Christmas has been and gone…

… so I might as well have a quick rundown of some nice little seasonal things I’ve come across over the past week or so. No time like the present…


It’s always a little tradition of mine to listen to more radio in one fortnight then I normally do in six months, thanks to my going through the much-beloved Christmas Radio Times issue with a fine-tooth comb and highlighting any programmes of interest. Aside from a couple of documentaries highlighting how Christmases are spent in other cultures which were amusing and enlightening, there was one particular programme that I absolutely loved: Crisp And Even Brightly.

Written in 1987 (yet hardly dated, aside from some broad strokes against the Russkies), it reimagines the subject of the beloved Christmas carol as a cynical and weak-minded old bully who decides on the spur of the moment to improve his 10% approval rating by personally delivering a generous food parcel to the peasant gathering winter fuel. Trouble is, that peasant was a Slavnik spy, part of a gang dedicated to destroying the Bohemian monarchy (the subject of the aforementioned broad strokes) and it doesn’t help that the page is carrying the entire food parcel…

Crisp And Even Brightly is written with just the right amount of cynicism and silliness, with equal measures of Blackadder and Dad’s Army thrown together. There were times when I had to stop listening to the play so I could stop laughing at the barrage of delightfully absurd jokes that the late Alick Rowe was bombarding me with. “Laugh-a-minute” is usually used these days as a back-handed compliment. For Crisp And Even Brightly, it’s a gross understatement.

For more measured BBC Radio fare, I would suggest the Christmas editions of Beyond Belief and Thinking Allowed, which give sober (but not sombre) and frank discussions on how Christmas has changed over the past few decades, and what religious people have done to adapt to shifting social mores. There’s some rather fascinating talk in Thinking Allowed about how the general public views paganism, and how it used to be held in open contempt a little as 5-10 years ago, which I found fascinating to listen to.

Programmes about the Yuletide period are all very well and good, but there’s one thing that does define this time of year: presents. Amongst the usual unwanted fripperies, I gave donations to Oxfam and Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity to family; I received several books, including The League of Regrettable Superheroes (an excellent read, although I question the inclusion of joke characters like Squirrel Girl and Captain Ultra, and I’m not entirely sure why Rom The Spaceknight is in there) and a small cash donation from my parents for me to use in the various conventions I’ll attend in 2016, so expect a bigger haul from me next year.

Of course, I couldn’t hold my nerdy head up high without telling you about that sequel. Episode VII: The Force Awakens – the movie nobody thought would ever happen… and yet, here we are. If you want to feel like a small child, full of emotion and wonder again, you need to see this in the cinema. I realise that’s a pretty weird review, but I’m a pretty weird person.


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