Wednesday, December 14, 2005

 

Not in my name

I like receiving presents a lot. I really am not that fussy, I like expensive underwear, scent, cookery books, jewels, chocolates (British, no continental shite), and pretty much anything from Millets the outdoor pursuits shop. Not that I am particularly into outdoor pursuits, I like a nice walk up a hill, but all the small pots and pans and the towels that dry in a minute are fucking excellent. I would not even turn my nose up at a calendar with some nice pictures on it. I mean, giving a calendar implies a wish for the recipient of the calendar to be a bit organised, which some people might take as a cheeky fucking insult, but not me no. I am all big hearted about receiving presents, even if they are a bit shite.

There is only one type of present which makes me feel violent, and that is the Ethical Gift Certificate. You open a card and in it is a voucher, but not a good voucher, like one for WH Smiths or Boots the Chemists, No, it is a shitty voucher telling you that instead of buying you a present, your relative or friend has taken it upon themselves to buy someone else some seeds or a hoe, or a goat. The someone else is a poor starving african, usually, and that is supposed to stop you being insanely furious that your person who would normally buy you something, has decided to buy someone else something "in your name".

I have no problem with your do gooders wanting to do good, as long as they do it quietly and leave me out of it. And that is what God thinks too, as I remember the nuns saying: if you did the first friday prayers with some kind of a goal in mind as a reward for your piety, then God would spot it and say "Oh, she's not coming here for the sacrifice, she is coming here for the reward, the scheming little cunt. There's an extra five years in purgatory for your grandmother now to teach you a lesson". Very often people who are all obsessed with charities and giving are also religious, so they should realise that far from securing a place in heaven with all this ostentatious giving, they have just made Jesus hate them.

I knew these people who asked the guests at their wedding, to give money to a charity, and some other ones, where I think the woman was a little bit mental, who wanted people to adopt goats and wolves and things in their name. Fair enough, and it beats going out and buying forks or boring electrical goods as wedding gifts. If people ask you to buy a hoe for an african, then that is fine. Because they, the recipients are making a choice to have imaginary goats walking around grateful to them, or a village of africans with gleaming hoes to scrape through mud.

The meanest thing about ethical gift certificates is that as well as denying you, the recipient, an actual present, it also denies you the opportunity to decide to be all bountiful and bask in the warm fuzzy at the thought of the happy wolves, or the people gardening on the other side of the world. All the pleasure is in the giving of the certificate, and that is just wrong. Giving should not be a pleasure, it should be hard, you should be handing over something which you would desperately like to keep yourself, so marvellous is the present you have chosen. Receiving an ethical gift certificate is just a vicious disappointment, tainted with the stink of sanctimony, and the unfair picture of your ex-friend, opening their great pile of presents, feeling like they have saved the world and having given their nearest and dearest the square root of fuck all. And you know that the Ethical Gift givers are secretly happy that you hate your present, and that they have especially enjoyed thinking "well, it might just make them a bit less selfish" or "Christmas is not about presents" or "Perhaps this will teach them the joy of helping others". Perhaps it won't. If you want to buy hoes for africans, then go out and buy them fucking hoes. But not in my name, you cunts
Noreen

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