In times past, my writing has been referred to as “irreverent” and this infuriates me.
My writing is not irreverent.
It is IRRELEVANT.
And that matters.
As follows are some other statements of things that matter.
Testosterone is qualifying.
Flying liquid is frighteningly free.
And capitalism is sexier.
Decreasingly important to people however, is faith (bear with me; even if you’re not a bear).
I’ve been toying with the idea of Catholicism. Not that I wish to be a part of the family of utter horrors for much of Europe’s history, but rather more because I do enjoy the pageantry.
Hats that have forever out-done their protestant competition (a protestant hat might be more suitable for a job interview though).
‘Carnal sin’ (the good kind) and ‘Cardinal purple’ both outstrip (literally) the Protestants’ ‘Stop smiling!’.
There is something very assured and cool in the gaze of a senior catholic priest that suggests: “You know all that fucked up shit outside the cathedral door? That was us.”
My dog and I walk one another when either of us is in the mood and is prepared to do what they’re bloody-well-told by the other.
We walk through orchard and bramble, flushing out the rabbits and restraining one another from giving chase because that would just count as snacking before our evening meal.
It was on one of these dashes that I saw a glare of silver in the mud, and stooped to examine.
The shimmer was a saint, Saint Roch, winking at me with his knee exposed; as sultry as you like.
“Pray for us, Saint Roch, Italy”, said the small pendant, likely inadvertently dropped by one of the European pickers in the orchard.
A man flashing me with his knee, whilst his own dog watched on irresponsibly, had been found in the orchard and I could not leave it there, nor at that.
So I pocketed St Roch, and took him home for a bath.
A little further research disclosed much about the canonised fellow, chiefly that he apparently posed for many a painting with his trademark sultry pose of leaning on his staff, hoisting his lower robing to reveal the revelation of a rather smashing knee.
And a dog.
Still further research unveiled that St Roch is a patron saint of many other reasons I wish to become Catholic.
The falsely accused.
Bachelors (as he lifts his robe to share his knee with me, I always imagine him saying “Hmm. A bachelor hmm?” I wish I didn’t).
And many more.
The dog as it turned out, favoured St Roch during his plague days by bringing him bread (not the Jesus-body kind), therein earning him the title “Good boy”.
At some point there was a baker, burgled by a dog soon to be immortalised as the saviour of a saint, but that just doesn’t put money in the till, particularly during paltry plague times.
According to the Golden Legend, a compendium of these stories, this same dog licked St Roch’s unfortunate knee wounds, undoubtedly adding just that little bit of extra flavour to the pilfered loaf.
His popularity and legend caused Roch a sainthood, a brotherhood, a mass following, and before all of these, his death by starvation in a jail cell. I presume dogs were not permitted visits. Nor were loaves.
And I found him in the mud of my local orchard.
I don’t know how regularly he is idolised these days, particularly considering the lack of truly species-ending plague that we used to handle so poorly, in addition to the fact that those with knee problems are unlikely to bend onto them to begin praying.
Perhaps St Roch is making the underdog (sans bread) come back – ala St Rocky of Philadelphia?
I’m not a Godly person, but perhaps it’ll help to worship something I feel sorry for, such as St Roch and his dog. I could end each dedicated prayer with “Awwwwmen”, but then again my knees are dandy and I’m not a bachelor, though I do pity diseased cattle.
I just feel I need some religion in my life.
Not spirituality though, because that amounts to an unseemly mix of both being haunted and bullshit, and I’ve no time in my day for either.
I need religion, a quiet place to be, a solemn thought to think, a good thing to remember, and preferably a view.
I need a saint, someone in the ‘something’ category of people that I can send good wishes to. Although, unlike the archetypal prayer maker, I don’t really want for anything, nor doing I fear eternal damnation as I’m already a Crystal Palace fan. Therefore, it would be nice to send a prayer to someone, such as St Roch, just to check in on them and see how they’re doing for a change.
Do they need anything? What have they been up to recently? Did they catch the match (bloody Palace)?
All before signing-off with the aforementioned “Awwwwmen” and then returning back to Earth with a sense of civic saintly duty done, and hopefully with less diseased cattle (if you ever find yourself with cattle, now you’ve got something to hope they’re not).
And that’s why I’ve really brought you here today; pity.
Have a little pity and give an irrelevant writer with an irrelevant saint a break and give us both a Like and a Follow. Just think of that poor little dog, unable to woof properly owing to being corked with bread, just wanting you to Like and Follow the Lateral Column.
