The research centre of nursery rhymes

mice

“Thanks for coming down to our facility, Mrs Dee Point,” the elderly gentleman began, as he gestured her into the workroom.  “I’m Professor Noel Ivan Deer. We would get you some water, but we sent our researchers Jack and Jill up the hill to get some earlier and… well, you wouldn’t think it the hardest thing in the world but poor Jack’s now got a fractured skull.”

“My goodness!” Mrs Point remarked, evidently alarmed by how frantically she was scribbling this down in her notes. “So he’s gone to hospital?”

“With those waiting times in A&E?!” exclaimed Professor Deer. “No, we’ve sent him upstairs with vinegar and brown paper.”

“But…” Mrs Point was thrown for a moment. “Surely that will never work?”

“Well, you’d think so, but that is what we do! Jack’s misfortune has blossomed into a beautiful opportunity for us! Our facility is dedicated to solving the mysteries of nursery rhymes. Restoring the eyesight of the three blind mice was just the beginning! We’re asking the important questions like: why do the bells of St Clements owe five farthings to the bells of St Martins? Why does Aiken Drum live in the moon? Why does the little boy who lives down the lane need a bag of wool from Baa Baa Black Sheep? Sounds to me like that poor chap is being worked than rightfully so for a lad of his years!”

“And what have you found overall?”

“Well Mrs Point, there is an awful lot of jumping in the world of nursery rhymes. Jack jumps over the candlestick, the cow jumps over the moon…”

“And have you found a reason for this, Professor Deer?”

“Not yet, but surely there must be one.”

“So have you achieved anything of value?”

“Well, we’ve found Bo Peep’s sheep, we’ve helped the King’s Men put Humpty Dumpty back together again, and we’ve got our fingers crossed for Jack, otherwise poor Jill’s going to be devastated.”

Suddenly the door opened, and in came a second elderly gentleman. “Ah Doctor Foster! How was Gloucester?”

“Terrible weather, you should see the puddles! I’m never going there again,” grumbled the doctor. “But have you heard the news? London Bridge is falling down!”

“Falling down!” exclaimed Mrs Point.

“Falling down! London bridge is falling down, my fair lady,” said the Doctor.

Sensing something was not quite right, Mrs Point pondered “hang on, is it really falling down, or did you set that up just so the nursery rhyme would work?”

“Are you suggesting all of this is just an elaborate set up for us to make bad jokes using nursery rhymes?!” blustered Professor Deer. “That’s ridiculous! What’s for lunch, Doctor?” he suddenly asked as casually as he could.

“Well, I did catch a fish alive, but then I threw it back again.”

“Why did you let it go?”

“Because it bit…”

“Oh for goodness sake!” shouted Mrs Point. “You’re grown men. Not every nursery rhyme, or any song for that matter, has a literal, deeper philosophical meaning.”

“Heavens, you’re right,” said Professor Deer. “Marry me my dear, we’d be perfect together!”

“Well, as creepy as that is, I have to decline; I’m waiting on my love forevermore bonny Bobby Shafto who’s gone to sea.”

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Reacting to the news…

newspaper

Seeing his wife Monica fighting back the tears, Eric grabbed her by the ponytails and held her head gently. He’d been dying to get home ever since he’d heard the news. “Can you believe it Monica?” he whispered to her.

“I can’t,” Monica sniffed, dabbing at her eyes. “Ever since they made the announcement, the world just doesn’t seem real anymore.”

“How did you hear about it?” Eric asked. He couldn’t quite believe it himself. No one seemed happy by the news; no one had ever truly wanted such a thing to happen.

“In the canteen at work,” Monica replied. “I don’t know why it affected me so much, but I just had to come home.”

“I don’t blame you,” Eric mused. “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to suggest that this truly feels like the end of the world.” He held his face in his hands for a minute, before rubbing his eyes as he stared at his TV. There was nothing on, just a blank screen. “How do you think people will react?”

