Christmas in the Shack

Christmas in the Shack


Danny, Mark, and the Jons present their Christmas special.

[00:00:00] Peter Jones: The major problem, one of the major problems for there are several, one of the many major problems with governing people is that of who you get to do it, or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

[00:00:15] To summarize, it is a well-known and much limited fact that those people who most want to rule people are ipso, facto those lists duty to do it.

[00:00:25] To summarize the summary, anyone who is capable of getting themselves made president should a no account, be allowed to do the job.

[00:00:33] To summarize the summary of the summary, people are a problem.

[00:00:38] And so this is the situation we find: a succession of collectic presidents who so much enjoy the fun and palavra of being in power that they never really noticed that they're not.

[00:00:50] And somewhere in the shadows behind them, who? Who can possibly rule, if no one who wants to can be allowed to?


[00:00:58] Mark: Pussy! Pussy puss puss puss. Coo-chee-coo-chee-coo. Pussy want his fish? Nice piece of fish. Pussy want it? Pussy not eat is fish pushing it thin and waste away. I think. I imagine this is what will happen, but how can I tell? I think it's better if I don't get involved. I think fish is nice, but then I think rain is wet so who am I to judge? Ah, you're eating it. Fish come from far away or so I'm told, or so I imagine I am told.

[00:01:37] When the men come, or when, in my mind the men come with their microphones and their books about unromantic gray cities and their opinions on capitalism, do they come in your mind too? What do you see, pussy? And when I hear their bits, all their many bits, their admonishment about almond milk or thwarting every attempt at wrangling them into order, do you hear bits? Perhaps you just think they're singing songs to you. Perhaps they are singing songs to you and I just think they're making fun of me for drinking almond milk. Do you think they came today? I do. There's craft beer empties in the bin, a box of Quality Street and a bottle of Bailey's on my table, phishing your plate and a memory of disgrace in my mind.

[00:02:26] And look what else they've left me. It looks like a copy of that book. I wonder if this is a Christmas present. I think today is Christmas day, don't you puss? But there isn't a tree nor loved ones and no presents for the last ones to give to the first one.

[00:02:46] I think I remember children singing last year, or was it the year before? I want to build a snowman and the children came and we all threw snowballs at it. Perhaps it will snow again someday, when those ape descendants have stopped trying to make small green pieces of paper by smashing prime numbers together. Perhaps the children have already been, and I've forgotten. Perhaps I'd like a glass of Bailey's. Yes, that seems more likely.

[00:03:14] Perhaps I should take a look at this book, then it looks very old. I think I'm an old man. So it has been a long time since I saw a copy of the Hitchhiker's Guide that was this old. I wonder what it has to say.

[00:03:29] Jon Bounds: What we laughingly call the Guide has much to say on the topic of earth, Christmas past, most of the tautological as all recorded Christmas exists in the past. Traditions built from the norse Yule, Roman Saturnalia, grafted on turkey saints and pagan tree worship combined with complex surgical practices and a dash of whatever the sausage roll marketing board hype into the charts this year.

[00:04:00] More than wrapping themselves like pigs and a comforting tradition. blanket, earth people ape a concept of Christmas past that itself was already old. In Britain, people live in the nostalgic glam rock Christmas of 1973, through the words of Noddy Holder, who is in turn reflecting the Warsall Yule tides of the 1950s, where his grandmother, despite protestations that old ones were the best, enjoyed a spot of Buddy Holly and Poison Ivy by the Coasters.

[00:04:31] We simultaneously live in the 16.67% of the boyhood Christmases of Irving Berlin, a five-year-old newcomer to New York, where only once every six years there had more than an inch of snow on the ground on December the 25th, since 1912. Or do we spend time in the Belorussian members of his parents whose home region of Pittsburgh has around 100 days of snow a year? But even these Christmases are then contemporarily nostalgics and mocha of the concepts of simply having an English Victorian Christmas time.

[00:05:09] Much of the Anglosphere is modern notion of Christmas comes from the work of a bearded writer of the 1800s,, but despite the amble opportunities for using the supply of sprouts, turkeys, and action figures of GI Joe with the Kung Fu grip to demonstrate the labor theory of value, earth society has instead chosen Charles Dickens.

[00:05:29] The Hitchhiker's guide contains most of these apocryphal or at least wildly inaccurate, but it isn't at least an attempt at nonfiction. Dickins whose snow, gooses and goodwill to all men contend the foundations of our idea of Christmas was making it up.

[00:05:46] Born in 1812, Deakins experienced six white Christmases in the first nine years of his life. But after the end of what is called the little ice age in the mid 19th century, they became a rarity in Britain outside of Christmas fiction, where I ever continued to live in Charles Dickens, his childhood as Irving and naughty did before us.

