I Know, I Know, I’m Miserable by Paul Featherstone

Sigh. Do you ever feel just totally disconnected from your fellow man? That you are just down-trodden and furrowed of brow, whilst everyone else floats along on a candy-floss cloud of simple pleasures?

I ask because we now have this curious phenomenon of supermarket Christmas adverts being “events.” Is this something that has been brought about by the “buzz” that social media can now bring about or is it simply that sites such as Facebook have simply exposed how utterly ridiculous mankind has become in this century? I will touch on the latter in another article, but a quick glimpse of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube et al would suggest that yes indeed, these are now considered something of a modern art form.

My Facebook feed exploded last week as it lavished praise on Sainsbury’s effort and how it had won this years “Battle Of The Christmas Adverts”. Honestly, hand to God, it was as though it was the name in an Oscars envelope. All the while though, I wondered exactly how as general public we had come to this point where people eagerly await the adverts from each firm like teens in line for the next Twilight flick?

Approximately 90% of the Xmas adverts I have seen this year don’t even tell me what products the company is selling and at what price? It’s almost as though I am just expected to blindly walk into the store that I think spunked the most money up a wall to wow me with their advert, in the blind hope that represents how cheap Quality Street tins will be there.

One can only presume that there is the hope that if they don’t feature any actual food on their adverts, then the customer cannot be angry when they find that they have accidentally served Shergar’s head in place of a Turkey in some kind of grim reconstruction of The Godfather that involves little party hats and crackers.

Now, some may call me a cynical…nay….miserable bastard for having such a viewpoint, and of course they are right to an extent. However, look at it the other way. Maybe I’m just disappointed that Christmas has slowly been boiled down to this- a cartoon set to a fucking Keane cover, designed ultimately sell you vastly over priced products that Wonga will probably end up charging you 2876% to afford.

There is still so much good that can be reflected in humanity at Christmas, do we really need advertising executives essentially flogging us huge quantities of food to remind us that being kind to your fellow man is what is really important in this world?

To put it in perspective, I saw more outpouring of emotion about the madness of war and the sacrifice of soldiers who leave their families to serve their country after the end of the Sainsbury’s advert than I did on Remembrance Sunday. Do we actually need a visual representation of a soldier returning home rather than the memory of those who didn’t to remind us of the price of conflict?

All of it, heart-tugging and a Trojan horse to deliver the seed of coming to buy, buy, buy. Don’t fall for it. I have come to expect better of you, dear reader. Slowly but surely the public had become gloriously cynical and was making companies jump through hoops to get their custom as the recession bit.

Now this, as viewers salivate and coo over the kind images of bunnies and kids opening presents the oldest trick in the book has sucked them all back in. I want to believe that it’s all a big celebration of the magic of Christmas but come on, it’s not.

It’s yet more of the romance and beauty of life just being sold and dressed up in a cocktail frock to be prostituted for a quick bit of cash.

As I say, that may make me sound like a Scrooge, but who believes in the magic of Christmas more? Me, who would rather firms just sell me their cheap food at Christmas so that I have more money to buy the gift that puts a huge smile on someone’s face and lets them know I love them or the person who thinks it’s okay to turn selling products into It’s A Wonderful Life?

Bah, Humbug indeed.

Paul FeatherstonePaul Featherstone is 31 years old and lives in Hull. Most people call him “Fev.” He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of football and music and uses the word “c*nt” far too much in everyday conversation. He spends a lot of his time blagging his way into celebrity parties. He is to be commended for once meeting Jo Whiley and refraining from beating her to death with a big stick. You can read more of his vitirolic comments on http://twitter.com/FevTheRevoff

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This Women’s Work (part 2)…. By Vicky Taylor

mart and vicky

10:30 AM – Martyn rolled in at 10 o’clock last night pissed up. So as punishment I woke him up him up early so we can go shopping, Ha Ha! He told me he was only going out for 2 or 3 pints and he came home steaming! Why is he putting them sunglasses on? He looks daft, and besides, its not even sunny.

10:35 AM – Thank god we’re nearly there, the car stinks of stale booze, maybe I should’ve driven. The kids, sensing Mart’s tender head, have started to take advantage and are playing up. The traffic lights are changing so I’ll have a chance to calm them down. Hang on, he’s going for it. WOOH! that was close, too close when the kids are in the car. I give him my ‘Calm the fuck down’ look and he has the nerve to have a go at me!

10:40 AM – At least we’re here at Sainsbury’s now. Why is he parking all the way over here when there are all them spaces near the store? Oh yeah, someone opened their car door onto his last week and left a mucky mark. This better not be a permanent habit. I tell him if it rains I better not get wet. He strolls off pretending not to hear me. Wanker!

10:45 AM – Mart gets the trolley and gives it to me. I head straight to get some veg for dinner tomorrow. I turn around to ask Mart to get some spuds, where the hell is he and where are the boys? I bet they are looking at the shitty X-box games. Oh well, I’ll get the veg myself and make that twat cook it tomorrow.

10:50 AM – Oh good they’re back. Just in time for me to show him the meat he’s gonna be cooking tomorrow. I tell him he is cooking it but he seems distracted. Then I realise what has his attention. Walking towards us is a trampy looking woman in a skimpy outfit. Mart’s jaw nearly hits the ground. Could he stare any harder at her? He looks like a puppy dog with his tongue hanging out, perv!

