Making my devoted pilgrimage to Dobbies Garden Centre, I was struck by a horror so great that I almost dropped my potted spider plant. There before me, glistening in their silver foil armour, stood an army of chocolate Santas. I turned around. A novelty reindeer head poked me in the ribs with a festive felt antler. A sprightly young shop assistant asked me if I was ok to which I said that I was not, because he was wearing a santa hat and it’s October.
I ask you- why is it that every year, Christmas is forced upon us earlier and earlier like a second helping of aubergine bake at someone else’s dinner party? Why must we spend a quarter of each year surrounded by magic snow and the faintly repulsive smell of cinnamon? When did October stop being about collecting conkers and watching the leaves turn crisp and colourful (or shrivel and die if you’re a pessimist)?
This year, Christmas has been let off its leash earlier than ever, and it’s gambling merrily through every shop and street, plastering everything in its path with badly drawn snowflakes. And it’s always such a disappointment. There is no ‘winter wonderland’, no robin conforming to the stereotype of perching on a snow-dusted spade handle. It drizzles with cold rain. People feel self-conscious in their oversized festive knitwear, Christmas dinner takes too long to cook and no one can face eating the Christmas cake anyway. It retreats back to the tin in the cupboard and remains there until July, in all its sultana-ry stodge. The Christingle service sees yet another child impaled by a cocktail-stick skewered satsuma.
And so, when Dobbies cranked up their ‘band’ of performing polar bear models and the sound of Slade began its 3 month tirade on my tolerance, I swivelled and walked straight out of the shop. On exit, I walked into a Christmas tree, which promptly vomited a pine needle puddle onto the pavement.