[00:06:07] The Christmas pass section of Dickinson, 1843 at Christmas. Carol contains a timeline circularity that slighty Bart fast would campaign against in his story, the one that gives us the idea of Victorian Christmas an idea that didn't exist before the story, his lead character goes back into the past to view a wonderful Christmas time of a type that wouldn't exist until after the book itself became the basis of our idealized Christmas.

[00:06:35] George Orwell wrote a long essay about the work of Deakins, his disappointments lay, not in the pros or the defiance of the campaign for real time, but in a lack of a revolutionary position on how the society he described could change. Dickens, wrote Orwell, has no constructive suggestions, not even a clear grasp of the nature of the society he is attacking, only an emotional perception that something is wrong. All he can finally say is behave decently.

[00:07:07] And that is the problem with Scrooge's redemption. He sees Christmas past and he sees that he was happier being kind. But self-serving redemption is not change. Deakins, says Orwell, was not revolutionary writer, but he revolutionized our December, took from the catalog of past tradition and laid out our Yule as certainly as if he had got his highlighters out on his copy of Parlor Pianoforte Times, and corralled a group of eminent Victorian newspaper men to dress as sailors and sing a song from contemporary musical, then presented it to us saying, so here it is, merry Christmas.

[00:07:48] You boy, his Scrooge says. What notes are these, and are they in the right order? But those traditions of winter feasting stretched so far back into the past that we can reach back even to paleolithic Islington and see two cave men enjoying a post dinner game of Scrabble. One by one, they both stone tiles with letters from the rabbit skin bag and form a sentence that asks the ultimate Christmas question: what will your daddy do when he sees your mama kissing Santa Claus? They have an H and two A's left in the bag.

[00:08:29] The ultimate answer is it that your Christmas past is unwritten. You can build your own myths Mark, surely as you can build a snowman. And wherever you stick the carrot is up to you.

[00:08:41] Mark: Why did that book call me Mark? It seems odd to give a bundle of vague sensory perceptions a name. And it mentions Christmas past. But how can I tell that the past isn't a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind? Oh, look, my glass is empty again.

[00:09:04] Now, what's this dropping through my letterbox? It looks like a Tre, D T V D V D. And it has don't panic written in large friendly letters on the label. Hopefully my sensor tape Omnibox can play it. Let's see what it says.


[00:09:23] Jon Hickman: The ghost of Christmas present. Please note that due to yet another round of funding cuts, this article was produced without the aid of copywriters sub-editors that could be virtual assistant or collect on ultra quilts. It is therefore fundamentally a little confused.

[00:09:54] the ghost of Christmas present. Do you remember things? Do you remember Christmas, Christmas mornings, you'd wake up, right? Wouldn't you and you'd run downstairs and there'd be a mum and your dad bleary-eyed and you don't get everything and you just keep on you keep opening everything and you barely know what you'd open cause digging and digging in more and more things and dad's pouring up Brandy and you're still opening things. Do you remember, do you remember?

[00:10:21] I'll tell you what. I always wanted a pool Daniel's magic. Do you remember Paul Daniels? For years, I asked for a Paul Daniels magic set and then one year I got one. I liked it. Not a lot, but I liked it.

[00:10:34] Hey, but what's the deal with presents? I spent about 10 quid at some you, you spent about 10 quid at some me and presence. Sometimes you're not even there when I open it anyway, cracking on, I did some research into presence here it is. The presence, research, gold conducts, heat, electricity, duck tile, Heidi, reflective heat, and light frankincense, its aromatic properties are set to promote feelings of relaxation, peace and overall wellness. Mur kills, harmful bacteria supports oral health. Simple to use a perfect combo for someone who wants to brush their teeth in a bubble bath or conducting electricity. Can't see any problems there. I'd still prefer a chocolate orange.

[00:11:17] My parents, one year they shared a beautiful cake with us. Brought back from Caribbean cruise, a beautiful. Sponge soaked to bursting with delicious rum. I said to my dad, so you've got this on a Caribbean cruise. He said, yes, you mum picked it up. And the Caribbean cruise, I said, Jamaica, no, we were actually in St Kitts,

[00:11:36] but there are some classic presents on there. The chocolate, orange, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, of course, but also book tokens of diaries and calendars and DVDs. The many years stand up, company DVDs were a solid dad gift choice, but their days now seemed numbered. As we all turned to streaming platforms who needs a DVD of Michael McEntire, remembering things?

[00:11:56] Well, the death of the comedy DVD is bad news for stockings that need to be filled, but it's good news for us and the guide cash strapped as we are, we've bought up the remainder products and we're trying to find new ways to repurpose these ghosts of Christmas presents. Now let us tell you about our mother-in-law.


