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SARAH VINE: Ho-ho-NO! Christmas isn’t saved for mums in need of a rest 

Rejoice! For Christmas has been ‘saved’. After much to-ing and fro-ing and gnashing of teeth, the Government has announced that families will be allowed to ‘bubble up’ to enjoy the festive season together.

For many people this is a long-awaited chance to catch up with much-missed relatives. 

But for some reason the idea of being trapped in close confines with members of my family for five whole days just fills me with a weary sense of deja vu.

Because, quite honestly, isn’t that what we’ve been doing for the best part of six months?

For some reason the idea of being trapped in close confines with members of my family for five whole days just fills me with a weary sense of deja vu

Let’s face it, Christmas is basically lockdown on steroids. A few days of frenetic panic-buying of stuff we don’t really need, followed by all the shops being closed, kids, everyone stuck at home, bored out of their minds and waiting to be either fed or entertained — and a seemingly endless cycle of cooking and cleaning.

Long, aimless walks just to get out of the house, too much social media and television — and far, far too much alcohol. Although at least at Christmas you can justify having a sneaky Baileys for breakfast. But otherwise, really, it’s no different.

Of course, if you’re a bloke, this arrangement is ideal. In fact, I know many men who have secretly (and not so secretly) enjoyed lockdown, seeing as it mostly involves them barking at Zoom while their spouse takes care of everything else, as well as doing her own work (which, of course, is not nearly as important).

For men, Christmas isn’t much different, except they get to order some nice wine and maybe some expensive cheese.

Ask the women, however, and you’ll get a slightly different response. Each one I know, almost without exception, has had it up to here with being a 1950s housewife. (And mums in the 1950s didn’t also have to hold down jobs, or cope with home-schooling.)

Over Christmas we get to do it all over again — only this time for more people.

Worse, in return for being able to ‘enjoy’ Christmas en famille, the powers-that-be have warned us that we could be subjected to even tighter Covid restrictions in January to pay for it.

Worse, in return for being able to ‘enjoy’ Christmas en famille, the powers-that-be have warned us that we could be subjected to even tighter Covid restrictions in January to pay for it

Worse, in return for being able to ‘enjoy’ Christmas en famille, the powers-that-be have warned us that we could be subjected to even tighter Covid restrictions in January to pay for it

In other words, it will be a lockdown rollover.

Seriously, pass the Valium.

I’m sorry to be such a Grinch, I really am. And like I say, I know my view is far from universal.

But I can’t help thinking that what the nation’s women really need is a break, not more mouths to feed and even fewer supermarket delivery slots to fight over. A chance to dress up, let our hair down and have some fun without having to tidy up afterwards.

I can’t help thinking that what the nation’s women really need is a break, not more mouths to feed and even fewer supermarket delivery slots to fight over

I can’t help thinking that what the nation’s women really need is a break, not more mouths to feed and even fewer supermarket delivery slots to fight over

Which is why, if it were up to me, I would adopt a completely different approach to the festive period. Instead of telling families to mix in the home, I would simply re-open all the pubs, hotels and restaurants — and encourage everyone to dine out this Christmas.

The hospitality industry has been the hardest hit during the pandemic. Many businesses are on life support, and more have gone under.

Already, they’ve been told they may not be able to operate on New Year’s Eve, which will be the death knell for many.

But if the entire nation ditched their burnt turkey and soggy sprouts and ate out over the festive period, it could be just the shot in the arm that struggling hoteliers, restaurateurs and publicans need. Not to mention the rest of us.

Imagine the scenes: twinkling venues full of people laughing and eating and enjoying themselves. Families free from the confines of home and the 900th game of Scrabble. Best of all, NO WASHING UP.

It could be called Eat Out To Elf Out. 

We wouldn’t just be saving Christmas, but an entire industry . . . not to mention my sanity.

I’m sure there’s a practical reason behind the Government’s plan to issue ‘freedom passes’ to people who test negative for Covid. 

But I can’t help feeling there is a whiff of East Germany about having to have one’s papers before accessing services that, until very recently, were open to all. 

Covid is a serious threat — but it is not an excuse to crack down on civil liberties.

Claudia’s Strictly sensational 

Claudia Winkleman professes herself ‘gobsmacked’ at the news she’s landed the Graham Norton slot on Radio 2.

