Winter is coming

Good morning, friends!

I’ve had a lot to say on a number of serious subjects of late, and as a side effect these musings have grown a great deal more ponderous than I ever intended, and so henceforth I shall err more on the side of brevity.  Because time is precious, and we’re all busy people.

The time of year is approaching again:  all of the plants are slowly shrivelling up and dying, the sky is turning a good deal greyer, and spewing rain with greater frequency; in short, the world is giving us another reminder of the words of House Stark.  It is not just the planet that is at it, however.  I am inundated with pensioners who, like heralds of some distant woe, come to confirm the aforementioned signs.  “That summer didn’t last long, did it?” they say, staring out of the window at the bleakness.

The reminders of the season also come to us through the media, in the form of party conference season.  Television and radio has been filled with old suited white men, telling lies; in order that we determine whose lies are the most plausible.  I suspect that today will be the day that Ed Balls tells us that water isn’t wet or something, while the conference applaud in the right places and front row nod along like credulous chimps.  Then it will be the turn of Osborne unfurl his leathery wings and make the voyage from his crypt to the annual Tory conference in Manchester, so he can tell us that up is down and wrong is right and summer is coming or whatever.

I do not know what unholy coven was charged with composing these speeches, but I do know my brain is in utter thrall to them.  But that might not be saying much.  It could be that I’m simply not that clever.  What do I know about economics, really?  I know I don’t like taxes, and that’s about it; hardly a firm basis on which to form an opinion on the economy.

In order to distract myself from it all, I take a trip down to the shops, but even there I can’t escape the most abrasive sign that winter is coming: the sight of Christmas themed stuff in the shops.  In mid-September.  Even we have started selling these little chocolate penguin thingys.  Now, while a penguin is not explicitly Christmassy, we’re certainly getting near some threshold here.  It’s certainly a bird that one would associate with winter, even though presumably it does exist in summer.  It’s not like a mythical Christmas creature, like an elf or a gremlin.  Nor is it especially different in winter than it is in summer, like the reindeer that is seasonally gifted the ability to fly.  But is definitely at least vaguely christmassy.

Not every shop has such an obtuse approach.  I saw advent calendars in Morrison’s.  It’s not even Hallowe’en yet.  Surely they can give us until after Hallowe’en?  Well, no, they can’t, and they won’t.  To wait until after Hallowe’en, according to the vampires that run Morrison’s, is to hand the initiative to the werewolves that run Tesco.  A reminder must be given as early as possible, otherwise the puny humans that roam around their supermarkets will somehow forget that WINTER IS COMING.

I’m reluctant to even discuss Christmas.  To do so, at this time of year, seems somehow in bad taste.  But the supermarkets know no such shame.  I used to think that the date of Christmas first appearing in shops would slowly creep backward into the year, until Christmas stretched across the whole calendar.  This hasn’t happened.  Instead, we (or rather, market forces) seem to have settled on this precise time of year.

They have determined, by some unimaginable process, that the second-from-last week in September is the optimum time in which start putting Christmas stuff into shops.  They imagine, probably quite reasonably, that there are some hyper-organised people who will buy their advent calendars at the earliest opportunity.  But there aren’t that many of these sorts of people.  No, I believe this sort of thing has a far broader audience.  It’s advertising.  It’s a sort of supermarket equivalent of sending you a picture of your recently-kidnapped baby alongside the most recent edition of the Mail on Sunday. 

It’s a gentle reminder – to all of us – that winter is coming, and we better jolly well be prepared because if we aren’t there will be ramifications.  Crops will be lost, buried under mountains of snow; winds will blow down from the north, blowing away entire villages; artic chill will descend, freezing your very genitals into…

Okay, I’m thinking of something entirely different.  The main real consequence will be that you forget to buy overpriced crap for your spouse and various offspring, or that you will leave it too late and not allocate as much money toward buying said crap and, as a consequence, spend less.  All of the supermarkets will, as a consequence, make less money, and will not be able to pay their many employees, who will, as a consequence, not be able to buy overpriced crap for their respective spouses and various offspring.  Tiny Tim will, in this horrible doomsday scenario, have to go without a PlayStation 4 until mid-January at the earliest.  It’s as though Christmas has swollen in importance to become a lynchpin on which the whole terrible system rests. 

So, how can we go about resisting this awful mind control?  God only knows.  I suppose I’ve only made things a good deal worse by discussing it.  We probably shouldn’t even do anything about it anyway, since every action we might consider would probably affect the GDP figures in some adverse way, which would probably make everyone even more depressed.

Until next week.

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