[00:12:12] Mark: What does a mother in. I wonder if it's the name for that flap of skin, just on the tip of my elbow. Yes. That seems plausible still. It would be nice to get a present or to give one. I think giving presence is probably nicer than receiving them. At least when you give something away, you don't have to find a place to keep it until the person you gave it to comes round again.

[00:12:37] Ah, but I miss Chris. That seems very little point to it when you're alone in a shack with no one to talk to, except you. Plus I read somewhere that this is the shape of all Christmases to come. That seems like a pretty dystopian prediction to me puss. But what do I know? I know I'd like a green triangle.

[00:13:02] Hmm. Yeah. Right.

[00:13:05] Oh, puss. You're sitting on the TV. Remote what's worse. You've just changed the channel to Sabetha text. I didn't even know my TV still received Sabetha. Oh, but look, it's flipped over to page 267,709. It's another entry from the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy. But this edition doesn't come out for another century.

[00:13:29] Here puss, give me the remote. Let me turn up the volume and see what it says.

[00:13:37] Danny: Perhaps the most academically studied of all the quotes by former galactic presidents, they fought beetle Brocks from its short term in office. Is the pronouncements. Everyone who tries to predict the future from now will fail. Interestingly enough, it's not the philosophy or the logic departments, most of who were on record of saying, I'm not touching that with a well-insulated product drone, it is in fact the psychology departments who write quite long tracts of undergraduate dissertations on whether this was an incredibly astute thing to say, oh, very Berry dumb with that in mind, let's give, predicting in the feature a stab anyway.

[00:14:19] Christmas on earth, some would say is one of the most static and traditional times of the year, that wall on the face of it is jolly and joyous, underneath runs occurrence of angry resistance. The city of Birmingham found this out when one year it decided to put all its winter festivals and events under the banner Winterval. Christmas celebrations were very much part of this and the Winterval celebrations kicked off with the Santas parade through the city center in the middle of November.

[00:14:47] Christian's small C conservatives and people that fear change more than a nice Polish family down the road were terribly offended. Not like you'd expect at the beginning of the Christmas celebrations, a good two weeks before advent,

[00:15:00] but at the seeming attack at their idea of the white Orthodox Christmas of that. And England officially being a hell island, the national press picked it up with the tax and delicacy of a Dingo, picking up a baby splashing, Birmingham band's Christmas around until it got bored and moved onto something else, again, much like a bingo with that same baby five minutes after.

[00:15:23] The point is this wife Birmingham's. Even just 20 years after with the largest secular population it is ever seen, Christmas is changing. The only thing stopping Christmas bleeding in September at this point is Halloween. There are campaigns to keep Christ in Christmas, but to be honest, he really has no business being in there in the first place.

[00:15:44] The Winterval meme can absorb and spit out Christ, just lucky bit with Mithras, satin and the of gods Pixies and folk creatures of the past. At the moment, Christmas is on a knife edge. One side is an alienating traditionalist, Christmas of school rules and codes. That must be a day or two. And inside that husk capitalism burrows about making the court switch. And on the other side is a time to reconnect with your family chosen or not an opportunity to tell each other what they mean to you.

[00:16:14] Anyone that predicts the future will be wrong, but imagine a festival that is spread over the entire winter months, censoring the personal and family traditions, a festival where we look inside ourselves and to each other, to find the light and warmth we miss in the fog and sleep gifts and love and pockets in the snow where love lives. We can't make that happen.

[00:16:35] Mark: That seems like good advice. Tend to think. So post, I think it is, but I'm tired. Today is Christmas day and I have neither Christmas tree nor lights nor snow and no Christmas cheer.

[00:16:55] Bah humbug. No, that's too strong for it is my favorite holiday, but all this year has been a busy blur, I don't think I have the energy let's lock up for the night puss. You lick your plate clean and I'll go and take the bins out.

[00:17:11] Pussy puss, look, Christmas cheer was here all along. I found it behind the bins with a note from Hermes saying they've left it in a safe place.

Creators and Guests

Danny Smith
Danny Smith
Writer and malcontent. Co-wrote Pier Review with Jon Bounds. His new book is Staring Death in the Face.
Jon Bounds
Jon Bounds
Marxist with ‘70s sitcom fixation. Edits Paradise Circus, writes books on Birmingham and piers.
Jon Hickman
Jon Hickman
Author of 101 Things Birmingham Gave the World, and Birmingham: It’s Not Shit: 50 Things That Delight About Brum.
Mark Steadman
Mark Steadman
Mark makes podcasts, music, books, and things to help creative people get out of their own way.