Humbug day approaches.

I notice sales of books have risen slightly. Electronic rather than paper, but there is a hell of a price difference so that’s not really surprising. Still a long way from retiring on the proceeds but they’re moving in the right direction. I hope all those shiny new Kindles will log on and buy my books on Christmas Day. I’m also on the Apple ibooks thing, Sony and other places too. I’m not having a January sale.

Apparently the January Sales now start on Christmas Eve.

Sales traditionally start on Boxing Day but retailers are now using every trick in the book to steal a march on their rivals, both in the High Street and on the web.

Well, traditionally, the January sales started in January. Nothing was open on Christmas Day or Boxing Day. Apart from a brief opening of pubs. Local Shop is closed for both days, unlike Tesco which closes for, I think, 24 hours. Their cleaners must have a hell of a time. One day a year to clean it all.

There are people panic-buying as if the shops are closing for a month. Some will be open on Boxing Day. All will be open the day after. Shopping will be fully available long before most people run out of turkey. I’m avoiding shops – except I plan to try for a haircut tomorrow if the barber is open. She tends to take the traditional ‘sod this, I’m off’ approach to the High Street frenzy. I hear there are male barbers but why would I go there?

There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth because Amazon will be available on Christmas Day. Why Amazon? All the online retailers will be available on the day. None can post anything on that day. I don’t intend to go online shopping on Christmas Day and it has nothing to do with any kind of moral judgement. It has more to do with a certain bottle-shaped present which feels like the distinctive open-sided box of the Penderyn.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey said: ‘Christmas Day is a time to be together with the family, to focus on the children and to have a great time together.

Does he believe that families spend the rest of the year in sullen silence? Some probably do.

‘This day is precious. We are now in danger of the gadgets taking over our lives and we are not in control of them.’

It’s not precious to me. I’ve worked on Christmas day in the past. Not being Christian or Pagan, the festival part of it is irrelevant. The Christmas decorations aren’t Christian either, nor are the presents, the mass genocide of turkeys, mince pies, Christmas pud, brandy butter… none of it is Christian. Even the day is a Pagan sun-worship festival that the early Christians tried to overwrite. I seem to recall that someone worked out when Christ would have been born, based on historical events around that time. I think it came out as around July.

Some people get really upset when you point that out. I’ve had another one-star review on ‘A Christmas Contract‘ that had me rolling with laughter.

This is a terrible book. Does not promote the Christmas spirit.

None of my Christmas stories promote any kind of Christmas spirit. They are labelled ‘horror’ so expecting a jolly happy ending is a bit on the silly side. They are all pure fiction and labelled as such. I think this one might have touched a couple of raw nerves though. I wonder if the Daily Mail will write a shock-horror-terrible-man story about it? Maybe there aren’t enough offended readers yet. I’ll leave it free until after Christmas because the members of Offended Anonymous only complain about the free ones. They’re too cheap to buy any.

Food is already well stocked so there’s no need to go anywhere near a supermarket until January, and then only to check for whisky bargains.  I’ll definitely have Christmas pud on the day because I like it, and will stock up after Christmas so I can have some the rest of the year too. Turkey always seems dry, tough and stringy so I’m considering whether to go with beef or pork instead. Sprouts are right out. You either love them or hate them. I hate them. I also don’t see the point in wrapping little sausages in bits of bacon. Keep that bacon intact and have a bacon sandwich later.

Tomorrow I work the afternoon until 6 pm. Everything will be closed by then and a blessed silence will fall. The tills will no longer ring, crossing the shop will no longer be like taking a short cut across the Dodgems, and all those furious-faced people intent on clearing the shelves of everything before the Day of Nothing to Buy will be gone. It seems that Christmas cheer has an ‘off’ switch that is triggered when the shop door opens. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two of those furious middle-aged women turn into the Hulk if we run out of sprouts or pre-bacon-wrapped mini-sausages.

Since Local Shop only does food, a limited range of booze and a few other extremity things like socks and gloves, we won’t have a January sale to worry about. We’re not likely to sell a lot of booze for New Year because Tesco is nearby and they’ll undercut anyone. So tomorrow should see the end of the madness for us. It’s likely to be fairly busy next week but nothing like the last few days before Christmas.

After that, it’ll probably feel like a holiday. I can then add to my CV that I have experience of retail work over the Christmas period, and with a couple more months of experience will be able to look at upgrading to a better-paid version of the same thing so I can do fewer hours for the same income. What? You thought there was no devious plan involved in taking the lowest-paid job in the area? They are a training ground, they will always only employ the totally inexperienced because once we get experience, we’ll all upgrade. That they don’t see it is to be admired: if they paid the same rate as the other shops, they’d be able to demand experience and I’d never have got in.

