Friday, 26 December 2008

The Second Day of Christmas (Shopping, Murders, and Doctor Who)

Boxing Day, in the years of the misspent childhoods of both the Resident Fan Boy and myself, was a visiting day. In my case, the day was rarely spent at home, we usually visited someone else. In the RFB's case, being the son of Anglican church rector, it was the day that people descended on the rectory, and my husband and his sister circulated with platters of cookies, tarts, and rumballs. The RFB and his sister have been known to perform a dance of their own creation which they call "Doin' the P.K." (Preacher's Kid): "Pass-pass, pour! Pass-pass, pour! Pass-pass, pour! Pass-pass, SMI-I-ILE!"

Neither the Resident Fan Boy nor I miss those days much, especially when I got pressed into tray-passing duties as the persona non grata girlfriend and later daughter-in-law. However, stilted fellowship seems an improvement over what Boxing Day has become in Canada over the the past twenty-five years or so -- an orgy of shopping. It seemed to start in the late seventies to early eighties, a few stores holding Boxing Day sales, while those out walking would look on in bewilderment at the line-ups. By the late eighties, it had become a staple of the news broadcasts on December 26th, the annual film of people camping out all night and storming the electronics and music stores to get stereos, VCRs and televisions half-price. The so-called "Boxing Week" ads turn up on TV and in the papers a couple of days before Christmas. I was nonplussed to find a "Boxing Month" ad on my Facebook page yesterday, for a pizza place, of all things. However, the nadir came a few years ago, when Canadian Tire (a sort of super hardware store, which is, appropriately enough, a box store) came up with an ad campaign that started with a choir in the background: "The season for giving is almost over....Now, it's the season for getting!" I nearly broke the television in response, but I didn't want to camp outside Future Shop on Christmas night to purchase a replacement.

These years, Boxing Day usually means going out to a movie, but it's a little difficult this year with the buses on strike (grrrrr), and we had a challenging Christmas Night. Nothing but crap on television, so we played two favourite DVDs: A Child's Christmas in Wales (a Canadian/Welsh 1987 co-production) and Scrooge, the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol which has yet to be bettered. Younger daughter joined us for the latter, before the Resident Fan Boy took her upstairs for bed --- and she spewed the Christmas dinner all over her bedroom. She's never had a problem with rationing her sweets before, over several Hallowe'ens and Christmases, but for some reason, she had gorged herself on the contents of her stocking. Oh well. I'd made the purchase of one of those wonderful mops with the exchangeable and washable microfibre pads, so we corralled younger daughter in the bathtub and quickly cleaned up the hardwood floors, and started the laundry run to the basement. All of which meant I was still awake at midnight for the sole showing of Carols from King's which used to be a staple of Christmas Eve viewing and is now mystifyingly broadcast in the middle of the night following Christmas interspersed with car and hair product commercials...

It must be time for my favourite Boxing Day song, The St Stephan's Day Murders, written and sung by Elvis Costello:

I knew of two sisters whose name it was Christmas,
And one was named Dawn of course, the other one was named Eve.
I wonder if they grew up hating the season,
The good will that lasts til the Feast of St. Stephen

For that is the time to eat, drink, and be merry,
Til the beer is all spilled and the whiskey has flowed.
And the whole family tree you neglected to bury,
Are feeding their faces until they explode.

There'll be laughter and tears over Tia Marias,
Mixed up with that drink made from girders.
’Cause it's all we've got left as they draw their last breath,
Ah, it's nice for the kids, as you finally get rid of them,
In the St Stephen's Day Murders.

Uncle is garglin' a heart-breaking air,
While the babe in his arms pulls out all that remains of his hair.
And we're not drunk enough yet to dare criticize,
The great big kipper tie he's about to baptize.

With his gin-flavoured whiskers and kisses of sherry,
His best Chrimbo shirt slung out over the shop.
While the lights from the Christmas tree blow up the telly,
His face closes in like an old cold pork chop.

And the carcass of the beast left over from the feast,
May still be found haunting the kitchen.
And there's life in it yet, we may live to regret,
When the ones that we poisoned stop twitchin'.

We staggered downstairs at 8:30 this Boxing Day morning to discover elder daughter had pirated the Doctor Who Christmas special. That's my girl! David Morrissey was particularly magnificent and at 6'4", there are not many actors who can make David Tennant look short. (Silly story, though.) More presents under the tree; we spread them out over the twelve days of Christmas and I wonder if I can face any chocolate today...


bonnie-ann black said...

good work OD! another unofficial niece to adopt! but i didn't want to read anymore about the actual show, so i stopped short -- we are doing our own pirate special and i love david morrisey and i don't care if DW *is* silly. and i'm excited about the reunion of DT and DM!

Persephone said...

I don't mind silly either, but it doesn't last as well as a Doctor Who episode which is genuinely witty or moving. There were a lot of missed opportunities in this one. I think the problem is that Russell T. Davies introduces too many possibilities and then runs out of time to develop them, something that Stephen Moffat (so far) has managed to master. I've only watched the episode once so far so the jury's still out, but I find my final judgment rests on how many repeat viewings I can bear. I can watch episodes like "The Girl in the Fireplace" and "Human Nature/Family of Blood" 'til the cows come home, but I don't ever want to see "Fear Her" again....

bonnie-ann black said...

Ah! i do see what you mean... maryann and i were convinced from sneaking bits we had seen on the internet, that the DM 'Doctor', and all those around him, would turn out to be some sort of role playing game... which turns deadly.

however, it made for a wonderful Boxing Day, chinese food, wine, the Doctor...

yes, and past X-mas DW's were much *meaner* and funnier, and more revealing, about the whole holiday requirements/ambiance thing. still, there were some fine moments (when Jackson remembers what happened to him and his family. DM is a very fine actor)... and the Doctor's speech about his companions breaking his heart (the louse -- how many of their hearts has *he* broken? all of them.)

i know what you mean about the over and over ones -- i cannot bring myself to rewatch "The Doctor's Daughter" it was just such a mess... "Fear Her" isn't my favorite but i don't mind when it comes up in the rotation.

i'm also sad to have seen it because it now means the beginning of the end for DT's tenure at the Doctor.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

WAH! Stop reminding us that DT will be leaving the role!

Seriously though I know what you mean about watching episodes again. Given my initial ambivalance about the finale with the Master, I'm amazed just how many times I've happily rewatched all three final episodes of that season and not just the glorious ending of Utopia and the tantilising Sound of Drums. I never thought I'd rewatch Aliens of London (the Slitheen stories) from S1 of New Who but I was really rather pleasantly surprised by how good they were overall in retrospect. I can watch any of the DT stories really - he's lovely enough to compensate, even if I do have to skip the end of Fear Her because I just want to slap everyone involved for the overloaded ick factor of it all. I think my sympathy for FH largely comes from some great screen caps it generated, not least the dipping fingers in a honey jar (or whatever it is) in Chloe's kitchen... my thoughts at that scene are wrong, so very wrong...