Why I love the John Lewis Christmas advert

The John Lewis Christmas advert has become as hotly anticipated a festive tradition as mince pies and making a show of yourself on the work night out (or is the latter just me?) We’ve had, amongst others, last year’s snowman trekking to the shops to buy his snowlady a pair of gloves, and the kid who just can’t wait for the big day to arrive so he can give his mum and dad his (shoddily wrapped, if I’m honest with the tyke) presents. This year we follow the tale of the bear and the hare – the bear has never had any festive fun before, as it hibernates throughout Christmas, so cannot relate to the excitement in the run-up to December 25th, and goes for a season-long kip, the same as every other year. The hare is gutted for the bear and is determined to involve it this year. The hare does this by waking the bear up with a gift of a John Lewis alarm clock WHICH MIRACULOUSLY MANAGES TO DISTURB THE BEAR’S ACTUAL HIBERNATION and they and all the other woodland creatures have the best Christmas ever. Probably.

Here’s this year’s offering:

I’ve seen a few people whinging about it on Facebook and Twitter. “Not as good as last year’s!” grumbled a few. “It just goes to show how commercial Christmas has become!” whinged others. “How are woodland creatures relevant to Christmas?” sighed someone else. Well, I love it. Firstly, I used to work for John Lewis, and didn’t work there long enough to grow to resent it like most other people who worked there at the same time as I did, so I have green blood and am staunchly defensive of my beloved former employer. (The brainwashing worked, clearly.) I watched the advert for the first time with a couple of my former John Lewis colleagues on Friday night – see, John Lewis help to form lasting friendships as well as ensuring that all woodland animals get to enjoy the magic of Christmas! – and was roundly mocked by both of them for welling up slightly when I watched it. I don’t care though. I was just really happy for the bear. Secondly, it reminds me of Animals of Farthing Wood, which anyone who’s around my age will agree was the best and most harrowing cartoon of all time. Next, Christmas isn’t commercial in the Crilly household – obviously we get presents for each other, but it’s genuinely more about the people I spend my festive season with for me rather than the gifts, and I can safely say that I will not be influenced by this year’s advert to the point where I can barely wait to purchase the alarm clock featured in it. And as for the question as to how woodland animals are relevant to Christmas, then I truly am shocked. Why shouldn’t bears, hares and the rest get to enjoy John Lewis’ yuletide wares like all of us? Society is broken if you resent a bear having some festive fun. Cameron’s Britain, I tells ye.

I’ll admit to the fact that John Lewis have a lot to answer for with regards to the ongoing trend for chanteuses who are wispy of voice and physique. But then again, I love Lily Allen, so I am even able to overlook that this year.

Oh, and don’t think for a second that the advert has worked its magic on me to the point where I’ll actually buy anything in John Lewis this Christmas. It’s far too expensive. Plus the service has gone right downhill since we left…

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RECORD OF RAGE – why I couldn’t give a toss what size a shop mannequin was

I’m writing this rant because I have been in a terrible mood all day for no reason whatsoever. This ridiculous article has tipped me over the edge to total rage but has, at least, given me a reason for my previously irrational anger.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/07/size-16-mannequin-flat-stomach-debenhams?CMP=twt_gu

For those too lazy to read it, it basically implies that Debenhams’ recent decision to introduce size 16 mannequins in their stores as well as size 6 ones is just as “harmful” to how women feel about their bodies as the stick-thin ones.

Now, I have as many body hang-ups as the next woman – I will never have a flat stomach; my knees are knobbly; my hips don’t lie. However, the reasons for these “quirks” are a combination of genetics, primarily, coupled with downright laziness on my part – I eat too much crispy duck and pancakes, I am a fond of a glass or ten of Prosecco, and, save, for running for the bus, I don’t do any exercise either. I only have myself to blame for the latter part of this and I accept this wholeheartedly.

Don’t get me wrong. Don’t for a second imagine that I wander around in a smug self-satisified haze because I am happy with my body, flaws and all. I’m not hugely happy with every aspect of my body by any stretch of the imagination. I shy away from body-con and mini dresses, because I know they will not suit my figure. I had a whinge last Friday night because I looked like a burst sausage in the dress I was going to wear. Similarly, I wish I could motivate myself to do some bloody exercise – I know my lifestyle is detrimental to my health. However, I can safely say that I have never walked into a shop and been influenced by the mannequins in my midst. Equally, whilst I may admire the majority of supermodels’ figures, I know that clothes will look just a tad different to them than they do on me, because that’s life, and because if everybody looked the same, we’d get tired of looking at each other, to paraphrase Groove Armada.

