X’mas evolution & a female Santa

Columnist  | Kishwar Desai

Opinion, Oped

Well, if not quite Queen Victoria, PM Theresa May is also struggling to make a difference — and one has to give her credit for persistence.

British Prime Minister Theresa (Photo: AP)

Christmas lights are on in Oxford Street, as last minute shoppers spend, spend, spend — and will ring up an expected £1.7 billion for Santa’s bulging bag of gifts. They will have spent this on last minute presents on the weekend — pushing the overall Christmas shopping bill for the country to a whopping £8 billion. That’s definitely good news for those who thought Brexit might mean the end of Christmas as we know it… there is no gloom and doom folks, as the season of good cheer dawns.

The artistically arranged streetlights, of course, are another reason to be out and about — because the streets are completely spectacular, and they can be enjoyed for free! My favourite lights are on Bond Street — where this year they are in the shape of peacock feathers. Snowflakes and reindeer remain favourite themes and the whole of central London has a special “white Christmas” look about it.

Opinion is divided whether snow in reality will add to the joy because many are worrying (already!) about transport and sludge… what ever happens — let’s just enjoy the Christmas party!

Meanwhile, while most of us decorate the Christmas tree and sing carols — let us also pause to thank the one person who (according to a special BBC Christmas show, due to be telecast on the day itself, called Comfort and Joy) apparently changed the festival from a very pagan one, into a “family” festival. Yes, I am referring to Prince Albert — who after he had married Queen Victoria found ways to preserve good parts of the German traditions he remembered — and ended up creating the “Christmas” we celebrate today. In true BBC form — the broadcasters have spent many thousands of pounds in recreating the kind of atmosphere, which may have existed in the mid-19th century. It also took them months to “construct” the outdoor scenes — which included skating spaces and biodegradable snow. The Christmas tree, as we know it, was entirely Prince Albert’s doing — as he tried to replicate what he remembered from his childhood. According to the TV show preview presentations — the Prince placed a row of seven trees (representing different family members) on tables or altars — and arranged the gifts below. While this custom was picked up by the British public at the time — one of Albert’s close friends also began to prepare cards — which caught the imagination of the British people. They too began to create Christmas trees, give presents to each other and exchange Christmas cards, inspired by what the royals were up to!

So in case you have time — watch how Christmas evolved on BBC — and learn about the celebration of Christmas to a much more family-oriented event.

Interestingly, by focusing on the rituals of giving and receiving presents and so on, the BBC has managed to divert attention from the fact that this is meant to be a very “Christian” festival. Smart!

Well, if not quite Queen Victoria, Prime Minister Theresa May is also struggling to make a difference — and one has to give her credit for persistence. Her latest sacking of Damian Green, the first secretary of state and Cabinet office minister, and one of her closest allies, must have led to a great deal of introspection in the Tory party. It has deprived her of crucial support within her own Cabinet — but it needed to be done, because close on the heels of the allegation that Mr Green had behaved inappropriately with a Tory activist, came details of an old inquiry into allegations that pornography had been found on his official computer. These allegations date back to 2008 — and Mr Green allegedly misled the public, denying the charge. His prompt dismissal by Ms May has been appreciated as far too many cases, even in the UK, go unpunished due to lack of evidence.

Building on her pro-women image,

Ms May has also suggested that there should be a woman James Bond in future… this will definitely be the reinvention of a popular British brand if it ever happens. Bond films are well known for their hidden and apparent misogyny. Even some of the names given to the typical femme fatale characters in James Bond novels and films speak volumes of what the women in Bond films represent. I hesitate to replicate some of these names in a family newspaper — but readers of Ian Fleming “galore” will know what I mean! If this actually happens — the Bond brand will be deprived of its “bikini-clad babes”!

This gender focus means we must begin asking for a female Santa Claus — as all roles now require reversal. So get ready for an unbearded Santa, clambering down your chimney, dressed in a mini skirt in a not-so-distant Christmas. So long as she still arrives laden with gifts — and we don’t mess around with the sledge and the sex of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer — all will be well!