I have never been more proud of my species than the occasion on which I watched the video of an Australian man squaring up with and punching a Kangaroo.
To begin, this was not one of those cruel kangaroo-boxing charades as per the Victorian era…it was a kangaroo that deserved to be punched and man that deserved to do the punching.
To set the scene of this wonderful moment, it begins sadly.
A young Australian man has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, meaning that his life is a great deal more ‘over’ than the rest of us currently walking around.
This being so, the chap is still luckier than a fair many people; because he has his friends who are insistent on taking him out to live life whilst it’s still liveable.
So this friend takes his very ill pal out to do what they both enjoy most; hunting with their dogs in their jeep.
Here is where the video begins.
A shakily held camera (a shakily held camera is forgivable considering cancer) atop the jeep, Aussie outback whizzing past and distressed calls of the men looking for their dogs which appear to have disappeared.
As it turns out, they had a fear of what had become of their hounds, and the fear was confirmed.
The motor pulls to a stop and a man, the friend, leaps down and begins walking towards what we can now see; a large dog in the unfriendly embrace of a very large Grey Kangaroo (‘the big kind’).
The man is walking towards the two animals with manly purpose; and here’s why that’s brave.
A Grey Kangaroo is about 5-feet-something tall and filled with testosterone and all the muscly meat that entails.
Have you ever seen a shaved chimp? Whilst casually reaching for a banana you’ll see their arms ripple with all sorts of unnecessary-yet-insisted-upon-by-nature muscles, and a kangaroo is no different.
In a permanent ‘look at my muscles’ pose, a lone male Grey Kangaroo is highly aggressive and will happily consider your garden as it’s new pot to piss in.
Along with this, the kangaroo is deadly owing to one weapon in its arsenal; the tail.
Usually seen as a mere aid to its hopping about the wilderness, it is in fact like a crocodile’s tail; filled with muscle and unyielding bone, not prehensile but it’ll make you apprehensile (but only if you’ll excuse poor puns) when you discover it’s trick.
When fighting, kangaroos might look as though they are indulging in a bitchy little face pushing fight, with scratching being the order of the day, but this is not the end all. For the deadly strike, the kangaroo will lean back on it’s bewilderingly now-leg-like tail (currently holding its entire bodyweight) and proceed to kick out with its legs into the abdomen of the opponent.
Picture a tripod bouncing across the Australian landscape, only you didn’t realise this until too late and now its going to involve that third leg most unfairly in a fight.
The force breaks bone, and should claw catch flesh: the belly can easily be carried off and away.
To tackle this takes guts, as it is your ‘guts’ that can also quickly be staining your bush shoes and the kangaroo’s toes.
That is what this man is walking towards, with oh-so-perfect a purpose.
The kangaroo sees the approaching Aussie male, and let’s the dog escape (with which it appreciatively flees).
The man is now right up to the kangaroo, and there is a hell of a lot of testosterone in the air this afternoon.
He and the kangaroo both square up, with the Roo bulking out and the man shaking loose like Bruce Lee as he adapts to a boxing pose.
And then, the man promptly puts his hand though the kangaroo’s chin.
Through it’s chin.
Like UTTER BUTTER.
And I’m standing up and yelling “YEEEESSSS” at this, in my cosy bedroom at home, thousands of miles away and two weeks later.
The kangaroo waves is arms in pathetic yet vital little spirals in effort to keep balanced whilst it leans back dependently on its deadly secret weapon of a third leg.
The look on its face is of be-fucking-whilderment.
It does not have the processing skills demanded of it now to understand the tuned ability of this incredible species: humanity.
Exactly how to stand so as to generate adequate power for the punch, precisely where to aim and land the blow through the now-since-buttery chin of the kangaroo, and the compassion of heart to not have your mate’s trip spoiled by the loss of another great friend to our species: dogs.
The kangaroo is entirely and irrevocably undone by the chap’s species, his knuckles and his good form.
The standing up for your species and your mates is the pinnacle of what we should be spending our time doing and this could not have been better (like BUTTER) exemplified here.
Kangaroo defeated, humanity the victor, this Australian man nods his head in appreciation of the occasion (“Yeah.” would fit well here) turns, and walks away, back to his dog and his mate to enjoy the rest of their trip together.
My hero and yours.
The statement is ultimate.