“There’ll be revolts up and down the country,” Monica replied without hesitation. “No shadow of a doubt. People won’t stand for it. No one ever thought it actually would happen in the first place. To be honest, I think it would be a good idea for us to stop doing anything until we can figure out what the hell is going on.”

Eric was on his feet now, pacing the room as if trying to diffuse some great bundle of energy inside him. “Perhaps…” he pondered, as though what he was trying to say was bold and daring, and he was hesitant to speak it. “Perhaps it might be a good thing. Change can be good for the world.”

“Not like this,” said Monica flatly. “This feels like the wrong kind of change to me. I mean, think what this could inspire within people. They see this happening, they suddenly think that their radical notions aren’t quite so radical anymore. Where do we go from there?”

“I don’t know what we’ll tell the kids,” sighed Eric. “Do well at school, by the book that binds us all… and for what reward? When something like this can happen?”

Monica gripped him by the hands and stared deep into her eyes. “Don’t worry my love,” he reassured her. “We’ll still teach them what is right. This won’t change them one bit.”

They both sat down and stared straight ahead, still taking it all in. “I still can’t believe it though,” Eric wandered aloud.

“Yeah. Whoever thought they’d reduce the size of Toblerone? What kind of world do we live in where such a thing is possible?”

“Whatever happens, we’ll always have the Quality Street. They can’t take that away from us.”

Hoping for a change of tone, Eric reached for the remote. On flicked the latest news.

“Holy shit,” he gasped.

“I can’t believe it,” Monica’s hands were covering her eyes.

“The John Lewis Christmas advert,” they said together.

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“A Tweet Too Far,” or “The Woes of Stubborn Rail’s Social Media Manager”

railway-desolate

TICKET OFFICE

“So tell me,” said Lucy, breathing heavily with the resigned attitude of someone who has been asking the same question all day, “Why do you want to be the social media manager for Stubborn Rail?”

Gary’s smile was almost bursting with enthusiasm. He’d debated wearing a vibrant bottle green tie with pictures of different train designs to highlight his passion, but he’d refrained, rather reluctantly. Instead, he was wearing an aqua blue tie covered in hashtags, with a Twitter logo towards the top. He’d debated not wearing that one either, but in the end he thought it was best to wear a tie and look professional.

“Well… I remember the first time I saw a train,” Gary remarked. “I thought to myself, “I like that.” I also remember the first time I saw Twitter on my friend’s phone, and I thought, “I like that.” Then I saw Stubborn Rail’s account and you know what I thought? I love that.”

He spoke with the pace of a train pulling into its final platform. Lucy smiled, partly because she couldn’t help but admire the sentiment he was aiming towards, but also as it was bemusing to imagine a wave of affection towards a social media page.

“You realise how much responsibility you would have?” Lucy replied, her eyebrows slightly raised. “How many services we run, the hundreds of thousands of followers that rely on our updates? It’s a lot to get into 140 characters.”

Gary took a deep breath. In his mind, he envisioned running onto a platform and boarding a train just as the doors were closing. This was his make or break moment.

“Look Lucy, I’ve managed plenty of social media accounts in the past. Give me a few words and I’ll give you a great hashtag. But you know what I also know? Your service map inside out. How many carriages there are on your peak services. I even know which carriages have those power sockets with the signs warning they are not for public use. And you know why I know these things, Lucy?” At this point, he stood up, thrusting out his aqua blue social media tie as he did.

“Because I care about Stubborn’s train services. I’m a huge believer in public transport. I don’t want to provide just a service to your customers, I want to provide an experience. I’m not just Gary Buffer. I am all-change; the change, that YOU all need to your service.”

Lucy smiled again. It was the second time she had smiled that day, second time she had smiled that week, second time she had smiled that month. Stubborn Rail were all about efficiency; time for smiling was rare. He was easily the best candidate she’d had all day; one of the applicants had never even been on a train, and didn’t realise there was such a thing as “first class.” She stood up and held her hand out to him, like she was helping him onto a carriage. “Welcome aboard, Gary.”

