The Duke - December 24, 2014

LAST MINUTE A Shopper ahead of 'Panic Saturday'
LAST MINUTE A Shopper ahead of 'Panic Saturday'
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So this is (finally) Christmas?

It’s been coming for a while – around July I think. And it will be gone in a couple of days – to make way for the January sales.

But let’s make the most of it now the waiting, the queueing, the buying, the squabbling and the stress of its inevitable arrival is all but over for another few months.

Hopefully you all survived Black Friday – with its fighting in the aisles, Cyber Monday – for shoppers who didn’t want to risk life and limb in real stores, Panic Saturday – for anyone who suddenly realised they’d missed buying Aunty Ada’s gift but who stupidly went to the Blackpool vs Bournemouth match instead, Terrible Tuesday – trying to dodge the last minute rush for sprouts and other veg you’d been beaten to over the weekend, and Whoops Wednesday (otherwise known as Christmas Eve or “today”) – when you forgot to collect the turkey before the butcher closed and headed to the pub for a well-deserved pint.

Add to the equation Mad Friday and its kid brothers Almost As Mad Monday and Let’s Keep The Party Going Tuesday – when everyone pretends to like all their fellow workers and their partners and keep genuine drinkers out of their favourite pubs. Throw into the mix Black Eyed Friday (and Monday and Tuesday) – when many people finally realise they don’t actually like their fellow workers and their partners and choose to knock seven bells out of each other later that same night. Alcohol consumption jumps 114 per cent compared with an average Friday – and to find anyone at all in some of my locals on a Monday or Tuesday is usually reserved for the World Cup.

In the Duke household things should be a little quieter. Santa’s glass of sherry and mince pie are already waiting for him. It would have been whisky but I’d finished all last Christmas’s spirits by February so hope the jolly old soul will be replenishing my supply (a fair swap for that glass of sherry I think).

Considering that on Panic Saturday alone 13 million people spent an average of £92 each (£1.2bn between them) on top of what they’d already coughed up, I reckon my Christmas list is pretty conservative. Whisky and aftershave. Simple enough. I don’t play computer games, I can’t really understand most of what my existing mobile phone (or whatever I’m supposed to call it) is capable of, I’ve enough clothes to get me through the foreseeable future and I haven’t completed reading a book of any substance for longer than I like to admit. So, yes, whisky and aftershave (and perhaps a night of luxury in a Yorkshire hotel) will do me fine.

Thankfully the Only One has grown beyond wanting whatever is in shortest supply and only requesting it at the last minute. Many is the (pre Amazon) Christmas I’ve queued hours to purchase the Almost Impossible Gift just to find the customer in front of me claim the last one, so my heart goes out to parents who didn’t see the Frozen phenomenon coming (top of the Santa Want List). Still there’s always Lego (second), Peppa Pig (seventh) and One Direction merchandise (down to eight) to break the bank with.

But let’s not forget what Christmas is all about. According to the Catholic newspaper The Tablet this year 50 deaneries are holding their traditional Christmas Midnight Mass as early as 5pm or dropping it altogether as a result of previous drunken behaviour. Some churches are putting bouncers on the door to control or bar any tanked up worshippers spoiling things. On that cheery note may you all either receive what you want or at least what you deserve. Have a good Christmas.

Are you a pensioner or a ‘real senior’?

The Manager and I are pensioners. We don’t like admitting it and loathe being addressed by the term but then again we collect pensions so have to accept it.

The older we get the more we will probably have to become used to it.

But help could be at hand. A Radio 4 poll of people aged 85 or more found that of a selection of names that could replace catch all terms such as “pensioners” (bad enough) and “the elderly” (absolutely horrid), some 40 per cent preferred “real seniors.”

Given that the alternatives included the “long lived” (it came second), the “very oldies” (fourth), “wisdom warriors” (third) and “the venerables” (oh dear!) then “real seniors” sounds the best of a bad bunch.

With more than 1.5 million people currently in the over 85 age bracket and more than five million expected by 2050, Radio 4’s The Invisible Age felt that a distinct name was needed to ensure they weren’t ignored by the wider society.

It makes some kind of sense. 
There’s a 20 year difference between a 65 year old pensioner and an 85 year old one.

We don’t lump tots and teenagers together or twentysomethings and the middle aged so I guess I’ll settle for being a “pensioner” until hopefully gently graduating into a “real senior.”