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An sjhoward.co.uk Christmas Message

SnowflakeRecently, I walked through Newcastle and saw a Christmas display that had a degree wit about it – Ann Summers shows its lingerie collection on models wearing antlers with the greeting ‘Have a Horny Christmas’.

Given that it’s Ann Summers, there’s nothing particularly surprising about the message or the sentiment, but it did raise a smile – and a slightly sinking feeling that there’d undoubtedly be complaints about it within days.

The sinking feeling was right – shortly afterwards, the Dean of Newcastle condemned the slogan, saying that it showed a lack of awareness of the spiritual significance of Christmas.

This is surely true of most window displays: ‘Remember how Christmas used to feel’, ‘Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without M&S’, or ‘Try our Festive After Eight McFlurry’ – none of these has any particular regard for the spirituality of the occasion.

And is it unreasonable to assume that the Very Reverend Chris Dalliston would have been even more offended had the slogan been ‘Have a horny Winterval’? He would probably claim that Ann Summers had forgotten his god at Christmas time.

Christmas in particular brings out the worst in Christians. Many normally tolerant Christians see it as their duty to shout down those who don’t have god at the centre of their seasonal celebration, regardless of whether those people actually believe. Its something that oddly doesn’t happen at Easter – nobody sees Christians lining up to protest about the sale of chocolate eggs which bear little relation to the murderous death and subsequent ghost sitings of their messiah, despite that being the most sacred Christian festival.

And given that Chris Dalliston likely disapproves of most of what Ann Summers sells, he may not be the best person to give them advice on their marketing – though I’m sure they’re pleased that he tried, as it’s no doubt provided a great boost in their publicity.

He claims, of the ‘Horny Christmas’ slogan,

Everyone who can read is being wished this message, which they may not want.

So where is the uprising of the morally bankrupt atheists against the nativity scene down the road in Eldon Sqaure, or the organised disruption of the carol singing in the MetroCentre? I have no particular desire to seek their Christian message, yet it’s foisted upon me. Surely Ariane Shariene and Richard Dawkins should be organising competing choirs singing entirely secular songs and stealing the baby Jesus from the nativity. They are evil secularists, after all.
Yet I doubt that’s going to happen. I actually think you’d struggle to find any rational atheist who was against Christmas in all its forms.

For me, Christmas is primarily about spending time with my family. It is a time for a guaranteed get-together, with nice food, good banter, and presents for one another. So what’s so wrong about that?

My point is this: I don’t actually care what you celebrate at this time of year: Christmas, Winterval, a Festivus for the rest of us, or nothing at all. It’s really none of my business, and it’s each to their own.

But whatever you’re doing today and over the next few days, I give you my very best wishes for all the peace, joy, and happiness you could want.

All the best.

This post is based on my contribution to the Pod Delusion Winterval Special – it’s great, so listen to the whole thing at poddelusion.co.uk

This post was filed under: News and Comment, , , , , , .

A sincere apology from me to all of Britain

I’ve been nostalgically browsing the site’s archives today, and flicking through the digital version of Instant Opinion.

If you remember the last general election, in which Tony Blair secured an historic third term of government for the Labour Party, you may remember that I blogged about the campaign fairly intensely. And, looking back to my post about the Budget of that year, I came across this embarrassing paragraph:

The main message that I took away from today’s events was how much better Mr Brown would be as Labour’s leader: Tony Blair’s fake emotion and anger versus Mr Brown’s real commandeering and forceful delivery, appearing to actually believe what he says? I know who I’d choose.

Jeepers, how wrong can you be?

So apologies for that. I’ll try not to write anything so crap this time around. But it may be difficult to judge the crappiness until four years hence.

Still: I guess it’s a bit reassuring to know that it’s not only ‘new media’ writers like me that mess these things up – the dead-tree press are at it too. My favourite U-turn of this year has to be Michael White’s:

A hung parliament is not going to happen – And a good thing too
– Michael White, The Guardian, 23rd November 2009

Make ready the smokeless rooms: a hung parliament is on the cards
– Michael White, The Guardian, 24th November 2009


This post was filed under: Politics, , , , , .

In praise of sparekeys.com

I’ve been a member of sparekeys.com for nearly a year now, after being attracted by their clever idea: send them your spare keys, and if you lose yours, they’ll drop them round within an hour. As I said, a clever idea.

So I paid my subscription, and packaged up my keys and sent them. Pretty soon, I got confirmation that they’d arrived, complete with photographic proof. And that was that. Until Sunday night.

On Sunday night, I had cause to call them out. So I requested that they called me, and within ten minutes they did. I passed the security checks, and was given a password in exchange for a description of myself.

Within less than an hour, a courier was at my door: “I’ve got a delivery” “My keys?” “Can’t tell you until you give me the password”

I did, he gave me the keys, and it was all over. From the initial phone call to the keys being in my hand took less than an hour… On a Sunday night. In Newcastle. Who else would even attempt to rival that service?

And the piece of mind that brought cost just £30 a year or so.

I cannot recommend them highly enough. Simply brilliant service.

This post was filed under: Reviews, .

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