by David Jones
Life can become one big Groundhog Day if you’re not careful as your dotage beckons.
You get the feeling you’ve done that before, only yesterday, or was it the day before? But in fact it was last year.
It’s an age thing, of course. Time flashes by more quickly as the years pass. This phenomenon has no scientific basis but most people of mature years will know exactly what I mean.
And with every special day, it feels as though we’ve been there before but it can’t possibly be a year ago. Indeed we have been there, but the rollercoaster of life spins ever faster as we get older, creating the illusion that the big memorable events come round every few months, not every year.
I am now convinced that Children in Need is staged at least every four months.
Supermarkets must take a large share of the blame for creating what I call the Codgers’ Time Machine, where festivals, birthdays, anniversaries and various celebrations pass before our eyes in an instant and the future arrives even more quickly.
It’s August. Christmas is almost upon us. It’s September. Bonfire Night can’t be far away. It’s February. Easter must be just around the corner.
Supermarkets foist their own timetables upon us with increasing aggression. Easter eggs are on sale before the last few slices of turkey in the freezer have been used up and Christmas cards on the shelves while it can often be hot enough for a barbecue.
The sound of fireworks exploding for two weeks before November 5 brought home to me once again how commercialisation is cheapening, or even destroying, our most cherished festivities. There’s a danger they will morph into one huge event.
Time was - or at least when I was growing up – that fireworks were set off and bonfires lit ONLY on November 5, irrespective of how close that date was to a weekend. It was unthinkable to let off fireworks on any other day.
Supermarkets and discount fireworks shops now flog fireworks for weeks before November 5.
Firework “overkill” has long since removed the fun and the anticipation which was the essence of Bonfire Night. Now you can hear them being set off on New Year’s Eve, Christmas Eve, Halloween, every Saturday and Sunday night for two or three weeks before November 5, and even afterwards.
On a wet Monday evening, exactly a week after Bonfire Night, fireworks were going off in several back gardens near us. Why bother with November 5 at all?
And, of course, firework displays are now an integral part of any national celebration, whether it be the Olympics or the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and even these national celebrations are often replicated at local level with still more firework displays.
Talking of national “celebrations,” I managed to get through Halloween with only one group of kids knocking at our front door. Perhaps the fact that I turned the porch light off helped to dissuade them. It would have been much better if my wife had let me pin to our front door the “typhoid outbreak here” notice I printed out last year.
Kids going from door to door demanding trick or treat is, of course an American “institution,” largely encouraged in Britain by pound shops and supermarkets anxious to shift as much Halloween junk as they can on to hapless parents before October 31.
Most people under 30 have no idea that it hasn’t always been like that. No pumpkins at £3 a time when I was a youngster and certainly no wandering the streets knocking on front doors. It was unheard of.
When I was about six or seven – like every other kid – I wished it could be Christmas or Bonfire Night every day. The way we are going it won’t be long before supermarkets make that “dream” come true for every kid, for Christmas, Bonfire Night, Easter and any other celebration you care to name. And then there will be no sense of excited expectation as that special day, whatever it may be, draws near.
How sad if every day became “special” and, at the same time, devoid of the magic which made it special. We seem to be heading that way fast.
What? Surely it’s not Christmas again already.