My column on Britain's and Europe's Christmas holiday without end attracted a bit of pushback from readers across the pond. For example:
Oh dear. I do like your stuff normally but this nonsense you have produced about the Xmas holidays us lazy Brits take is irritating crap. Just because the Yanks are good little wage slaves it's not a template.
In any event average hours for a full time job per year in the UK are around 1950 for a 37.5 hour week. Most are lucky to get a couple of days for Xmas – many of course work it. Thirty or so years ago one man/woman could work in a relatively average job, buy a house, get a decent pension and send his kids to university. Now both parents have to work their arses off just to keep head above water. Who benefitted from that change? Is it "unsustainable"?
A few hundred years ago people worked about 160 days per year – the rest was for drinking dancing and f**king. We are so sophisticated now that our governments want us to die at our desks. Aren't we lucky?
So, just to enrage RB and his compatriots even more, here's another one. Fourteen years ago, a psychology prof suggested that the stress of having to return to work on January 2nd could cause mental illness in many Britons. Which thought, along with a couple of other topical news items, prompted this Telegraph column on "Seasonal Stockholm Syndrome"...
Cary Cooper, Manchester University's ubiquitous Professor of Organisational Psychology, has been much mocked for suggesting that Britain is in the grip of "post-bank holiday depression syndrome" caused by being forced to return to work on January 2. But, as I noticed when motoring in to The Daily Telegraph, January 2 is an unusually stressful day. I'd promised to give my editor a lift, so I swung by his in-laws', where he'd been staying for the festive season. To my surprise, the place was surrounded by police cars, while a crack SAS team was crawling through the privet.
"He's got Seasonal Stockholm Syndrome," explained an officer. "Refuses to come out."
"That can't be right," I said. "He can't stand his in-laws."
"You see it a lot this time of year. They wake up on Christmas Day disoriented and confused, not knowing where they are. But by Boxing Day they're getting used to it, and by Christmas Holiday Thursday they've started to bond with their captors. Your friend here held out longer than most. We didn't get the video till New Year's Day."
He took me into the operational control unit and pressed a button. The screen flickered to life and I was aghast: there was my editor, but in a hideous pullover. "I am not being held against my will," he said in a dull monotone. "Everyone is being very nice to me, especially Auntie Beryl. I have no desire to return to the so-called real world and my so-called normal life. I am far happier just playing Cluedo and watching The Best of The Black and White Minstrel Show. For the first time in my life, I feel truly fulfilled." A doilied plate with a slice of Yule log on it suddenly came into shot and the screen went blank.
"But, officer," I cried, "look how glassy-eyed he is!"
"That'd be the sherry, sir."
Half a mile down the road, a Mondeo jack-knifed in front of me and sent me skidding up on the mini-roundabout. A crazed maniac leapt from the car, pulled my door off, ripped the bus stop out of the ground and brought it down on my knees.
"Aaaiiieee!" I screamed. "What are you doing?"
"Sorry, mate," he said. "It's Post-Christmas Road Rage, innit?"
"Road rage? But the roads are practically deserted."
"That's why I'm in a rage," he said, retrieving my kneecap from the gutter. "I set off expecting to be stuck in contraflow and jerking along in second gear, and instead I'm cruising along at 50, not a car in sight."
"Well, a lot of people are still on their New Year break . . ."
"Exactly. I can't handle the lack of stress. I turned into the high street, ready to jump the lights and shout 'Tosser!' at the git in the next lane, only to find there wasn't one. Look at this." He opened his passenger door and 37 cassettes of Jeremy Irons Reads A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu came tumbling out. "My new audio book. I was hoping to be up to the madeleine by Hammersmith. Instead, I'll be lucky if we've reached the third paragraph."
Round the corner, I espied a once familiar figure weeping uncontrollably. This was Dr Tricia Cusack of Birmingham University, who was briefly famous in the week before Christmas for writing a thesis attacking the snowman as a symbol of oppressive racist patriarchy. Yet now, barely a fortnight later, she was standing distraught in her front garden looking down at a small puddle.
"M-my media celebrity," she blubbered. "It j-just melted away." Tears rolled from her cheeks and dropped into the sodden lawn. "Up to Christmas Eve, they all wanted me. Radio 5 Live, Sky News. Attacks in the Daily Mail. My career was so hot, and now it's vanished without a trace."
It was obvious that Dr Cusack had a bad case of Yuletide PMT - Post-Media Trauma. "W-what am I going to do?" she snuffled. "When I found Frosty the Snowman, I thought I was set up for life. Bloody men."
Half a mile on, someone threw a "No Parking" sign off the overpass and shattered my windscreen.
It was Debbii, my neighbour's 13-year-old daughter who over the holidays had undergone a noticeable transformation. "I've got very bad TITS," she told me.
"Oh, I wouldn't say that," I muttered, somewhat embarrassed.
"Tetchy Implanted Teen Syndrome, you moron," she snapped. "I asked me mum if I could have a pair of implants for Christmas 'cuz I wanted to look like Britney and get a really cool job like doing the weather, but then, the day after Boxing Day, I got a letter from breakfast telly saying it's not enough to be a 42DD, you have to be able to read as well. And then the papers found out about the implants, and now Darren's selling pictures of me on the internet. I wish I'd never had the stupid things."
"Now listen here, young lady," I said sternly. "An implant isn't just for Christmas, it's for life - well, 10 or 15 years, give or take a leak or two."
Finally, I reached Canary Wharf and to my amazement spotted my colleague Craig Brown, hollow-cheeked, naked and cowering round the back of the dustbins. "I've got Festive Columnar Withdrawal Syndrome," he mumbled. "I should never have quit cold turkey."
"I was halfway through my traditional post-Christmas column on cold turkey when I thought, oh, sod it, I'll just take two weeks off like everyone else. Now look at me. I've got the shakes."
"That's because you're sleeping naked in a car park. C'mon, man, put a suit on, and get into the office. There's a January 13 column with your name on it."
~from The Daily Telegraph, January 6th 2001. Don't forget, many of Mark's British, Canadian, American and other columns can be found in his new book The [Un]documented Mark Steyn. It's available in America from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and even Costco (at a bargain price, too). In Canada you can pick it up from Indigo-Chapters, Amazon and McNally-Robinson. And, wherever you are on the planet (well, maybe not Pyongyang), you can be reading it within seconds - via Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks. But right here at SteynOnline is the only place you can get a personally autographed copy for your near and dear ones as a thoughtful gift for the First Monday After Hogmanay bank holiday. To order, simply click here.
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