The next time we have a chance do this this it might be Aliens…so get your shit together, do some push-ups and hug your mates.
Well done sir; bravo humanity.
Video here: http://youtu.be/FIRT7lf8byw
(Disclosure: A kangaroo WAS mildly hurt during the making of the article, but it was being a bully dick and deserved it.)
This November of 2014, in the usual early run-up to the Christmas advertising frenzy (and I do mean ‘frenzy’- this term referring to the rushed absurdity prevalent in promoting the push), there have been the regular additions to the regrettable art form.
These have included the rather sublime idea of inserting a penguin into the scheme of things- meaning that sheer adorability is prevailing as it should not (when the panda’s gone- you really won’t care compared to the loss of your hair, or democracy). Thank you John Lewis.
Another has been the suggestion of ‘Christmas Dinner Tables Across The Nation’- with a cleverly-cut panning shot along several dinner tables- suggesting that Christmas is a time to be around the dinner table eating ‘our’ products with the people you care about, and that if you’re not– then something’s very wrong with you as you’re not part of our advert. Thank you Aldi.
Then Sainsbury’s did something for which I hate them.
And let’s not confuse ourselves with some minor definition, as though I find their actions really rather awkward for me to watch, possibly even to the point of annoyance.
I refer to hate of the romantic kind. I now detest the supermarket brand with a power inconceivable to those persons without any serious genital damage. After another fashion- I hate Sainsbury’s as though they sort to make profit from tales of the actions of my terribly-late ancestors.
The Christmas Day Truce- 1914
On the 24th of December, 1914, a century ago this year, there was a tragically temporary and soul-shakingly inspiring truce between the war-devastated men of Germany, France and Britain for several hours.
The Christmas Day Truce, as it came to be known, began as the realisation of the time of year dawned upon the entrenched soldiers in some field in northern France.
Hearing the German troops singing, the soldiers of all sides came to know that though different words were being sung in strange accents, they were in fact being sung to a comfortingly familiar tune.
There was a great deal of carolling across No Man’s Land on this day.
Time passed, and eventually a German soldier clambered from his hole in the ground, to stand tall as though as natural a thing as breathing-in deeply on a beautiful day, and began calling to the opposing side.
Startling courage, and utterly heart-breaking, when considering the likelihood of murder in the process.
The French and British slowly climbed from their own hellish holes, to stand as men in greeting a friendly neighbour they’d been sharing the same few square meters of land with for the past many weeks.
What followed was a mass evacuation of all trenches, as the soldiers walked through No Man’s Land, to meet their brethren on Christmas Day. The beginning few minutes of awkward niceties gave way to utter unity between all men there, with football being played (score unknown to us and probably debated by those in the know), barbers attending to all customers- no matter the language of their home, and exchanges of gifts, laughter and honest thoughts of the war that each nation’s generals would have ordered execution upon those “stirring up trouble”.
It was fear of this latter aspect of the day, as well as a grotesque concern that the men would not fit back to fighting well following such jovial meetings as football and spirits in No Man’s Land.
Therefore, as the light began to fail, troops from both sides were ordered to return to their trenches; the Truce was over.
Soon after, those troops involved in the Truce were replaced with battle-ready troops fiercely instilled hatred for their opposing nation’s mankind.
The war continued. Several years, and several million deaths down the cold and lonely road, the war came to an end.
The Truce of Christmas Day in 1914, however, was not forgotten.
It was remembered, as it is to this day, as a shining definition of humanity.
The men on that day made a choice, in the midst of horror, chaos and the ugly-probability that your most proximate friend would suddenly explode, to disobey orders and to lay down their arms, shake hands, exchange pleasantries and play football.
Haircuts and fears of not returning home. Madness of war was put aside by some outstandingly courageous men, so as to demonstrate unity as a species.
Note also that this was no event of Christianity ‘poking’ through the fog. This was humanity arching over No Man’s Land, certainly singing Christian hymns, but uniting over circumstance and shared traditions of their homes and their current circumstance across the continent.
They united in hope against our thus-far perpetual insanity of leaders in war, and that is not forgotten.
And this…THIS…is where Sainsbury’s needs to fuck off and read a book.
The Sainsbury’s Foul Forgery
The Sainsbury’s Christmas advert shows handsome, clean and apparently un-embattled men missing their loved ones at home, whilst they sit in a fairly well-kept trench.
One of them opens a care package from home to find a photograph of his best girl back home, and a fucking huge bar of SAINSBURY’s chocolate.
