A while ago, the fair Dooce was assailed by her many nice middle class readers for laughing at the concept of free range chicken soup. At this point, I would like to remark that I am not in favour of hurting animals, I would like them to lead full happy lives right up to the moment they killed painlessly for me to eat. I sound like I’m being sarcastic, but I’m not.
What struck me forcibly about this is the superior tones that people like to employ when reprimanding on this topic. I regard them as fellow travellers with the green lobby. Yes, I would like to save the planet, really. No, I am not going to stop sending Christmas cards or wrapping Christmas presents because it’s more sustainable. Nor am I going to give my children Christmas presents of goats in Africa or artificial limbs for amputees. It’s not that I don’t think these are good causes, I just don’t think they are good Christmas presents. Dear God, to hear people’s reactions I might as well be advocating the reinstatement of the death penalty. When I drive to work, I get reproving looks. Only the fact that I have two small children to deliver to the creche, saves me from complete disgrace. And sometimes, when I leave the room, I let the light on, oh yes I do.
Do you remember the 1980s (those born since 1983 need not respond) when greens were all people with socks and sandals? Well, now they’ve all been proved right. The London intelligensia love green issues. They fill the papers with it. UK government policy is full of it. EU policy is full of it. Al Gore made a wildly successful film about it. And boy are the environmental lobby (increasingly, I concede, beginning to look like everybody except me, George Bush and a couple of Texas oil billionaires) condescending in victory. They’re always offering patronising tips to the less enlightened like “make sure that you always use all the ink in your biro; if everyone did this then the ice caps wouldn’t be melting”.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to wrap my Christmas presents.
yes. really. I especially loathe goat for Africa Christmas presents. It is against my religion, and in this I am not joking. If you care about Africa you make a monthly standing order to a charity you respect and don’t tell anybody how much it is for. If you want to spend less on gifts for adult friends, you just tell them so, preferably before they will have done their Christmas shopping and spent a load on you. To treat aid for the poor as a deduction from your Christmas shopping budget is to be mean twice.
Aphra Behn says
The only time I’ve ever considered the goat option was the year after my father died and I really did not want to play happy Christmases at all. Since then, two or three Christmases spent in barely heated dormitories on Buddhist retreats taught me:
(1) Central Heating is my friend
(2) Sisterhood is about family, actually
(3) Sitting on the floor for more than 20 minutes makes my back ache
(4) A suprising number of vegetarian women cannot cook decent vegetarian food
(5) Brandy helps
I learned a lot of good things too, and I must not be bitchy.
I am just about to drive three miles into town to buy wrapping paper and sparkly things.
Have a good Christmas!
brilliant comment, artw.
i love the idea of goat giving, etc., but only if the person specifically requests it, i.e. i need nothing more, but thank you so much for thinking of me and if you must give something, give this.
and not only ‘be mean,’ as you say, but ‘demean’ as well, if you can forgive the word play.
And what, exactly, is wrong with the death penalty?! Not the electric chair, obviously. That would waste electricity.