I hate Halloween. I think it is a ghastly, uncultured and typically American spectacle, and I am astounded by its increasing acceptance in Britain. The passing of Halloween is a doubly pleasant occasion for me, as the meaningless starred-and-striped nightmare is given the boot by the best tradition that we have: Christmas.
I need something to get me through the three weeks before the holiday, so I have settled on this column as a suitable way to procrastinate whilst snobbishly casting judgement on my fellow Cantabrigians. My judgement is currently cast upon those who are of the opinion that it is too early to start thinking about Christmas, because they are both wrong and boring (two of the worst crimes). The Christmas lights are up on Oxford Street, so suck it up, press play on Handel’s Messiah, and start preparing for the holidays. Besides, when it means beautiful carols, food and drink galore, and the general merriment of the festive season, why wouldn’t you want it to be Christmas yet?
“My girlfriend always complains that I don’t let her sleep in my single bed with me. I appreciate the affection, but there is not enough room for us both and I can’t sleep if she’s there too. How do I learn to sleep in small places or, alternatively, convince women that I am always right?”
It has always been my opinion that when you are truly comfortable with someone’s presence it is often as if they are not even there. I suggest that you be a gentleman and show your girlfriend the respect and affection she deserves by inviting her to share the single bed, and I am sure that you will soon find the problem was with you and not her. A question similar to this was answered in the perennial and much-loved sit-com ‘Friends’, where a desperate Chandler tries to escape the sleep-denying affection of his girlfriend and ends up inadvertently throwing her off the bed. Whatever you do, do not put your girlfriend in hospital, it will end up nearly as bad for you as your alarming suggestion of trying to convince women you are always right.
“Is there a correct way to wear a poppy?”
This is a topic on which I am afraid I had to plead ignorance, but I was luckily rescued and enlightened by a good friend that I had not previously considered particularly well-informed about anything of use. Although my initial answer was that it surely mattered far more whether one really makes any effort to contemplate the horrors of that catastrophe and the sacrifices of the soldiers that died for what was, in essence, the most absurd misunderstanding-cum-extended-family-dispute in history, the actual answer turns out to be that the leaf should be pointed towards 11 o’clock – I will assume that the reader can work out why that is. The true moral of this story is that everyone has some knowledge to contribute, even if they do support Wigan Athletic.
“As a modern man, I am torn between the physical comfort of tracksuit bottoms and my sense of dignity. Is there anything wrong with dressing casually for comfort?”
You have clearly accepted that your tracksuit bottom affliction is directly at odds with dressing in a dignified and civil manner and you are therefore close to salvation; all you have to do now is suppress this ridiculous notion of dressing casually for comfort and find yourself some actual trousers (there is a wonderful shop on Sussex Street, ‘Trotter & Deane’, that I am sure would furnish you with a lovely pair).
And if you are worried about being seen to dress too well, I am reminded by a story recounted by the late Sir David Tang (by whom this column is partly inspired) on the hallowed pages of the Weekend FT about a friend that attended his university exams in his morning suit and topper to ensure he could leave for the races immediately afterwards. Admittedly this friend was educated at Eton, but it would be nice if young men had the confidence to dress properly in Cambridge. In short, there is never an excuse for looking slovenly in public, so put on some proper clothes. A tailcoat may possibly be too far.
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