10:57 AM – Martyn throws 3 cans of lentil soup in the trolley, who the hell eats that shit? I ask him if we need some beans. He looks at me like I’m thick, but he was the one cooking beans on toast at 11 o’clock last night while pissed. He tosses two cans in sarcastically, I ignore him and walk on.

11:03 AM – Martyn is letting the kids run riot down the sweet aisle. They all grab hands full of sweets to eat at movie night tonight. Marts been bugging me to get him ‘The Karate Kid’ to watch with the boys. He is happy I got it from town the other day. He thinks I bought the original version, but I got the remake that the boys wanted with Jackie Chan in.

11:12 AM – Is he really getting more beer? Didn’t he drink enough last night? What’s he doing now? him and the boys are fighting, I knew I shouldn’t have got a kung-fu movie. People are starting to stare, how embarrassing!

11:16 AM – Mart grabs a drink off the shelf and only bloody opens it and starts guzzling it down! He sputters something, puts the lid on and puts it in the basket. I work here, the last thing I need is to be arrested for shop lifting again.

11:18 AM – Gracie is pestering Martyn for something. Mart picks her up and starts throwing her around. I tell him she has just had a full bottle of milk in the car. My warnings fall on deaf ears. He carries on and she spews on the floor. Mart just looks at it and walks off. I can’t leave it so I clean it up.

11:27 AM – Mart tells the kids to sit down while he packs, I load the grub onto the belt. I do it all tidy so its easy to pack away. What, just what is he doing? Could he mash that loaf of bread up any more? Slob!

11:31 AM – I pay for the shopping, with Mart’s debit card of course (which will be a nice surprise for him later). I get the kids together and head out. Great, its pissing it down! I warned him. he runs with the trolley hollering something back. Just then, BEEEEEPPPP! A car nearly hits him. Ha Ha! He should’ve parked closer!

Get Martyn’s take on this trip to Sainsbury’s here.

This Man’s Day (part 2)… By Martyn Taylor

mart and vicky

10:30 AM – Why do I do this to myself? Its bad enough having to go shopping on a Saturday morning, but to make things worse, I’m nursing a hangover after 8 pints in the pub last night. Vicky seems in a mood as well, I’ve no idea why. I’m not about to ask her why either, she’ll bite my head off. Christ! That sun’s bright, its like needles in my retinas, better put my shades on.

10:35 AM – Nearly there now, just this set of lights to make it through and we’re there. The kids are starting to play up in the back, which is doing my hangover no favours. Hang on, the lights have changed to amber. Fuck it! I’m going for it. Made it. Vic gives me a look. I tell her if she doesn’t like it she can drive home.

10:40 AM – At the car park now. Some twat dinked my door when I was here last week, so I’m gonna park at the back where nobody ever parks. Its a 2 minute walk to the Sainsbury’s but its worth it to keep my car safe. Vicky goes on about how the weather is going to change later, but I ain’t listening.

10:45 AM – I get the trolley and we make our way into the shop. Vic takes the trolley and goes down for some veg. Me and the boys go down the magazine aisle for a flick through the mags.

10:50 AM – We catch up to the wife, she’s picking some meat for Sunday dinner, she tells me we’re having pork. I hear her but my attention is drawn down the aisle. A cracking looking bird is walking towards us. I play it cool and catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye. She has brown hair, a short skirt and a tight white top. The chill of the fridge has made her nips stand up a wee bit. Its funny how much you can pick up in a glance.

10:57 AM – Down the tinned food aisle I throw a few cans of soup in. Vic asks if we need any beans. How the hell do I know? She cooks the god damn dinners. I toss a couple in and look at her as if to say ‘Is that enough?’ She just rolls her eyes and walks off.

11:03 AM – Down the sweet aisle the boys and Gracie run off to choose some goodies for our DVD night tonight. Vic said we could watch ‘The Karate Kid’ which I’ve been nagging to watch because its one of my favourites from the 80’s.

11:12 AM – I throw a 6 pack in the trolley while down the beer aisle. They boys are playing up ahead, I’ll show them who the real karate kid is. I run up to Lewis and deliver a Mawashi-Geri-Tudan to his head (just playing of course). Then me and Harrison recreate the famous ‘crane-kick finisher’ from ‘The Karate Kid’. Vicky shows her displeasure with a ‘TUT’

11:16 AM – I’m thirsty, so I grab a Lucozade off the shelf and have a swig, ‘That’s better’ I say as I put it in the trolley. Vicky gives me daggers, I tell her to chill out as I’m going to pay for it.

11:18 AM – Gracie is nattering for a biscuit, so I scoop her up and twirl her around ballroom dancing style. She seems happy so I carry on. I maybe went a bit too far with it as she has done a little bit of throw-up on the floor. ‘Whoops’ I say as Vic cleans it up with a baby wipe.

11:27 AM – At the till the kids sit on a bench as I take charge of the packing. My hangover is really kicking in now so my usual tidy packing turns into chaos as I rush to get the grub into the bags.

11:31 AM – Vicky pays for the shopping, which is nice of her. We make our way out, and its only started to bloody spit. I run off with the trolley towards the back of the car park shouting ‘Don’t forget you’re driving.’ I over-run the path and a car nearly knocks me over. Fuck! I wish I’d’ve parked closer now.

See this shopping trip through Vicky’s eyes here.