Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Saturday 22 December 2012

Still here...

...despite the combined predictions of the Mayans and Nostradamus - 'Gangnam Style's' YouTube video having notched up the prophecy-fulfilling nine zeros (see previous post).

And there's been another reprieve too; remember 2011AG5? That's the catchy name they gave a 140m-wide chunk of rock on course to pass close by in 2040 - so close that, earlier this year, it was announced (by Americans, naturally)  that we were in a 'non-zero impact probability situation'.

It turns out that the phrase - though a delight in itself - was a little premature; further observation has confirmed that it will get no closer that 890,000 miles away.

So - what's new? Well, despite the optimistic forecasts of the hopeful, I can't imagine that there will be any less of Man's inhumanity to Man and I very much doubt that the potential end of the world brought about any  Damascene conversions - though I do wonder whether it played a part in causing the gridlock at my local supermarket on Friday morning; "Quick, Daphne; go and get some more bread in - the world's about to end!"

The combination of approaching festivities, forecasts of bad weather and pay-day would, I suppose, have produced a perfect storm even without the added frisson of a sense of impending doom, however unlikely.

It's odd, when you come to think of it, how this supposed festival has become a major theatrical production with all the worry and problems that entails. Type 'Christmas stress' into Google and you'll be offered a choice of 176,000,000 entries.

Not surprisingly, the Guardian has homed in on this:
Dr Orla Dunn, senior lecturer in health psychology at Coventry, added that there were health risks at Christmas too.
 "In terms of the health effects of stress, people who spend weeks worrying about Christmas can suffer a breakdown in their immune system, leaving them susceptible to colds. Coming into contact with more people at Christmas exposes people to more infections."
And that's without the threat of norovirus and flu - ironic that some will be brought low by an infection that prevents them consuming any of the excessive amount of food they have run themselves into the ground to procure, like songbirds struggling to feed a ravenous cuckoo chick.

Meanwhile, talking of food, in case the Righteous needed a heads-up, Dr Dunn continues with her message of peace and goodwill:
"Eating fattening foods, taking less exercise and stressful situations between family members can really take its toll on your health."
She and her team are 'surprised at the lack of research on the effects of Christmas on mental well-being' - which I think translates as 'we've run out of research projects to do - anyone fancy funding this one?'

Here at the Tavern, we discovered the solution long ago thanks to a timely major power-cut one Christmas Eve; if you don't get the preparations done, it doesn't matter in the least. There is no deficit or omission that cannot be remedied with a hug and a laugh (or - in the case of toilet rolls - a trip to the all-night petrol station).

These days, as soon as getting ready ceases to be enjoyable, everyone downs tools and gathers round the fire with his or her drink of choice and the unspoken agreement that we don't care whether it's finished or not as long as we're all happy and the sherry/whisky/wine supply holds up.


  1. Interesting that 1) the Guatemalan tourist trade has been positively roaring this year, and that 2) in the run-up to 21/12/12, experts were busy reinterpreting the Mayan calendar. Might sponsors now commission a 21/12/13 end of the world scenario?

  2. "as soon as getting ready ceases to be enjoyable"

    Ceases? In my case it never gets started.

    It's all too frantic and formulaic for me. I like the quiet period between Christmas and New Year though.

  3. IH, welcome to the Tavern!

    Good point - I imagine that even now, there are retail analysts considering how to tap into that end-of-the-world hoarding instinct in time for next December.

    Of course, even today's '£5 billion' spending may be tangentially connected - "Damn! The world didn't end so we'll have to get a present for Auntie Margery after all".

    AKH - true, some have a higher threshold than others for the whole business. Personally, I'm for mulled wine and mince pies by the fire every time but that means I'm happy to make both of them as my contribution.

  4. Supposed to be today, Macheath. So either bye bye or Merry Christmas.

  5. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all at the Tavern.

  6. "...a timely major power-cut one Christmas Eve..."

    Couldn't agree more.

    Years ago we had power out from 7a.m. on New Year's day right through until the early hours of the following morning.

    Practically the whole street gathered in our house (clue - oil-fired Aga), the wine held out, we talked to each other (no TV! No loud music! No x-Box!) and made all the chidren do party-pieces.

    Best New Year ever!

    Enjoy yours.

  7. Waiting breathlessly for your new post, Macheath.


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