DEPARTURE

Three weeks later, and Gary was slumped at his computer screen. There were just so many complaints. He’d had no idea of the mess he was getting himself into. He’d always worked from home before, so he rarely had to use trains regularly, and never at peak times. He’d never felt so depressed; all of the cancellations in front of him, and there was nothing he could do. Shockingly, the life of a social media manager was not as glamorous as he had expected.

He’d never realised just how much hate could be fitted into 140 characters. He couldn’t even remember the last time he saw a nice tweet. But what made it worse was that he had to personally sign on at the start of each shift, so now he was being singled out as the source of all the commuter’s woes. The insults were getting worse and worse; admittedly some were very creative, but others were borderline sadistic. He’d started a tally of how many users wanted to tie him down to the train tracks.

He was so busy wallowing in his despair that he didn’t even notice his line manager Elliot wandering over. “Bad news I’m afraid,” he said in a voice so nonchalant it made you wonder how bad the news could really be. “Temporary shortage of train crew again at Clapham Junction. Who would have thought it? Schedule some reminders over the next couple of hours.”

Breathing in deeply, Gary readied himself for the barrage of abuse that was about to greet him. His fingers were shaking as he raised them to the keyboard. Sweat began to pour down his face as he stared at his screen; his whole body was beginning to shake. His index struggled towards the first key… but he couldn’t. He turned to Elliot and looked him defiantly in the eyes.

“Is… isn’t there anything else we can do?”

Elliot had to hide his disbelief. His army of tweeters had never questioned his orders before; they just typed.

“Well, I’m afraid not. There is simply not enough staff, not to mention the signal faults further up the line.”

“But what does that even mean?!” demanded Gary, his voice getting stronger with every word. “Engineering works, signal faults, temporary shortage of train crews… these are just phrases bandied about! They have no significance to the everyday commuter!”

He was on his feet now. Most of the office had stopped what they were doing to watch him. Elliot was shuffling awkwardly, quickly glancing around at the bemused expressions across each workstation. “Now Gary, I think you’re being a little over-dramatic.”

“Oh am I?!” Gary spluttered, his eyes popping at the accusation. “I just want some positivity, for once! Is that too much to ask?! I mean seriously, can you remember when trains used to actually run on time? I bet people who haven’t even heard of our company think that we’re useless! It makes me wonder why we’re even running trains at all!”

Elliot was doing his best to remain calm. He had always taken his line manager training very seriously, and one of the underlying principles was never to lose your temper. So he smiled through gritted teeth and asked “well then Gary, seeing as you’re obviously an expert on the operation of railways, what would be your solution?”

“Hire more staff!” Gary proclaimed, raising his arms like this was the most obvious thing in the world. “Get more people out there on the rails! People like trains, people like driving, people can drive trains!”

Elliot laughed timidly, daring not to be too audible less his suppressed rage manifest itself in some way. “Now Gary, you know perfectly well that we can’t just send more people out on the track. We haven’t got enough staff. Where do you suppose these people are going to come from?”

His forced smile suddenly faltered at the mad glint in Gary’s eye. “Maybe…” Gary began, now pacing back and forth. “Maybe… WE could drive the trains!”

Elliot’s smile had now completely collapsed. But his anger had vanished too, replaced by a growing anxiety. Where had this freewheeling radical of a social media manager come from?

“Now Gary, be reasonable. There’s no logic in that kind of thinking. We’re not train drivers, for God’s sake! We’re tweets. We’re hashtags. We’re the soul of new marketing! We ride timelines, not train tracks. Whoever heard of a social media manager driving a train? In this day and age?!”

“But the commuters Elliot! They’re not just angry tweeters in suits and jackets! They’re real, living people that need to get home! We can help them do that! Every time it’s a temporary shortage, but WE can turn that all around!”

“But then who will post our updates Gary?” retorted Elliot, his checkmate response. “Twitter needs tweets. Our audience needs the latest information. You say these commuters are real, living people? Give them what they want- the most efficient announcements known to man!”

