It was my good friend and Carnival associate Belinda Murray who pointed out the resemblance between me and the figure of Scrooge in a recent Christmas advert.
Maybe you’ve seen it. Scrooge is seen rudely stepping passed people in a typical Victorian Christmas card scene. There’s a mother with her child looking in a toy shop window, and a busker playing a jaunty tune on his fiddle.
Scrooge does his “bah humbug!” routine, recommending a lump of coal for the child and deliberately kicking the busker’s hat, before looking into the shop front of a well-known high street opticians.
There are free offers in there, which, of course, makes him appreciate the joys of Christmas. He drops some coins in the busker’s hat and does a high kick, before declaring “Merry Christmas” to the people on the street.
He’s wearing a top hat and has long, white hair and a thin beard and he does look a little like me.
Coincidentally the Whitstable Carnival Association are holding a solstice benefit in St Mary’s Hall, Whitstable, on the 20th December, featuring Ivan’s All Stars and the Native Oysters Band.
We’re calling it the Bah Humbug Carnival Fundraiser. We named it that before anyone noticed the resemblance between me and the Dickensian character in the advert, I hasten to add.
I must admit I am a bit of a Scrooge. I don’t really like Christmas.
I like the idea. It’s a festival of light in the darkest part of the year, a festival of plenty before the lean months ahead. It celebrates the birth of a magical child in the depths of a cave.
That story is very old. It goes back to at least neolithic times. Many gods are said to have been born on the 25th of December. That’s because, three days after the Winter Solstice (the longest night) the Sun makes its first visible move on the horizon and the days become longer.
The magical child is the Sun, reborn every year in the depths of winter.
To the ancient people this would have been a matter of life and death. That’s why the festival is full of lights. They are the lights that keep the darkness away.
Midwinter is a reminder of death, and Christmas is a reminder of the life that is born again every year.
So I like that idea. What I don’t like is the rank consumerism of its modern incarnation, and the corporations’ push to commodify the festivities.
The old line, “peace on Earth and good will to all men,” (an old Viking Yule-tide greeting) has now become “more wealth to the rich and good sales for all brands.”
It doesn’t teach our children how to love and care for each other. It teaches them to love possessions and be greedy.
So me, I intend to raise a glass to the return of the Sun at the Solstice benefit on the 20th December.
I intend to make light of it. I will probably be dressed as Scrooge.
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From The Whitstable Gazette 12/12/19
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