As far as months go in the UK, November must surely be one of the worst.
Think about it. If we all accept that the spring and summer months are the best six (which we do, and if you disagree with me then frankly you’re wrong), that essentially leaves September through to February to fight among themselves for the title of shittiest month of the year.
Except, September often has semi-decent weather, October has Halloween and half-term to look forward to, and December has fucking Christmas, so now we’re down to our final three.
I’ll make a case for February, because not only is that the month when I celebrate my birthday, but, thanks to Valentine’s Day, it is also the one date in the calendar where everyone has their best chance of getting laid.
All of which leaves us with January and November in the grand final and, while I suspect January takes the overall crown for the majority of people, don’t let November off the hook so easily. After all:
- The clocks have just gone back, so as soon as the kids come home from school, it’s immediately dark outside, which means you can’t really throw them out into the garden for a few hours to kill each other where you can’t hear them.
- After the potential for a few final days of ‘autumn sunshine’ in October, you can kiss goodbye to anything other than biting wind and howling rain for the foreseeable future. Plus, the chance of starting to feel all festive with some potential snow is still a few weeks away.
- All of the trees (well, the deciduous ones, at least) have now well and truly shed their annual supply of leaves, which in October gives the pavements a beautiful autumnal canvas, but thanks to November’s rain they are now just soggy mulch, serving no purpose other than to make you slip over, or, worse, to disguise some unclaimed dog shit underneath.
- There is not a single date within the month of November to look forward to (apart from perhaps the 30th when we get to see the back of it for another year). Ok, my mum and wife celebrate their birthdays in November, which is nice, but that just means I’m skint – at a time when I really need to start thinking about buying Christmas presents – and the pressure is on me to come up with ideas of what to get each of them two months running. Plus, while I suppose Bonfire Night can be considered an event of sorts, all it seems to do these days is split the nation between the pet owners who hate all the loud noises, and the people who get fed up of the pet owners complaining.
So, yeah, January is probably the most widely-hated month of the year, but November is right behind it in the title race, and in some ways that makes it even more pathetic, because it’s can’t even succeed at being shit.
However, there is one other good reason why November is such an utterly terrible month, and that’s because all the major stores and supermarkets choose November to really push their annual assault on the nation – their Christmas adverts.
Don’t get me wrong, that first glimpse of the Coca Cola truck gives me a lovely warm feeling inside, and I cried like a little girl over that fucking John Lewis penguin a few years back, but nowadays it just seems like all the major stores and supermarkets follow the same boring formula:
Rules for Christmas Adverts
- First, choose an already slow and dreary song for the soundtrack.
- Slow the tempo down by at least half, then record it using ONLY a piano (all other musical instruments are strictly prohibited).
- Employ a female solo artist (preferably someone relatively unknown, so you can later claim you ‘discovered her’), to half-whisper/half-breathe the lyrics with as little enthusiasm as she can possibly muster.
- Create a cute main character (animals, young children and pensioners are all popular choices), then place them in an utterly depressing situation. Preferably, make them look really fucking lonely.
- Bring it all back together with a happy ending, then shoehorn in a Christmas message, while claiming that this is what your company proudly represents throughout the year, even though we all associate the brand with something entirely different (e.g. John Lewis = overpriced goods for the middle-classes; Aldi = the random ‘aisle of shite’ and packing at potentially fatal velocity; Amazon = not paying any tax, etc.)
- The main aim is to try as hard as you possibly can to make everyone cry. Never mind that Christmas is meant to be a happy time, you want your customers blubbing for the entire month, because the more people you can make cry, the more successful your advert is deemed to be.
Why can’t just one of the major stores be realistic each year, and portray Christmas like it really is for most ordinary people?
Ok, contrary to what Facebook might think, when they repeatedly suggest I should advertise any vacant jobs I might have available, my page is not a business. If it was, it would be an utterly terrible one. In the nearly-five years since I first launched ‘Confessions of a Middle-Raged Dad’, I have not made a single penny from it. Not one. In contrast, I have spent hundreds of pounds trying to gather as many followers as I possibly can (had I known before this year that it would only take one post about a ‘cockney bellend’ to go viral, I’d have saved the cash).
Nevertheless, if I do ever launch a product range (perhaps selling merchandise with quirky slogans printed on them, like ‘Go To Bed, Debbie’, ‘Don’t Answer The Fucking Questions’, ‘Tired as a Git’ and ‘#feral’), then you can be damn sure my Christmas advert will at least be realistic.
For example, picture the scene:
The camera pans along a dark street at night, while the first few bars of ‘Fairytale of New York’ begin playing in the background (look, it’s not even in my top three Christmas songs, but it’s by far the most appropriate for what follows, and I plan to use the original version, not some barely-whispered horse-shit piano cover by some twat like Ellie Goulding).
The camera continues down the street until it stops outside a rundown looking house with the lights still on, then zooms in and enters the living room. Above the fireplace is a clock which shows the time to be just before midnight, and either side it are two large sacks with the names ‘Ollie’ and ‘Isaac’ printed on them, but both are flat and clearly empty. Underneath them sits a half-drunk bottle of sherry, and an open box of mince pies.
A man’s voice starts singing the lyrics to ‘Fairytale of New York’, but it quickly becomes apparent that he is not only a worse singer than Shane MacGowan, he also sounds even more inebriated (if that were possible) and, as a result, he gets some of the lyrics wrong.
As the camera angle moves toward the sofa, the man is slumped cross-legged on the carpet, with mountains of unwrapped presents stacked around him, and mince pie crumbs nestled on top of his Christmas-jumper clad belly.
He continues to sing, drunkenly out of tune, while looking from the presents to some large rolls of Christmas wrapping paper and then back again. He appears to be fiddling with something between his legs (hey, no, come on folks, you’re better than that) and, as we zoom in, it transpires he has a roll of Sellotape in his lap.
He glances at the clock and looks exhausted. Then, his face brightens slightly as he manages to locate the end of the Sellotape, and as he frantically picks at the roll, a weight seems to lift from his shoulders.
But, as soon as the Sellotape begins to peel away from the roll, it suddenly splits, leaving the man holding a useless four-inch stretch of tape which narrows to a point. He angrily shakes his hand as if to discard the tape, but it only becomes more entangled around his fingers.
The man stops singing and begins to quietly sob, as the camera pans back, out of the living room window and back to the cold street.
Moving upwards toward the empty night sky, the message ‘Have a Middle-Raged Christmas’ appears on the black, starlit screen, and when the words eventually fade away, we hear the man wail pitifully before, half-sobbing, he whimpers ‘For fuck’s sake’.
Look, I doubt it will sell much, but at least mine is realistic.
Thanks for reading x