“We could do it while driving the trains! You’re the one always telling us to multitask, have you any idea how impressed people would be by a workforce that could send a tweet while driving a train?!” The whole office was captivated by Gary’s performance; it was arguably the most inspirational speech a social media manager had ever given.

“Well maybe one day Gary, but today is not that day. I expect to see that update on our timeline shortly,” said Elliot firmly. He was putting his line manager voice on now; this was not just a statement, it was a warning. He wanted things to return to normal, but as he returned to his desk, he couldn’t help glancing over his shoulder at Gary, who was now back at his computer, his face like shattered glass.

But Elliot was right; Gary was a social media manager, and that was that.

Until lunch break.

ARRIVAL

It wasn’t sandwiches on his mind for once: it was Stubborn Rail’s train depot. Such a stroke of luck that the site was only twenty minutes across town! No one batted an eyelid as he entered the depot; he had a staff badge, surely he was on official business. Common knowledge dictates that no one turns up at a train depot for the sheer hell of it. It was only when he tried to get one of the trains moving that suspicions were raised.

No one accelerates out of their starting position at THAT kind of speed. Security were running for the train, but no one could stop him. Somehow, Gary just knew how to drive a train. It felt like destiny. Before he knew it, he was heading for Clapham Junction, famous for constantly boasting about being “the UK’s busiest railway station,” an achievement that was as depressing as it was daunting.

He was nearly at a platform when they stopped him. He could have got those passengers home. He could have got them back on time. But somehow, conductors had managed to get onto the train, and suddenly the driver’s door was being forced open and a sea of whistles were being blown in his face. Gary would never control social media channels for a train operator again. He wouldn’t be allowed into a station for five years.

But hey, it could be worse. He could be commuting by train in 2016.

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The Great British Bake Off Referendum (#GBBOR)

baking-bird

It was an emergency meeting at the Council of Bakers, and Paul Hollywood was bashing his rolling pin on the table. Thankfully, Agent Mel and Agent Sue had arrived just in time to make a cheeky innuendo about it.

“Well!” gasped Mel. “I never thought I’d see the day that Paul Hollywood would get his rolling pin out in front of everyone.”

“I know!” responded Sue. “He clearly means business today.”

“Agent Mel and Agent Sue!” said Paul sharply. “I have just about had enough of your inappropriate innuendoes. Baking was a fine art before you started ruining it with your insinuations!”

“Ooh!” said Mary. “Look at the size of Sue’s buns!”

“NOT YOU TOO MARY! HOW COULD YOU?!” Paul roared, like an injured (bread) lion.

“Paul, I was just referring to the iced buns that Sue has bought along for the meeting,” Mary replied sternly. “I know you’re stressed out, but you need to remain calm. There’s no room for soggy bottoms around here.” She took a deep breath, steadying herself as she did so; it had been a manic couple of days, a real life technical challenge.

“First of all, thank you all for coming to this emergency meeting, and at such short notice. As past winners of Great British Bake Off you have all proven yourself to be important members of the Council of Bakers… Nadiya, and everyone else who came before, I can’t actually remember your names as it’s been so long but we still very much appreciate you coming.

“Now, the reason I have called you here is because the unthinkable has become a reality- the BBC has lost Great British Bake Off.”

There were audible gasps around the council table; it was Baked Alaska all over again.

“Channel 4 has put in a higher bid and won the rights to the programme. The reason we are telling you this is because we, as presenters and judges, have a very important decision to make. We want your advice in this crucial, once in a life time referendum: shall we remain with the programme, or shall we leave? Are we IN, or are we OUT?”

“Why not just let the public decide?” asked Mel.

“Yeah, I know we’re the ones that are part of the actual process, but this sounds like far too important a decision for us to make by ourselves,” Sue added.

“We did debate that, but what if it was a really close result?” reasoned Paul. “Our audience, united by so many things, suddenly split down the middle. Can you imagine the arguing? It would be too much to bear.”

“I believe we should leave!” A mysterious unknown baker had suddenly entered the room. He had a mess of blond hair, and a mad look in his eye.

“Sorry, but who are you?” asked Mary, trying her best to remain polite.

