We feel your (christmas) pain

I may live to repent the purchase of a ‘genuine New York kazoo’ to pop in Santa’s stocking. My daughter on the other hand – may not.

I wrote last week on the likelihood of me going to hell based on the number of times I had been told that I would by staunch upholders of one religion or another as a way of quashing any argument. Hell holds no fear for me now. Pilgrims: I have been there but I return to tell you. Nothing. Nothing – is worth going there for again. To Satre hell was other people. He was right.

Hell is a 6 hour car ride in Boxing Day traffic with a protesting 8 year old and a genuine New York Kazoo. It’s like being held hostage by a meth-fuelled Indian snake charmer with a penchant for monkey bars and peppermint chocolate. ‘Ma uh uuummmm’ (why is it that kids can make this one syllable word last for three in such a scary way?) “Mum, she asks ‘can I stop at a park?” “No.” I reply in a non-festive and generally unaccommodating tone. We are then treated to at least 20 minutes (although it could have been longer I was losing track of time as well as my mind) of ‘Jingle Bells’ and the theme tune to Sponge Bob Square pants on the Kazoo. And that was how we came to do a monkey bar crawl back up state highway 1 stopping at every gas station to buy peppermint chocolates to fuel the monkey bar binge and to prevent sudden onset kazoo playing. I must have been hypnotised. The mad Latin, watching the sugar crazed small person swing tirelessly from bar to bar shakes his head and wonders out loud what the hell I thought I was up to with the New York kazoo deal. “Are you insane or is Father Christmas a bit twisted and does he really really hate us?” He suggests throwing the kazoo in the rubbish bin and then pretending the nice looking Korean family next to us stole it from him at gunpoint. I suggest that perhaps this might be taking it too far. He says there’s not a place far enough to take the genuine New York kazoo. He could be right although I’m suffering from Stockholm syndrome and am starting to think that our kidnapper and torturer is loveable and worth having a relationship with if only she’d stop playing the genuine New York kazoo.

My grandfather always said that the bag-pipes sounded their best when heard from the other side of a body of water. When he said this, most people thought he was being generally pleasant at whatever rural social outing my grandmother had taken him to which involved the ubiquitous marching band with bag-pipes. What they didn’t know was that he was actually referring to large bodies of water – like the Atlantic Ocean for example, and had an almost phobic dislike of the sound of bag-pipes at all. I feel the same about the genuine New York kazoo. It’s even mind-bendingly annoying when the kids have given up playing tunes and are just giggling inanely into it as they watch parents try to pretend they enjoy having their heads slowly twisted off.

So to all of you suffering in camp grounds in their tents. To those in small baches and caravans or at home where there really is no escape. To all of you trapped with the plastic lawn mowers with the clicky things, with the key-boards with 100 different computer generated animal noises or the creepy Baby Alive dolls that randomly tell you to pray: it is important for you to know. You are not alone. We feel your pain and remember – the instruments of your torture, thanks to our disposable consumer culture, are bound to be broken by lunchtime. It’s just a question of maintaining the will to live that long.

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