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Motor Mouth articles 2009

Present tense at Christmas

HOW can it be coming up to Christmas again? I’ve hardly finished moaning about what a rotten summer we had, scarcely got used to the autumn leaves smashing into the ground and suddenly the P-word raises its head again – yes, presents.

Where did 2009 go? If we’re homing in on the season of ill-will and glittery things, presumably there’s another new year in the offing, too, and all that lang syne business and resolutions that accompany it.

Yes, I know what Christmas is supposed to be about: being with loved ones. Thinking generous thoughts about peace and goodwill. Doing kindnesses and spreading the milk of human something or other. And Jesus and carols and sleigh bells.

But it’s not, is it? It’s about blowing money you don’t have on stuff no-one needs; it’s about overindulging and splitting your trousers; watching your nearest and dearest bicker and grumble, people being sick on the pavements, and having to kiss some zit-infested colleague under a lump of drooping mistletoe.

I don’t much like Christmas.

I suppose it’s ok if you’re into all the religious bits or if your relatives are pleasant and you enjoy their company, or if you’re so disgustingly, stonking loaded that you can afford to go away somewhere quiet, luxurious and warm until it’s all over.

In the wacky world of motoring, it means not going within sniffing distance of alcohol lest the breath squad nab you. It means being alert for jaywalking drunks. And it means bracing yourself to receive an amusing novelty gift from people who don’t know you well enough to think of anything better.

I had a look round to see what’s available so that I can prepare for the inevitable and, maybe, dive in first and buy something suitably tasteless for someone else. There’s a mountain of possibilities being laid out for our delectation this Christmas. I hardly know where to begin.

There are calendars and key rings, scarves, ties and braces, mugs and socks and thermometers; there are model cars and clocks and sports bags; there are posters and pictures and you can even buy bronze busts of motor-racing legends, even though they all look like Julius Caesar.

More attractive still, there are the combination items – key fobs with built-in clocks, for instance. And gear-knob pens with matching cuff-links. I wonder which marketing guru decided that pens and cuff-links were natural partners, like ice-cream and beetroot.

My request note to Santa would be a list of the latest supercar releases and I’d give the bearded one a free hand to choose which one. I quite like the Lamborghini Reventón Roadster. And the Ferrari 458 Italia. An Aston Martin V12 Vantage would be acceptable, or a McLaren MP4-12C. The Maserati GranCabrio would definitely brighten up Christmas morning in the Mouth house.

Most of all, though, I’d like to settle down to sleep tonight and wake up to find it was the middle of January and all the festivities were over. The decorations had been re-boxed, the inevitable illnesses were in retreat and spring was on the way. That’s when the future would be more desirable than the presents.

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