the gallery than to offer solutions.

After all, Christmas is coming and we have not just been told that more drivers are being recruited to get more turkeys into the stores? We can even save the pigs from a slaughter so we can slaughter them to eat them in a blanket instead.

But perhaps Mr Johnson should remember where his gung-ho approach to Christmas got us last year, when Covid was a real threat.

Many experts said he might become the first prime minister to cancel Christmas since Oliver Cromwell back in the mid-17th century. But he was Boris the benevolent.

He told us that we could forget most of the restrictions for the Christmas celebration – unlike other countries, including Germany, which introduced a nationwide lockdown.

So within a few days, a new lockdown had also come into force throughout this country. The number of new cases rose to 60,000 a day – the worst since the pandemic had hit. The cost to the economy and to so many bereaved families was appalling.

It was a steep price to pay for a few days of coziness – even though we shared a plate of pigs in blankets.

CHANGES USE MOTHER FOR AN EASY LIFE!

There is something strangely heartwarming about watching a family of little ducklings or goslings swim behind their mother. Each one almost the same distance apart, all in a dead straight line.

Such remarkable discipline for little creatures. Such devotion to their mother.

And now these heartless researchers have rather spoiled it with a new piece of research.

Dr. Zhiming Yuan, from Strathclyde University, has discovered that they do much more than just follow mom. They use a ‘destructive wave interference phenomenon’.

There is something strangely heartwarming about watching a family of little ducklings or goslings swim behind their mother (stock image)

There is something strangely heartwarming about watching a family of little ducklings or goslings swim behind their mother (stock image)

This means that if they position themselves straight out and keep a straight line, they will find a ‘sweet spot’.

Not only do they get the benefit of ‘surfing’ on the wave that their mother creates, but they refocus the energy of the wave so that the child who comes back also reaps the benefit.

We have known for many years that geese and other migratory birds use a similar technique when flying long distances.

The ‘V’ formation means that they take advantage of the wind current from the bird in front.

But Dr. Yuan’s research may have implications beyond the duck pond.

He will now apply his findings to ships that can create a similar effect by sailing in convoy.

Important things, no doubt. But I prefer to see a series of fluffy ducklings.

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