C is for…Christmas Cards

It’s that time of year again folks!

I was thinking, as I wrote my cards this year, how is it, that we live in a world of E-mails, Text Messaging, Snapchat, Twitter, Virtual Reality, etc. etc. – in a world that is supposed to be saving its natural resources – we still send these real life cards?!

I know there are online ‘e-cards’, but they’re not quite the same are they? I even know someone who doesn’t put his cards up, (If you’re not from the UK… We display our received cards along with the Christmas decorations, either hung, cheesily a la 1970s on a line strung across a wall, or blue-tacked to a wall or door). This guy, he puts his in the shredder!!!! Immediately!!!!

I know there are also some truly horrendous cards out there – especially the photos used for the ‘personal touch’ cards; I’ll sprinkle a few of these throughout for your pleasure – like hideous snowflakes! Here’s your first…

christmascard1
Poor kids, call Child Services! Hideous Christmas card #1

So, I decided to collect a few factoids together about cards for you. Enjoy.

  • The first commercial Christmas card was created and sent in 1843 in the UK. It cost 1 shilling (5 pence/8 cents today)
  • The most expensive Christmas card, was this very same, first card. Sold in November 2001 for £20,000 ($28,158).
christmascard2
Whoa there dad! Hideous Christmas card #2
  • Christmas cards (of a kind) had already been a thing in Ancient China and 15th century Germany.
  • The Greeting Card Association report for 2017 states that:- Nearly 100 million Christmas single cards were sold, add packs of cards, bringing the total for the Christmas card market to one billion cards sold in the UK.
christmascard3
Purr-fectly awful. Hideous Christmas card #3
  • The US apparently sends around 2 billion cards annually.
  • Christmas cards with glitter often cannot be recycled.
  • Millions of tons of cards and wrapping paper end up in landfill sites each year.
christmascard6
Yikes! Hideous Christmas card #4
  • The first Christmas postage stamp in US was issued in 1962.
  • There are around 123 companies that make Christmas/greetings cards.
  • What are Christmas cards made of? Wood pulp, part textile waste, acrylic, inks, parents tears and fake conviviality.
christmascard4
No words…Hideous Christmas card #5
  • According to one magazine, House Beautiful, the polar bear is this years most popular design for Christmas cards. (Get yours now, these animals may be extinct in 15 years if climate change continues)
christmasCard best
My personal favourite – and actually quite fitting

 

 

http://www.greetingcardassociation.org.uk/resources/for-publishers/the-market/facts-and-figures

https://recyclenation.com/2014/12/recycle-greeting-cards/

https://www.whychristmas.com/customs/cards.shtml

http://www.madehow.com/Volume-5/Greeting-Card.html

Advertisements

Christmas Story…

 

***WARNING*** There will be profanities ahead*** 

Wirral Writers Christmas Story 2017

We Three Kings

The three Kings rode from the east. It was unseasonably warm and time was running out.

Useless bastard!”

Frank, language.”

Fuck language, fucking gearstick’s…ngh…get in ya bastard!”

Frank!”

Dad. You’re so sweary.”

Alisha, the day you get your own car and do your own…argh…bastard…Christmas shopping…grr…don’t talk to me about effing swearing. Gotcha!”

The Signal yellow Austin Allegro belched and farted and grizzled through early evening traffic.

Take the A124, Frank, that’ll take us straight to Canary Wharf, right, right! Frank.”

I always drive this way.”

Every year’s the same.” sighed Alisha popping her right earbud back in.

Dad growled.

Mare, did you bring the list?”

I thought you had it? I told you it was on the hall table.”

I said I was putting water in the friggin car. That was your job, Mare. One list. One-”

I’ve got it.” Alisha waved a white piece of paper at the rearview mirror.

At Blackwall roundabout, the traffic slowed, slowed and the not so trusty steed ground to a halt.

Fuck! Fuckfuckfuckkity fuck!!” screamed Frank.

Alisha sank lower in the rear seat, aware of other drivers and passengers watching the beetroot faced man having a meltdown in the shittiest car in England.

Once again,” said Mary, “Mind the language.”

Why? Why should I mind my language?”

Mary indicated the backseat passenger with a head motion.

Alisha rolled her eyes.

She’s seventeen years old, Mare.”

It’s true mum. I am. And I do know swear words. In fact we did about them in English, for example did you know the word fuck-”

Alisha!”

It’s a real word mum. Did you know, it appeared as early as the 15th century in some poem about the monks of Ely fucking local wives-”

Alisha King. I don’t care about the fucking monks of Ely. I just want to buy Christmas presents!” Mary cried.

And you just used it correctly as a verb, or is that an adjective?”

Alisha!”

What?!”

Eventually on the move again, after a fashion, the Kings kangarooed along Upper Bank Street. Six eyes straining.

I love the old traditions.” Alisha said, “Such as trying to find a parking space.”

We should have taken the train.” Mary moaned.

What, and carry all it all back with a million other sweaty bodies? No thanks.” Frank made a yipping sound. “There!” He ground the gears, and his teeth. “Shit! There’s a bike in it.”

They drove round and around the parking lot until they saw a shopper emerge from the mall. She was wearing themed tacky Deely Boppers; two gold stars danced about her head as she walked.Then they followed her,until she led them to a parking space.

Yay!” cheered Mary as they pulled up. “Okay, what’s everyone need?”

Samsung Galaxy S7; Pink Gold, please.” Alisha thumbed the dial, selecting a new tune and slunk off ahead of her parents.

How about you Frank? I need to find something for Janice and the nephews. Oh, don’t let me forget your dad’s razor.”

He doesn’t need a new razor, Mare.”

That’s not the point love. It’s Christmas.”

What, so we buy shit we don’t need or won’t use or that breaks in five minutes?”

