Friday, 30 November 2012

It's November!

OK, so I accept that today is the last day of November, and that tomorrow is December, but at the moment it is still November.

So why is this important? Well, it’s important because Christmas is still 25 days, nearly 4 weeks, away. But that doesn't seem to have bothered the shops or the radio stations, which have been playing Christmas music for weeks!

Two weeks ago there was a formal dinner at my Squadron, and I was in during the day. At one point I went into the kitchen to see how the Chefs were getting on and they had a radio on. Sadly, the radio station was playing Slade's Merry Xmas Everybody. It was the 17th November, nearly six weeks early. But I also know that many of the shopping centres and shops have been playing Christmas music earlier than this, some since October!

At the risk of sounding like a "back in my day" type, I'm sure that when I was a kid, Christmas advertising and music didn't make an appearance until the beginning to middle of December. The pattern was that Christmas advertising and music was around for about two weeks before Christmas day and then everyone would see how long it was before they spotted their first holiday advert (I think they usually appeared just after the Queen's speech or during the commercials that interrupted the big Christmas day film).

Nowadays, as people book their holidays at the last minute and usually via the Internet, holiday adverts seem to have disappeared and the adverts from Christmas day onwards seem to be for Easter eggs!

So how long will it be before Christmas, Easter and every other holiday is advertised year-round. As it is, people are becoming over-exposed to all the "holidays" and I just think that there will be nothing special about them at all.

I am also sure that when I was a kid, nowhere was open (except newsagents) on the various holidays (Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year's Day, Bank Holidays etc), but now there's been a complete turnaround and it appears that nowhere is closed on these days, in fact they have just become another working day, business and commerce taking priority over family.

Perhaps we should just abolish all of these various high days and holidays. It would be far cheaper!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Lest We Forgot

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Laurence Binyon (1914)
In Memory Of

Private Joseph Watt
S/4206, 1st Bn., Seaforth Highlanders who died on 10 April 1916
Aged 21
Remembered with honour on Panel 37 and 64
Basra Memorial, Iraq
Serjeant Thomas McIvor
S/8909, 9th Bn., Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) who died on 29 April 1916
Aged 30
Remembered with honour on Panel 78 to 83
Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

Thursday, 1 November 2012


I know that I hadn't really lived in this country until I was eight, but I'm also sure that the whole Halloween thing was nowhere near as popular as it now seems to be.

I knew that Halloween was celebrated as I was a big fan of the Peanuts books by Charles M. Schulz.  Charlie Brown  would set up a pumpkin patch every Halloween in the hope that he would be visited by the Great Pumpkin, but was disappointed every year.

However, to me it was something that Americans celebrated, dressing up every year and "trick or treating". I'm sure it never happened in this country, but now it seems that every year there are more and more children, young and old, roaming the streets and demanding sweets and more.

There was a programme on the radio yesterday where they were discussing the rise of "trick or treating", and how it had moved further than just young kids going from door to door and collecting sweets. Apparently, in some areas, there are groups of teenagers who will go door to door, but who aren't happy with just sweets, they demand money. And if they don't get money, they will often play quite malicious tricks on the person in the house.

I have to say that, adopting a cynical approach, I believe that much of the recent increase in the popularity of Halloween is nothing more than a marketing ploy by the various greeting card manufacturers, the same people who are pushing for things like "grandparent's day" and "nurses day" to be celebrated, with the appropriate greeting card, purchased from them, of course.

When I was a child, there was much more emphasis in "Bonfire Night". This commemorated the fact that in 1605 a man called Guido Fawkes was arrested in the early hours of  November 5th in the cellars under the Houses of Parliament with a large amount of gunpowder.

Fawkes, and seven other catholic conspirators had hatched the Gunpowder Plot, as it came to be known, to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament, killing the protestant King James I with the intention that he be replaced by his nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, as a catholic monarch. Almost all of the conspirators were tried and found guilty of treason and sentenced to death by being hanged, drawn and quartered.

Since then, on or near the 5th November every year, all over the UK there are firework displays and bonfires, either private or elaborately organised, the latter often having been planned all year by various Bonfire Societies.

For most people, the sectarian significance of bonfire night has long been forgotten. But it is still a problem in areas where there are sectarian tensions, such as Northern Ireland, the catholic community putting more emphasis on Halloween, the protestant community concentrating on Bonfire Night. In fact, it is possible that the American "tradition" of celebrating Halloween may have been an import with the Irish immigrants during the 19th Century.

None of my children went trick or treating when they were younger, but they did go to various organised firework displays, and will be this year, attending the Squadron fireworks on Saturday.

Changing tack completely, myself and m'Julie went to the cinema this evening and saw Skyfall, the latest James Bond film. Both of us thought that it was very good and enjoyed the film a lot. I think that the way that the Bond films are going is back to the way that the original films had been made, which I think is a good thing. There was even an appearance by my all-time favourite car, the Aston Martin DB5, so I think that it was worth it just for that!