“I am Boris Chelsea Bunson!” declared the baker with great dramatic flair. “I’m one of those unknown bakers from one of the earlier series that you’ve probably forgotten all about. Now I know I have always professed a love for the company that produces our programme, but I say now that we should leave! Take back control… of our production!”

“Outrageous!” interjected Paul. “You just want to be the new head judge on the programme!”

“Nonsense!” Boris fired back. “I am more likely to be reincarnated as an olive-stuffed focaccia than to become head judge on this programme!”

“But have you really considered what it would be like if you were to leave?” spoke up Nadiya. “There is no certainty as to what would happen. We could lose our jobs! The ratings could slump. We are bakers. We should stick with what we know.”

“But Channel 4’s content is all about innovation, experimentation, creativity!” Boris retaliated. “The Great British Bake Off is quintessentially a BBC programme! The BBC has a long tradition of making programmes  that encapsulate our favourite hobbies and show off the best of British, like Strictly Come Dancing, and Crimewatch! If we can’t remain with the BBC, we should look to go elsewhere. We are a valued commodity in the world of television. They need us more than we need them!”

“Enough!” Paul raised his hands, and silence swept round the room. “To aid our discussion, I sent Agent Mel and Agent Sue to find out what will happen if we go to Channel 4. Agents, what have you found?”

“It’s a lot worse than we ever realised,” shuddered Mel. “They are already planning a spin off show called “Come Bake With Me,” where the contestants have to go round each other’s houses to try three courses of baked goods.

“There’s also rumours of a show called “Baked Attraction,” where contestants work out whether to go on dates with one another PURELY on their baking,” Sue added. “Can you imagine anything so objectifying?”

Both agents then looked at each other, and breathed in heavily. Bemused expressions flooded the room; something else was clearly wrong.

“It’s been a tough decision to make… but we feel this is one recipe we cannot follow. We’re stepping down from the show.”

They said this both in unison, tears slowly forming in their eyes as the council stared back with shocked expressions. Paul was the first to respond. “Surely this idea is half baked?”

“No, we’re not taking the pitta,” Mel replied. “Yeah, we’re scone for good. Doughnut try and stop us,” added Sue.

They both knew that deep down, Paul really did love the puns, and all of the other bakery-related wordplay. At that moment of staring into the brink of the unknown, there was only one thing you could say for certain; at least we’ll always have the innuendoes.

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The Fourth Blog Of Christmas: The Christmas Jumper Curiosity

me Christmas jumper

I never imagined that the festive season would ever be defined by a fashion trend, but then I never imagined a fashion trend like a Christmas jumper. No matter how serious someone’s demeanour may usually be, you cannot help but smile at the sight of a festive garment. I was trying out a new local micro-pub the other night, when half a dozen jolly fellows bundled in, all adorning bright bold knitwear with all kinds of winter characters bursting out of them. Heads turned, eyebrows raised, but ultimately the level of merriment was raised beyond that of just the alcohol levels.

I’m an old hand at this fashion trend; four years ago, determined to make the most of my first festive season at University, I chose myself a Christmas jumper. Mine’s considerably neutral compared to the majority you see; it’s not overly bright or with any weird knobbly bits or flashing lights. It’s just navy with hints of red and reindeer and snowflake patterns. Dare I say it, it’s one you would consider wearing on a regular basis throughout December, rather than just as a gimmick for the office party. When I casually bought it three years ago, I had no idea of the phenomenon it would soon become.

Every shop has them too, in every design possible; from the more conventional patterns to even one of a Great White Shark in a Santa hat, and festive parodies of popular culture (how about Drake’s “Hotline Bling” poses in knitted form?). It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by choice, although the other way to look at it is that finding one will never be a difficult task. There’s even a Christmas Jumper Day dedicated to raising money for charity through wearing the ridiculous garment. More than anything, it has to be one of the most unusual fashion trends to have sprung up in living memory.