Mary started to make her way to the shopping centre, “Come on love, get in the spirit will you.”

Frank looked at the press of bodies, the trolleys filled to overflowing, crying kids, mums with frayed tempers, the signs plastered across the windows, Christmas Eve Sales, took a preparatory breath and through gritted teeth said, “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men, and Batteries not Included.”

The End!

christmas shopping
The horror of Christmas shopping

 

Merry Booking Christmas…

So, this will be the final post for 2016. I am going to take a break from ‘social media’ during the Christmas period, starting after this post.

It has been an up and down year as regards my writing. I had three short stories accepted for publication; e-magazines and actual paperbacks, I completed a novel (100,740 words) that I had begun in 2014, and submitted it for consideration (awaiting response!) And also completed a story for Wirral Writers anthology (5,000 words) plus two poems – that we will be publishing early 2017. I had six rejections and am still awaiting to see if four other submissions have made the grade. I joined National Novel Writing Month, reaching the 50,000 word target, thus securing myself a certificate (that I couldn’t print my name on as it’s a PDF) and the knowledge that I can work without distraction; sort of!

It isn’t complete yet, that NaNoWriMo story; 50,000 words does not a novel make.  Chuck Wendig – terribleminds blog – has some great stuff to say about NaNo and writing in general; http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/10/27/why-you-should-do-nanowrimo-and-why-you-shouldnt/

I’ve lost count of how many word counts I have done ,and  worrying that I haven’t written enough words, or too many; how on earth am I going to cut that 13,000 down to the requisite 7,000? I am beginning to realise – I am a writer, this is what I do. Oh sure, I have a day job (a real job some might say). I used to be a painter – no not houses, a real painter! Did I sell stuff? Yes I did. Did I make a living from it? No I bloody well didn’t. And it looks like writing will be the same. I know quite a lot of writers now, in fact, I know more writers than I ever did visual artists, and none of them is wealthy. NONE. The world is not really geared towards creative types; unless you create a sit-com (preferably American!), an advert for silky legs or yoghurt that’s great for your gut bacteria.

But it’s the continuous trying that makes us what we are, not the fails, in the words of Michael Jordan, Sportsman:- “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

 

Oh, so it’s all about money?! I hear you say. No, it isn’t. I would be delighted to have a book published by an actual publishing house. I’d wet my pants if it got turned into a movie! The acceptance of my creativity is far more exciting and important than mere pounds, shillings and pence – but it would be lovely to have some! I look forward to writing something that I myself knew was as good as J.G Ballard or Tim Powers or Angela Carter, that would be this writers dream. Most of all though, creative types have heart, and that’s worth more than any cheque.
So, next year, keep writing, keep submitting and hoping and praying…

Maybe Father Christmas will bring me ‘genius’ for Christmas, or ‘excellence’. I never got ‘excellent’ at school – for anything. Maybe some publisher will take pity on me and give a  generous contract! (And if it doesn’t happen, I might go all Hellblazer on them)  Next year, maybe next year….

So in the words of a fictional character, “God Bless us, everyone!” (I just threw up a little)

And in the words of Bob Hope, “If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.”

Success is marked by your inner self, not stuff. In that respect, I have had a remarkably successful year. (By the way, you can feel all fuzzy and warm if you buy books, that way, you keep authors alive!)

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Peaceful New Year,

A x

 

*set image: John Constantine from Hellblazer.

 

 

The Night Before Christmas

This short was written for Wirral Writers, as part of the tradition of writing a Christmas story. This is the first such story I have written – and it does not follow the usual Christmas cheer stereotype.

It’s a version of the famous poem by Clement Clarke Moore; with a cynical twist.

Twas the night Before Christmas

When all through the house

Father Christmas raged.

He wrenched the stockings from the chimney as the children huddled beneath their mothers wings and familiar nightmares danced in their heads, their bowed heads with eyes the colour of sugarplums.

They had just settled down for their mid-winters nap, when out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, that they flew to the windows to see what was the matter. The full moon lit the car slewed into the apple tree, the side lights flashing on and off.

And mother knew it was Nick.

He had made his rapid, disjointed way; whistling and shouting by turns. Calling them by name, “Little Pigs, Little Pigs, Let me come in.”

Now he dashed and danced in an orgy of destruction, loathing and meanness. Paper was shredded and strewn around the room as lights on the tree hiccoughed on and off, on and off. And between each explosive flash of illumination he lashed out. A white face, a frightened face, a crying face, he tore through them like a hurricane. Four huge eyes stared and flinched as Father Christmas, beard askew, demolished their toys – all new.

By turns he laughed and cried, screamed and moaned – on and off, on and off. By turns he slapped and punched one Little Pig after another. Black boot tips sparkle with reflected lights. The skewed fairy smiled her beatific smile from her secure pinnacle. And the sounds of Christmas rang out; glass popping like crackers underfoot, the buzz and zing of an activated thing, paper rustled like dead leaves, “Ho Ho Ho!” He grabbed a bottle and chugged like a train, ears jingle-jangled. They didn’t stir, but remained quiet as a mouse.

They drew in their heads, like fledglings and held tight to mother’s nightie. Then she was wrenched from their grasp, their desperate fingers recoiled as they hunched tight together as Ignorance and Want beneath the cloak of the Ghost of Christmas Present. Mother was lifted in the air and Father Christmas held her name tight between his teeth –“bitch”. His broad, red face laughed and shook, his eyes shone bright as he turned his head, filling his children with dread.

Then, to their surprise he let go his package and laying a finger alongside his nose, he gave a wink and a nod and sprang out of the door to his car, whistling and singing. Grass churned, mud spattered. He cursed and railed as the vehicle pounded its way back and forth to release itself. And they heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.”