I can’t recall a Christmas I’ve looked forward to more than this one. As a kid Christmas was euphoric. It was a culmination of an entire year’s worth of good behaviour, with some interim caveats of delinquency to break up the otherwise exemplary attitude of my year. But as you get older the “magic” of Christmas fades. Cynicism thrives, the innocence of youth becomes tethered by the necessities of maturity and Christmas, well Christmas is just an excuse to eat, drink and frankly socialise with family members you avoid for the other 364 days of the year. But this year, this year is different. My daughter is 3 years old. She’s boisterous, incessantly defiant of her loving, nurturing and unashamedly handsome father’s “just” authority, but mostly at this time of year totally beside herself at the prospect of a jolly old fat man with a raggedy white beard and a penchant for breaking and entering. Delivering gifts to children because of some arbitrarily defined set of rules, designed to blackmail them into behaving, that has become a customery tradition, one she doesn’t fully understand.
Her excitement for Christmas is positively infectious. Seeing her bounding out of bed to inspect the leftover mince pie and milk left by Santa brings such satisfaction. Watching how genuinely aghast she is by the sudden appearance of Christmas presents under the tree because some fictitious pilgrim covertly infiltrates households across the globe to leave gifts for the good is delightfully wholesome. With kids the magic of Christmas is restored. A congruent reminder of what it was like for us when we were their age. The boundless possibilities that adolescence presented us. So this Christmas embrace the facade, disgard the cynicism that afflicts our miserable everyday lives and indulge, gorge and celebrate the irreverence of Christmas. With copious amounts of your favourite libation to accompany you. Remembering to of course drink responsibly. At least until the kids have gone to sleep anyway.
Have a very Merry Christmas! Especially my little princess.
Politics is a topic I try to avoid vehemently. It’s such an inflammatory subject that brings out the absolute worst in people. And yet we can’t help but talk about it either. It’s impossible for two people, with distinctly polarising views to discuss any political discourse in a calm, eloquent manner without one/both of the opposing parties descending into puerile insults or invective mocking. A general election, especially one of such significance to British sovereignty only escalates these morally deficient sentiments. The level of petulance on display from supporters is something I’d expect from a couple of Star Wars fans bleating on about how Rhian Johnson did/didn’t ruin their beloved franchise. Professing a political affiliation can negatively influence a person’s opinion of yourself, as people seem fit to judge you purely on a set of principles that conflict with their own morally ambiguous standards. Posturing has become or has perhaps always been the common vernecular in political circles, something I abhor in general, let alone attributes intended to inspire confidence in a politician I’m supposed to trust.
Being a politician seems to contradict every value I’ve ever been taught. There’s a facilitation of division and promotion of lies, all distributed through various literature and advertisements which I find most egregious. Yet what’s more execrable is that someone has taken the time to articulate complete and utter bullshit! They’ve knowling and deliberately constructed full sentences for the purpose of deception. How can supporters be so conditioned to accept and even defend the fallacious propaganda of a political organisation and vote favourably? Since when has lying been considered democratic? That may seem like naive reasoning I suppose, but is it honesty really such liability? Now I’m not singling out any specific party, I certainly don’t have a dog in this fight. Though it’s fair to say that Boris Johnson is certainly not a man I can personally endorse, but then again none of them are. The Borough that I live in has been a conservative held constituency for nearly 2 decades, that has subsequently re-elected the same MP for a third term. Being a small town means that any impactful development is largely negligible: Cleaner streets. Less crime. Reliable bus services. Nothing too challenging. Its evident from the results that a majority of the voters appointed this local representative because of his individual efforts, not because of BJ’s blow hard boasts. But he still represents BJ and the party as a unifying entity. Surely a general election should be less about the cart, but rather the slightly blithering horse pulling it? A more informed vote would be whether or not we want BJ to be prime minister?
This is where division starts to metastasize into other irrational tangents. Brexit for instance, which to me has always been less concerned with preserving the sovereignty of our nation and its values, and totally subservient to discriminating against racial and cultural diversity. Sure it doesn’t explicitly stipulate that, but the emphasis on immigration as well as being proponent of “British jobs for British workers” is inherently discriminatory. There’s a small yet critical distinction between being racist and exercising racially insentive views. Sadly the perpetuation of the former is startling apparent, especially when politicians like Trump and BJ only propagate such attitudes. People feel emboldened by it, secure enough to express deep-rooted beliefs that previously would have been subverted by rational thought or you know, decency! Whether this was intentional or not, perhaps to exhume some allies that secretly share the same ideology is unclear. But what I do know is that politics is an underlying contribution to a bigoted society we find ourselves in.
We argue, taunt and relish in the failures of others differing political views. Social media is an autonomous network of connectivity utilised to deliberately undermine a user they will probably never meet, without fear or accountability. Division isn’t simply an attitude adopted by far right extremists you don’t see, but extends to co-workers, friends and even family. Politics is as influential now as it has ever been, for good or ill. But the people entrenched in the political vacuum seem less concerned with the sanctity of human life than they are about the preservation of some arcane philosophy that conserves segregation as a means of independence. Left. Right. Centrist. It doesn’t matter when no one can be honest with themselves let alone to others.
Can you believe that PlayStation is 25 years old. They grow up so fast don’t they? No one deserves to celebrate more than Sony’s flagship console. It pioneered an exceptional slew of franchises, challenging the established loyalty of its rivals fans, including handing SEGA enough rope to hang themselves from. Selling an estimated 104 million units worldwide, 71 million more than its most fierce competitor, Nintendo’s N64, the PS1 revolutionised the industry by proving that the future of gaming was on CD-ROM, not the traditional gaming cartridges that was the accepted conformity. Whereas SEGA’s painful deficiencies where all too evident with the Saturn, PlayStation strolled into the mire with a confident swagger you’d expect from a well established company like Nintendo. Whether it was Crash Bandicoot, Metal Gear Solid, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil or Final Fantasy VII, PlayStation always had a game that catered to any proclivity. My own PlayStation, long since lapsed into an eternal slumber, nestled securely amongst other vestiges of gaming nostalgia was the first games console I exclusively owned. Up until that point ownership of a games consoles like the Sega Mega-Drive and SNES were shared equally with my sister, with the added proviso that we’d begrudgingly relinquish control over to our parents when the inclination suited them.
This perpendicular little unit, with its boomerang controller and grey aesthetic was my muse as an adolescent. I’d buy accessories, peripherals as well as memory cards in a variety of iridescent designs, like a penguin gathering finely coloured pebbles for a potential suiter. It was something that relatively speaking was mine and mine alone. Sheltered from the prying intrusion of my inquisitive sister behind my locked bedroom, my PlayStation did admittedly promote the social emancipation that has become a defining attribute of my life, but also gave me great comfort at a time that couldn’t have been less enjoyable. Whatever I was going through, however apprehensive I felt, the PlayStation was always there to placate any anxieties I had, supplying a remedial solace I so desperately needed. Something I’m particularly greatful for now.
PlayStation as a brand, as well as an institution has left an indelible mark on so many. An influence that has only flourished with each successive generation. Sony have made many mistakes, most of which can be attributed to their own burgeoning hubris. But even their most eminent blunders can be excused by the years of joy created by its most prestigious progeny. So let’s raise a glass of your favourite libation and toast a games console that deserves not only recognition for its committed exultation but our indebted respect. Cheers!