He smiles this tedious little Mona Lisa smile to demonstrate that he’s handsome and just like you…you cute little consumer you.
The hymns are then sung, followed by a BRITISH troop emerging from the trench first, to wish a Merry Christmas to the Germans.
Note, just fucking-well note, that in the Sainsbury’s forgery it is a British soldier to emerge first from the trench. This is historically inaccurate, but having a German being brave and leading the noble way probably wouldn’t have sold so well.
Nor would having the French present either, as no French are apparent throughout.
I feel that either Sainsbury’s doesn’t do business in Germany and France, or that this advert simply won’t be aired there.
From here on the handshaking is shown, the barber giving shaves is displayed, as is the famous game of football.
The day, as in history, comes to an end, and the two sides go back to their holes in in the ground.
A German soldier climbs back down his trench ladder and places his hands in his pocket. In there he finds a fucking huge bar of SAINSBURY’s chocolate.
Then something appears on the screen.
It is a logo.
It is a brand logo.
It says…SAINSBURY’S. #Christmasisforsharing
The revulsion was hard to fight through as I made efforts to vocalise my anger.
Branding The Christmas Truce by Sainsbury’s
In this advertisement Sainsbury’s have taken an astonishing example of humanity in history, in which men laid down their arms to shake hands, have haircuts and play football in the midst of the horror and chaos of war, and Sainsbury’s have smeared their logo over it- claiming this historical event for their own and inserting their own definition of the event over the top.
The meaning of the Christmas Day Truce, in the eyes of Sainsbury’s is: “Buy our shit. We’ve just played a touching piece of historically inaccurate footage prior to our brand name…so buy our shit.
Taking a truly inspiring historical event and smashing their brand name into it is the worst advertising I can think of. Those men that laid down arms to shake hands and play football that day, to later live or die, have been USED by Sainsbury’s to sell turkeys.
Can you think of a time when a company has perpetrated a lowlier act?
This is typical Association Advertising- the motion of airing a piece of footage, often totally un-relatable to the company paying for it, and then ramming a brand/product name on the end of it in the hope that the viewer will remember the name whilst enjoying the emotion instigated by the footage.
This is weak, uncreative, and in this case- thievery.
The Charity Effect- The Buying Of A License To Sell
There are those in favour of the advert.
There are those that feel that since Sainsbury’s are donating a portion of their Christmas profits to a charity dedicated to serving those suffering from the effects of war, that this is all therefore tolerable and decent.
The monetary amount donated to charity is not comparable to the amount of money Sainsbury’s will be making this Christmas.
The effect of the money donated is that Sainsbury’s have bought a licence to brand the historic event with their own name and to play with the facts and the heart of the tale in favour of selling their own Christmas products.
Sainsbury’s here are flogging the cuteness of the humanity out of the Truce so as to flog products. Flogging to flog, as it were.
If Sainsbury’s were donating money purely for the sake of commemorating the Truce and donating money to charity, then they wouldn’t put their brand name on it.
A beautiful event in history has been stolen to sell Christmas products.
It is in no way respecting the event- it’s about nothing but profit- otherwise they WOULD NOT HAVE DONE IT.
Sainsbury’s wouldn’t hashtag #christmasissharing, they wouldn’t put their name in the commercial and they wouldn’t alter historical facts for any reason other than to use the event for profit.
“The Christmas Day Truce- brought to you by Sainsbury’s two for one Christmas Crackers and Party Food.” Eeeew.
This is nothing but the most cheap and lowly thievery of an inspirational event that belonged to all of us…and still does.
From Here Onward
Now, I am extremely hurt by Sainsbury’s- but that is irrelevant.
I do not want that advert banned, nor do I wish to receive an apology from Sainsbury’s supermarkets.
However, I do feel that due is an apology to those simple men whose actions prior to their deaths have inspired people around the world for 100 years, and whose deaths Sainsbury’s have used to encourage greed and profit.
I will no longer enter a Sainsbury’s as I can Taste the Difference in morals here and there is a distinct muddiness that goes even deeper than that on the boots of the boys in their holes.
All that is left is to remember that the Christmas Day Truce is ours- being as it is a beautiful example of dignified humanity that must be taught to all. No generation must suffer to go without this essential demonstration of unity in the face of dictated madness.
And no company can claim what belongs to us all.
The Christmas Day Truce is OURS. And we will never forget it.