It doesn’t rely on how the wearer looks, nor is it remotely concerned with achieving some degree of sexiness. Its only purpose is to make the wearer look like a festive numpty, and put a smile on the face of everyone around them. It yells peace and goodwill to all, and very loudly if you buy one of the more outrageous designs. Of course, I have met a few sceptics in the past, but incredibly these are now in a very small minority. Christmas cynics are being rejected for more Christmas cheer, something I wholeheartedly support, with some of my friends even buying multiple jumpers for the festive season.

While part of me wants to indulge further, I admit I feel to confined by the conventions of Christmas, which restrict wearing the jumper to one month a year. I say have one, but make it your own! Have one that is not only a guilty pleasure, but one you lament having to lock away after New Year’s Day. Have one for the days browsing the Christmas markets, or wobbling around the ice skating rinks, or whatever defines your Christmas period. Have one that captures your personality. Embrace the ridiculous nature of the garment; if nothing, it’ll put a smile on your face whenever you catch yourself in the mirror.

The Third Blog of Christmas: Dreaming Of A White Christmas?

White Christmas3

What does a smattering of snowflakes in the air mean to you? A vivid nostalgia for the festive season you used to know? Or perhaps the nightmare of every commuter? It’s very easy and incredibly optimistic to dream of a White Christmas, but a thick layer of snow flies in the face of order, as if this festive season wasn’t stressful enough. Let even a few snowflakes fall in this country and everything falls into chaos; schools close, work is called off and any form of travel is deemed impossible (unless undertaken in wellies and at a snail’s pace.

Maybe people just really want a day off. I remember being thrilled as a teenager if I woke up to see my garden blanketed by snow, and my school’s website was adorned with a “closed due to weather” warning covering every corner. For me, that roughly translated to “hey, take a day off to build a snowman, have a snowball fight with your sister and go sledging down East Court, because snowfall trumps education.” But for many of us, our first reaction is not awe at the glistening blizzard before us, but dismay at picturing the inevitable delays.

Is that a little bit sad, or just realistic? I reckon it’s both. If I’m honest myself, I would detest a White Christmas. On the big day itself, my family makes the pilgrimage to my aunt’s for Christmas dinner in a neighbouring village. It’s no more than 15 minutes in normal weather, but traversing up and over hills with a thick layer of snow in our way would prove impossible. Then you have the crowds who hastily travel home on Christmas Eve, wringing their hands at the sight of train delays or accidents on the motorway; a White Christmas just isn’t practical in 2015.

Maybe a White Boxing Day would be more practical, but it doesn’t have the same ring to it. Of course, everyone wants a picture perfect scene at Christmas, like the ones you see on the big screen. But when you see their faces mesmerized as dots of artificial white blobs descend on their set, you don’t hear their panicked thoughts of how on earth will they reach Great Auntie May to indulge in her brussel sprouts?Real life may not be as scenic, but if you put the effort in it can be just as memorable. I’m happy just imagining a White Christmas, because I think reality just wouldn’t be as joyful, no matter how pretty a Winter Wonderland scene is.

The Second Blog Of Christmas: What Christmas Films Mean To Me

Christmas DVDs 2

How do you rid the stresses that the festive season can bring and banish any depressing thoughts of the long nights ahead? Put on a Christmas film! It’s an instant mood lifter, lifting your spirits in a flash; I mean yeah, ice skating is fun and all, but sometimes you just want to sit back on the sofa, where the most effort you will face is choosing between chocolate and popcorn. (Or both. It’s the one time of year you can get away with it.)

Guides divulging the best Christmas films are constantly thrust upon us, so-called “definitive” lists that can amount to as many as twenty films; enough for nearly every day of the Christmas season depending on how long yours goes on for. Add to this numerous TV specials and suddenly you find yourself spending a lot of your December in front of the big screen, trying to squeeze each out every last drop of festive film magic.

That doesn’t mean you HAVE to watch them all though- there’s still several festive classics that I have yet to see, which means I have a couple of new treats to enjoy each year alongside my core collection. Winter is THE perfect time of year to stay in, when the weather outside is frightful, so why not embrace it? Rather than tell you why each film fits the festive season so perfectly, I thought I would include what each of my regular roster means to me.

