Sunday, December 19, 2004

Christmas markets

I like Christmas. I just hate Christmas markets.

I'm a practicing non-believer, so the festive season is not about religion for me personally. But since it promotes a general feeling of good will - that's OK.

But no amount of re-runs of "A Christmas Carol", whether re-versioned with Eastenders' Grant Mitchell (surprisingly good) or even the Muppets (saved by Gonzo's performance), can assuage my humbug feelings when it comes to Christmas markets.

Unfortunately Belgium is hooked on them. They're everywhere - and getting bigger every year. The Brussels market takes up the whole of Place St Catherine - a huge wide avenue which used to be the site of a canal quay in the centre of Brussels, and is therefore surrounded by fabulous seafood restaurants. It looks beautiful, with an ice rink in the centre surrounded by little wooden huts, and a massive Ferris wheel giving spectacular views over the whole Dickensian scene. It's not the sugar sweet imagery that I dislike but the actual content. For, underneath all the mulled wine and stapled-on snow covered rooftops, it's really... a CRAFT market.

I hold it to be a self evident truth that craft markets are spawned by Satan. They fill our homes with crappy little hand-made pieces of tat that could not possibly make it across the threshold without being disguised as "authentic peasant craftmanship". Even worse, the stalls are often populated by the people who actually made this rubbish. They have that fake humble pride in their little offerings and would love to tell you all about the history of each article and how they made it.

I just want to say, in a tone of awe and wonder "You made this yourself?". And when they nod deprecatingly, I want to lean over conspiratorially and mumble "You sad bastard".

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