‘What they [the size 16 mannequins] represent is even more harmful, in fact, because they’re pushed on us as something “real”.’ writes Harriet Walker, the author of this tripe. Errr…sorry to break it to you, but some women are a size 16 and have flat stomachs, and therefore this body shape is real. One contributor to the comment section states that “a tall woman with an athletic build can easily be size 16 without fat rolls.” Quite. It might not be a commonplace occurrence, but such people are in existence, and equally some people featuring the dimensions of the usual mannequins in use i.e tall, size 6 and flat-stomached walk this planet too. I’m size 12 on top and a size 14 on bottom. I’m not represented in mannequin form anywhere. BOO-FRICKIN’-HOO.

My issue is with people like Kate Moss coming out with crap like “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” That’s damaging. My issue is with impressionable young girls witnessing the likes of Miley Cyrus morphing from the clean-cut wholesome Hannah Montana of old to a sex-crazed semi-naked maniac. That’s damaging. My issue is with the likes of ASOS employing a number of models that look like they are about to keel over due to malnutrition. That’s damaging.

My issue is with nonsensical articles, such as the one that inspired this diatribe, patronising women into thinking that any of us give a toss whether a mannequin in a shop has got a flat stomach or not. If a woman is truly influenced by the vital statistics of a shop model or a photo of Abbey Clancey’s stomach in Heat magazine, to the point that she feels bad about herself, then I’d hazard a guess that there are far deeper-rooted psychological issues that need to be addressed.

Instead of highlighting how unhappy all women supposedly are because they don’t fit into the body beautiful ideal, can we not focus on promoting healthy body image, and educating young girls that, as long as they’re healthy and happy, it doesn’t matter what size you are?

RANT OVER. (For now.)

Rainbow laces campaign – #RBGF

Every so often, Joey Barton takes a break from winding people up on Twitter to actually say something that makes some sense.

This is one of those times.

Barton is one of the high-profile stars lending their support to the campaign which aims to highlight the issue of homophobia in football. It’s a joint venture between gay rights charity Stonewall and the betting firm Paddy Power, and has seen rainbow laces sent to all professional teams in England and Scotland during the past week.

I think it’s a great idea. It is addressing an issue that should not even be an issue in this day and age. There are currently no openly gay players in top-flight football – the odds that this is actually the case are tiny. Yet fear of a negative reaction from teammates and fans – not to mention the all-important implications on their commercial interests – is clearly preventing gay players from coming out of the closet.

Everton (go ‘ed my Blue boys!) were the first Premier League club to confirm that they were lending their full support to the campaign. Phil Jagielka, their captain, said “For me and the rest of the lads at Everton a player’s sexuality is not important, but their ability on the pitch is. We don’t tolerate discrimination of any kind at Everton and the whole club works hard to get that message out to the fans.”

A great message and a great example to be setting.

Unfortunately Everton are in the minority. The Premier League and almost half of its clubs have expressed “disappointment” that they weren’t consulted sooner as the involvement of Paddy Power meant that their “commercial interests” would be compromised – yet another example of the fact that, in football, money is all that matters. Barton expressed disbelief that a TalkSport debate was musing over the “technical issues” faced by players changing their laces, confirming that he’d worn them twice and had not experienced any problems.

Well I’m sorry but this all sounds like a cop-out to me. Quite apart from being a PR nightmare, for these high-profile clubs to take this stance and blame “lack of time”, “commercial conflict” and “technical issues” as excuses is just no good. If this were an anti-racism campaign, I doubt hugely that it would have been met with so much resistance, whether Paddy Power were involved or not.

Granted, the hashtag #RBGF, which stands for “Right Behind Gay Footballers”, isn’t the best choice of tagline for such a campaign – I refuse to believe that it’s an innocent choice of language – but then again, it’s been included in over 230 million tweets since last Sunday, according to Stonewall’s Twitter, so surely raising awareness in this (admittedly linguistically crass) way is a good thing?

If all of these frankly pathetic reasons are truly why the majority of clubs are reluctant to participate, then Stonewall and Paddy Power need to change tack. They need to liaise properly with the League and with Kick It Out (the anti-discrimination campaigners) to ensure that every nonsensical administrative box is ticked, that all “commercial interests” are content, that all technical issues are addressed, that vulgar and provocative language is not used.

I’m afraid to say that I am not convinced that the outcome would be very different – there’s a long way to go with this particular issue.