Millions of young Brits are out to celebrate God’s Word uttered 2,012 years ago. Most, alas, are unsure of what exactly the message was.
By various accounts Mary was already pregnant when she had her first date with Joseph, and only the hopelessly naive believe that the Holy Spirit had anything to do with it – pull the other one, mate. She then gave birth in the rushes and put baby Jesus into a wicker basket because Joseph wouldn’t cough up for a proper cot.
The ‘m’ word hardly ever comes up, and when it does it’s usually taken to mean that Jesus was a born manager. Clearly, producers of Nativity plays have their work cut out, always provided they can get audiences.
Others are hazy on the marital status of the couple, the general consensus being that Jesus was illegitimate, a product of a little dalliance Mary had had before tricking an old man into marrying her. His dubious legal status didn’t prevent Jesus from receiving a bountiful visit from Santa who came laden with presents bought at a Christmas sale in the nearest High Street.
Obviously a message of such subtle poignancy has to be celebrated in appropriate style, and our youngsters never disappoint on this score. They celebrate the birth of our civilisation by shedding all its outer trappings while clinging to its underlying spirit. Or spirits, to be exact.
Millions of them were out on the streets last weekend displaying their piety by wallowing in their own vomit, copulating in large groups, brawling, throwing rubbish bins at one another, falling under fast-moving vehicles, passing out in various stages of undress and ending up in the tender care of police and assorted emergency services.
To their credit, these services left nothing to chance. Just like an army moving field hospitals close to the frontline before a major offensive, police, hospitals and paramedics weren’t caught unprepared. They set up hundreds of mobile units and ad hoc centres equipped and staffed to take care of such pandemic conditions as alcohol-induced coma, busted heads and drug overdose.
Hypothermia isn’t usually mentioned among the consequences of public devotions, but considering the thousands of half-naked girls passing out in gutters on a freezing night, I’d be surprised if those army-style field units didn’t have to deal with that problem as well.
These didn’t come cheap – London’s Soho field unit alone cost £500,000 to set up, austerity or no austerity. The facility was in high demand: every bed was taken by 11.30 Friday night. In general, 999 became the most popular phone number that Friday, with for example Newcastle ambulances having to deal with 1,500 calls in a few hours.
It wasn’t just hundreds of field units and thousands of extra police officers who were drafted in – other species did their bit too. Sniffer dogs were used throughout Merseyside, spotting the worst drunks and making canine-citizen’s arrests to strike a blow for interspecies cooperation. Verily I say unto you, interspecies marriage will have to be the next item on Dave’s busy agenda. After all, who’s to say that dogs and people can form just working partnerships? Only those in thrall to what Dave’s idol Tony so aptly described as the forces of conservatism.
Mind you, a show of some of those vanquished forces wouldn’t have gone amiss last weekend. Conservatives probably wouldn’t have found proper answers to the social catastrophe, but at least they could have asked the right questions, mostly of the why-oh-why variety.
These are too obvious to raise here, but a lament is in order. For the celebration fits the occasion, as it has become. Christmas in a neo-pagan Britain has turned into an eerie combination of crass commercialism and unrestrained savagery, a sort of Walpurgisnacht for the whole family, while stocks last.
The illegitimate baby Jesus looks on out of his wicker basket, clutching a useless present in one hand and a bottle of Sambucca in the other (Mary was so hammered she thought it was milk). There’s no one to look after him: his Mum is out on the razzle, and his Dad has passed out. The baby is crying, hoping that we’ll cry with him. But we won’t – we’re too busy celebrating.