 

The Muppet Christmas Carol

A couple of Christmases ago, I got a quaint copy of the classic novel by Charles Dickens in my stocking, and I’d polished it off by the time we set off to my aunts for Christmas dinner. It was interesting reading it with the context of the Muppets adaptation at the back of my mind, but what surprised me was just how faithful the The Muppet Christmas Carol is to the original text. Okay, there weren’t puppets strewn across Victorian London, but asides from that it remains a very faithful adaptation.

I know not everyone warms towards the Muppets, but I’ve always loved their unique, hearty form of comedy, and Michael Caine will always be my definitive Scrooge; he refuses to let his bitterness be overshadowed by the performers around him. It isn’t just a festive classic, but a sterling literary adaptation, and one that refuses to be restrained by the label of a children’s film. One of my old school friends even managed to devise a drinking game, and though I missed the chance to give my liver something to moan about, it reinforces to me how the movie works well for every occasion.

 

Home Alone

As my first university Christmas approached, many of my hall-mates were shocked that I had never seen Home Alone while growing up. This resulted in a large group of us watching it together when it first came on to TV screens, and now it’s a firm favourite of mine. It truly is Macaulay Culkin’s defining role; he can go from tugging at your heartstrings as your heart aches for the poor boy left behind, to putting you in stitches with his juvenile angst, as he pranks the bandits again and again.

What I love most about the pandemonium Kevin pursues is how brilliantly creative it is. Yes, Christmas is a time of year for celebrating, but it’s also one that encourages you to let your imagination run wild, to believe in optimistic myths and perfect winter scenes. Not only will Home Alone have you in stitches, it will stimulate your creativity, albeit the devilish side of it. One for the filthy animal in all of us.

 

Christmas DVDs 1

Miracle On 34th Street

I can’t remember exactly how old I was when my parents casually broke the news one summer evening about Santa (and if you’ve yet to have the news- don’t worry, it’s just about his delivery schedule). For some reason, I remember being particularly devastated while my sister casually shrugged her shoulders. It’s not as if I believed every department store Santa was really the big man himself, but I still clung on to the belief that Father Christmas was out there somewhere. Plus the notion of a job where you only really work one day of the year was a highly exciting prospect.

Miracle On 34th Street, despite a few flaws, can warm the hearts of the biggest Christmas cynics. It emboldens us to believe in all kinds of possibilities, and inspires us to make our own selfless mark on this wonderful time of year. Indulge in spontaneity, and forget the stresses that can come with the season; it’s the moments that you spend spreading goodwill, whether to family and friends or complete strangers, that truly warm the heart.

 

The Nightmare Before Christmas

On my first wander around Camden market, I picked up one of numerous knock off hoodies with Jack Skellington’s wicked grimace adorning the back. Because of the prominence of Halloween characters, you can sometimes forget The Nightmare Before Christmas is actually focused on the festive season instead. Because it straddles two holidays, I believe I can justify watching it anytime between the two, which means I always have plenty of time to enjoy it.
Aside from being an immense technical achievement in the field of stop motion, the film also promotes the idea that anyone can celebrate Christmas in our own individual way; we should not feel forced to be guided by tradition. There are so many things you can do at this time of year, you can sometimes feel a pressure to fit them all in before the season vanishes. Yes, Jack’s plans go a little bit awry, but you can’t deny the heart is there; do what you can, but don’t overestimate your own abilities.

 

There are plenty of others that I could mention- Elf, Meet Me In St Louis, The Snowman to name a few- but the films above are the ones I cherish the most. Amazingly, there are still several that I need to tick off my list for the first time; I’ve had quite a few shocked responses when I mention that I’ve yet to see It’s A Wonderful Life.  This doesn’t bother me as much as some think it should; the way I see it, it means that I’ve got a festive treat to look forward to at some point in the future. After all, it’s the things you do in the present that define each Christmas, rather than reflecting on the past.