Happy Easter! I’ve been looking forward to this.
You know how it is: it gets past July, and the shops start filling with mince pies and gooey puddings. Where once the supermarket stocked organic asparagus, now they stock 400 varieties of advocaat so you can snowball your brain into a highly flammable soufflé.
You go into a shop – or, God help you, work in a shop – and the permanent soundtrack becomes one of enforced jollity and tinkly sleigh-bells.
Like an old dinghy, Cliff is taken from his normal abode at the back of the cupboard under the stairs, dusted off, inflated as much as his undoubtedly gaping hole will allow (never inflated enough to smooth out the billion wrinkles) and shoved outside to be played with by people who don’t know what real fun is.
And after a few months, it dawns on you that soon it will be 25th of December again, and time for the universe to stop so we can all listen to Auntie Marjorie tell us what’s wrong with “the blacks”. (Maybe you don’t have an Auntie Marjorie, in which case you’re lucky. She’s the kind of woman who makes you want to climb a tree, then pull it up after you.)
But Easter isn’t like that. It’s not a chore. Cliff remains invisible. Easter works.
For a kick-off, it’s the right size for Britain. We don’t like a fuss. Christmas is a fuss. It’s American in scale, and the only people who truly enjoy it are young kids, people who have young kids, and people who desperately yearn to still be young kids. Whereas Easter just ambles into your life without a lot of hoo-ha, has a couple of drinks, gooses you pleasantly, and leaves before it gets annoying. Perfect.
And it always seems to be a surprise guest too. Just like the best evenings out are the unplanned ones, so Easter is better than Christmas. Christmas is like one of those “let’s go to Dublin, all 17 of us, it’ll be great” parties, which ends up being too desperate and organised, like orienteering with a bladder complaint. Easter, however, is like going for a quick drink after work and ending up eating magic mushrooms off a Turkish prostitute at 4am. You never saw it coming, but my God it’s welcome.
You see, its impossible to work out when Easter happens. Figuring out the correct date for Easter is like nailing custard to a wall. I see the eggs in shops, but not even Tesco has the kind of budget required to produce in-store displays for all the possible dates Easter can fall on. So instead I rely on colleagues to tell me when its here.
And who tells them? Their kids. And who tells the kids? Teachers.
(I have no idea how teachers know this stuff. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that teachers are magic.)
But it’s not just the meandering chronology of Easter that I like: it’s the fact that I have no clue which of the 4 days is an actual “thing”. Friday? Sunday? Both? Maybe the Monday – or is that just a holiday because we’re all meant to get hammered on Sunday? Is that in the bible – thou shalt drink a KFC Bargain Bucket full of gin to celebrate Our Lord crawling out of a cave? Who knows. And it’s too late for me to find out; I’ve slipped off the learning curve, and all that gin and chicken-fat has addled my mind.
Which brings me to the traditional Easter food: chocolate eggs and rabbits.
Think about that: eggs and rabbits. You’re all bright people, so I’m sure I don’t need to point out the pagan symbolism of mating and birth that is contained in the rabbits and eggs iconography. It’s spring-festival, captured, colonised and castrated by dull old Christianity. Just like the feast of Bacchus, or as we know it today, Christmas. Pagans knew how to have fun: get pissed at Christmas, and get laid at Easter. But instead we give our children the symbols of sexual adventure, which are, as you’d expect from Christianity, expensive, hidden, wrapped in shiny paper, and hollow.
Personally, I don’t like chocolate, which might be the only minor problem I have with Easter, and it doesn’t stop me from buying eggs for my nephews. I loved chocolate when I was a kid, and have the fillings to prove it. But if you stop eating it for about 4-6 weeks, you lose the taste for it forever. It’s surprisingly bitter. Sure, it seems sweet, but that’s just the insane doses of sugar they put in it to hide the real taste. Say goodbye to your pancreas, chocoholics!
But my favourite thing about Easter is that it’s a perfect break from work. Four days is spot on. Not enough time to get bored, and two whole weekends, back to back. There’s often a good thing on telly, and even if there isn’t, there are bracing hills to climb, happy days at the zoo, or other splendid adventures.
And even when its over, I know that soon it’ll be May Bank Holiday too. But don’t ask me how soon: only teachers know that stuff.
And finally: it’s one year today since I got diagnosed with cancer. And I’m fine. I don’t believe in any of that Zombie Jesus mumbo-jumbo. I’m not reborn. The only miracle was the NHS, so praise be to socialism!
So for once, this blog is devoid of my usually snarky cynicism. No piss and vinegar. I like Easter. But don’t worry, I’ll get better: it’ll soon be Christmas again!