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OPINION: Government scrooges killing our Christmas gatherings is one step too far for me

PUBLISHED: 09:00 29 October 2020

Victoria Derbyshire, who has apologised for comments she made saying she would

Victoria Derbyshire, who has apologised for comments she made saying she would "break the Rule of Six" to have her family of seven together this Christmas. Picture: PA

It’s beginning to look a lot like a miserable Christmas, says Rachel Moore

Stuff John Lewis’ festive ad. The only debate between now and Santa’s sleigh taking off in seven weeks, elves’ temperatures permitting, will be will you or won’t you…?

Break the rules this Christmas?

Whatever those rules may be. Will you be a follower or a breaker?

As police chiefs square up to the public warning police raids on homes breaking the Rule of Six around the Christmas table, the public is rolling up its sleeves to fight for a traditional family Christmas.

Imposing rules at Christmas is the final straw. Enough is enough. The UK is not a police state. We’ve lived under ever-changing rules since March, and we were told by the prime minister in July that it’ll all be over “in time for Christmas” if we “plan for the worst and hope for the best”.

Today, with fine details of festive restrictions still to be decided, as sure as turkeys are bred for Christmas, those rules will be broken, not with reckless gung-ho knees-ups for the whole street, but with responsible sensible gatherings.

Late October is usually when families are deciding who is doing what and where at Christmas. Many people have still to have their first meeting since before lockdown. Christmas was the beacon on the horizon when glasses would be raised together toasting reunions togetherness and the end of a dreadful year.

Now we hear from police and crime commissioners in the West Midlands and Merseyside that their officers will storm family gatherings just as crackers are pulled.

So, communities are working together on this? Doesn’t sound much like collaborative working with these warnings. It smacks of a gulf between the feelings of real people and those setting and imposing the rules.

Threatening to break up people’s Christmas is going way way too far and will only serve to spark people’s ire after having danced obediently to arbitrary restrictions for months.

We’ve done as we’re told, (most of us) watched those paid to lead us breaking rules and showing no regret or remorse, and making excuses that wouldn’t cut it if uttered from the mouths of anyone else, as we scratch our heads at the frankly daft inconsistent and apparently senseless regulations.

We’ve had the jokes – “I can only have six at Christmas but 30 at a funeral, so we’ll gather on December 25 to mourn the passing of the Christmas turkey.”

But those who have endured months of loneliness and solitude, whose hope is being dashed about a family Christmas, will revolt, however the prime minister reacts to calls for an emergency summit to decide how the UK will face the festive season.

The ‘radical action’ advised by Sage’s (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) professor John Edmunds – a ‘circuit breaker’ across the whole country to make a relatively safe and normal Christmas achievable – is a hammer to crack a nut approach.

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TV presenter Victoria Derbyshire felt compelled to apologise this week for saying she would have seven around her table, come what may. She said it felt irresponsible to say it, but she didn’t believe she was “alone in feeling this way”.

Too right she’s not. We all need to weigh up what we believe is responsible to do without putting anyone at risk with a backdrop of the prediction that there could be 25,000 people in hospital with Covid by the end of November.

The responsible approach would be to follow social distancing, hands, face and space rigorously until Christmas and then lock ourselves away for that lovely lull between Christmas and New Year.

Tradition at Christmas is what people want – and to be sensible because they will be with people they love – and then hunkered down afterwards with cheese, books and Netflix and a warm memory of normality.

Perhaps this could be the rule. A period of good sense throughout December, followed by a day of togetherness, then a period of isolation, together or apart.

New Year will be a damp squib anyway this year and this is a perfect compromise to be with who we want to control the spread of the virus.

Age is no barrier: What cheek. A study found people lose their spark and the “get up and go” to try new things when they hit 54.

Drive fades and the over-53s need more to motivate them to get going.

Tell that to John Starbrook, who, at 87, was the oldest runner in the 2018 London Marathon, completing it in eight hours and 21 minutes. He started running at 53.

I’ve no idea who the Norwegian study spoke to, but the 54-pluses I know have buckets more uumph and joie de vivre than a lot of twenty-odd-olds, and fit far more into their lives, leaving the young ’uns in the dust behind their heels.

Casual work: peaking of heels, the outfits of newsreaders and television presenters feel like anachronisms.

Women in high heels and tight dresses look like they’ve stepped from a different era.

It just feels wrong after months of us schlepping around in casuals, even into work now when face to face meetings are so last year.

Poor dry cleaners are struggling because at home comfies don’t demand their services, and all the suits, smart coats and dresses are hung in wardrobes.

I can’t imagine struggling into the corporate dresses and heels of yesteryear ever again. Will this be another legacy of Covid – the work wardrobe?


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