The others? Two have very young children and working husbands. When their kids reach school age they won’t work these hours. They don’t really need the job, it’s something to get out of the house, feel a little freedom and earn a bit extra. The other is young, on her first proper job and will probably move on before I do. As for me, I’m just looking to cover the bills. This job does it, a better paid one would do it while taking up less writing time.

It’s going to take me a very long time to build up the writing income to the point where I could live on it. Like the self-employment, it will never be reliable either. Books can go in and out of fashion in the blink of an eye. Therefore my career plan is not to move up the rankings and end up as a manager (most of whom still have no idea who they have employed!) but to move up the janitorial pay scale by working fewer hours to get the same income. Cover the bills, leave a booze and baccy fund, and no more. I don’t want to help this Government waste money and as long as there is a non-negotiable smoking ban, they will get no more than the basics from me.

Copies of ‘Samuel’s Girl’ arrived too late for Christmas but I now have some. I had 30, I have already sold 14 signed copies and I have to send some to the company who kindly sent me 12 bottles of red wine again this year. It’s bigger than ‘Jessica’s Trap’ but the book is wider and taller, not too much thicker, so it should still get through as ‘large letter’ unless I overload the packaging. I can sell signed copies at below Amazon’s price – £12 including postage – but I can’t get them to anyone in time for Christmas unless they live next door. Bugger! Plastic Man next door cannot possibly get through a 90,000 word book with no pictures. Boozy Man on the other side warrants a free one since I drank almost all of his Monkey Shoulder at his last party.

Maybe one of these books will be picked for World Book Night one day. Since the current publisher concentrates on eBooks so the print versions are costly, that might never happen. I have logged myself as a volunteer to give away books. Don’t know if I’m in yet. I went for a graphic novel because I  haven’t seen one before – well, apart from all those MAD magazine books I bought in the seventies and ‘Fat Freddy’s Cat’ which surely everyone has read. They weren’t proper graphic novels, just a collection of graphic stories in one book. The MAD cartoonist Don Martin’s ‘Captain Klutz’ and his story ‘The Hardest Head in the World’ in ‘Fester and Karbunkle’ were probably the closest I’ve read.

I have rambled enough. So online shops will be available on Christmas Day. They are available every day for 24 hours. It does not mean anyone is actually there. None of the orders can be sent out until the day after Boxing Day at the earliest so nobody needs to be in Amazon’s warehouses on Much Food And Too Much Booze day. It is not, and never has been, a Christian festival. In fact Scrooge was right.

It’s all humbug.

 

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10 thoughts on “Humbug day approaches.

  1. My particular favourite bit of humbug is the Band Aid record “Do you know it’s Christmas?” – of course they bloody don’t! They’re muslims…

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  2. Sir
    I am slimming down my brain food intake for the remainder of 2012 and assuming 2013 arrives, if the multitude of apocalyptic events allow, then the new slimmed down ‘blog reading regime’ will continue for the foreseeable future.
    Yours and one other are the two blogs I will be keeping on the roll as the rest have become noisy repetition that simply records for posterity the ‘wrongdoings’ of everyone from the chav to illuminati and all they create is brain fog. Yours has taught me all sorts of micro biological/chemical/physical stuff that has improved my life and confirmed a fair few suspicions, given me a few laughs and an insight into a world of whisky and modelling ‘How to’s’ I never knew existed, I thangyou,

    As for your books I have yet to grab one, mainly because I’m not that keen on horror stories, but number one son is trying to carve out a life for himself from his writing and some frankly weird goth/horror/fantasy poetry that is very well received by everyone who has listened to him read it out loud (something he would never do as a child but now he’s nineteen…). He claims he doesn’t like writing poetry but he does seem to have something so sadly at the moment he is acting like a bus driver with a PHD but one day… I might buy him one or even download a free one but trouble is he hates Kindles etc, he loves the feel/smell/sound of real books).

    Anyway compliments of the season from a part time commenter and long time reader.

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  3. I’m a follower of the Christ, as you know, Leggy, and Christmas has absolutely no significance to me at all in that respect. It was not the “Saviour’s Day” as Cliff Richard insists, but a pagan holiday, as you say, and those clever Romans decided to try to please everyone by combining everything into the one day. Like they changed the sabbath from the seventh to the first day. My online Amazon sale started last night. Bah, humbug. Think I’ll have a curry for “Christmas dinner”!

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