I’m not. Radio 2 is, as far as I can tell, the last bastion of sanity in the BBC, and Strictly Come Dancing co-host Claudia will fit in perfectly.

Claudia Winkleman professes herself ‘gobsmacked’ at the news she’s landed the Graham Norton slot on Radio 2

Claudia Winkleman professes herself ‘gobsmacked’ at the news she’s landed the Graham Norton slot on Radio 2

She’s clever, funny and self-deprecating — a refreshing contrast to the dreary wokelets the Beeb seems to favour these days.

The AstraZeneca Oxford University Covid vaccine is a triumph not only for Britain, but for women scientists (congratulations to Katie Ewer, Sarah Gilbert and Tess Lambe), so often under-represented in the profession.

Unlike Pfizer’s, which has to be stored in sci-fi conditions of minus 70c and administered by Tom Cruise abseiling down the side of a space-shuttle (or something like that), this vaccine can be stored in the fridge alongside the Actimels and week-old hummus.

Not that I wish to detract from the genius of the male brains involved, but it takes a bunch of women to grasp the importance of that.

Two fingers to history  

If you want a snapshot of the times we live in, look no further than the mural of Winston Churchill in stockings and suspenders that was deemed ‘offensive’ by residents of Brighton.

Not because of his outfit — but because he was holding up his trademark two-fingered ‘V for victory’ sign.

Mock the man who saved us from the Nazis by dressing him up in kinky underwear: fine. Show him making a gesture of patriotism: cancelled. Lucky, on balance, that the poor sod is dead.

Are you a Shy Di or a Camilla? 

Watching the latest series of The Crown, it seems to me the entire thing can be boiled down to one question: are you a Diana or a Camilla? Just take my simple quiz to find out . . .

Are you a Diana or a Camilla? Just take my simple quiz to find out . . .

Are you a Diana or a Camilla? Just take my simple quiz to find out . . .

1. Your fiance heads off on a business trip just weeks before your wedding. 

Do you: A) Lock yourself in your bedroom, wondering why he’s being so beastly; or B) Get a blow-dry, sling on a push-up bra and ring an old boyfriend for a few final nights on the tiles, making sure to take plenty of photos so he knows what he’s missing?

2. You’ve just moved into the marital home and are expecting your first child. But the place is a bit run-down, and it’s a long way from a decent restaurant. 

Do you: A) Lock yourself in your bedroom wondering why he’s being so beastly; or B) Pull on some old clothes, roll up your sleeves and get stuck into the decorating?

3. Your first child is six months old and your husband wants to take you on a romantic trip. 

Do you: A) Lock yourself in your bedroom wondering why he’s being so beastly; or B) Call a nanny agency, pack your bikini and head for the airport?

Mostly A: Congratulations, you are a saint. Mostly B: Begone, you evil home-wrecker!

Is J-Lo the most exhausting 51-year-old on the planet? I’m all for empowering older women, but there’s a balance to be made between being an inspiration and a tiresome show-off. 

I fear that mesh catsuit might just have tipped me over the edge.

Is J-Lo the most exhausting 51-year-old on the planet? I’m all for empowering older women, but there’s a balance to be made between being an inspiration and a tiresome show-off

Is J-Lo the most exhausting 51-year-old on the planet? I’m all for empowering older women, but there’s a balance to be made between being an inspiration and a tiresome show-off

My heart goes out to the Cambridges over the death of their dog, Lupo. I’ve lost a dog, and it’s devastating.

The worst part is those people who don’t get it. Dogs are so much more than pets — they are part of the family, with personalities and habits of their own.

It’s not quite the same as saying to someone who’s lost a child, ‘Oh, just get another one’ — but it’s not as far off as some seem to think.

In recent years, veganism has become such a huge industry it’s easy to forget that it is actually quite an extreme lifestyle choice. 

Now we learn that vegans are 40 per cent more likely to suffer from broken bones than wicked omnivores, mainly because they avoid dairy. 

This is particularly worrying given the number of impressionable young girls (my own daughter included) influenced by online pressure groups who portray meat as murder in grisly videos and advocate ‘plant-based’ lifestyles.

Osteoporosis is a serious problem in post-menopausal women, even for those who have eaten a balanced diet all their lives. 

I dread to think what problems today’s generation of evangelical vegans may be storing up for the future.


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