Non-food for thought

by Laura Doom

It is the season for mundane discussion--strictly undisciplined, no percussion, after reading the front page of 'The Independent' which, of course, it isn't - but then, that's not newsworthy; merely a technical misrepresentation of whatever passes for truth while the discriminating reader is engaged in trivial pursuits:

"The Cost of Christmas"

Among a plethora of statistics, each self-righteously matched with a cognitively dissonant partner

£12: Average cost per head, in UK, of Christmas lunch.

£12: Cost of a month's supply of grain for a family in drought-hit Malawi.

So--another potential holiday destination 'bites the dust'...

Drifting through a substantial haze, I focused upon an ostentatiously modest box of Xmas crackers on the
dining room|home/office|repository for all things that belong on the floor table the ultimate victim of privation: a one-table family; wondered how many crackers would be needed to accommodate all possible permutations of 5 consumers in redundant, interchangeable pairs, naturally; realized I would have to resort to writing myself a program for the calculation yeah, that kind of haze, and recalled how easily my father would have supplied the answer without a second thought or more likely, without any thought, a strategy he employed whenever obliged to confront a problem, or invited to offer an opinion.

He loved to gamble, and regularly 'invested' in a five-horse accumulator, incorporating cross-doubles and trebles. It could have been a stunning party piece; someone with no academic presumptions who could produce the answer in a reflexive flash...everyone at this table, at least would gape, and utter, in seasoned astonishment, "Amazing--you're a genius. Why aren't you working for NASA?", to which he would have replied, Who?".

Whatever; the unravelling of the mystery: instances of cracker-pulling at this socially sterilized table for five...
The answer is: too many, and we have six crackers, more than enough. I guess everyone present will want to pull one each, with themselves, to ensure the acquisition of a festive hat with a half-life of one nano-moment, an intricate puzzle for which an electron microscope is required but not provided, and an avuncular homily that remains as stale as the day somebody's great-great grandmother coughed it up as a prescriptive panacea. Now; there remains one cracker over which to fight; and how bizarre would Christmas be without a fight to the death, intoxication permitting, between one's nearest and dreariest...

Perhaps I could attempt the design and manufacture of a cracker with five handles; and when all present express their disappointment at the presentation of a solitary cracker, I could exploit my pious reputation and thus provide spiritual salvation, by announcing that an amount equivalent to that saved through sacrificing superfluous crackers had been donated to the drought-stricken population of Malawi.

Only then, inevitably, would conversation flow, submerging this dumb-stricken hedonistic retreat beneath a deluge of knowledgeable minutiae regarding international commercial affairs. It would seem that, due to pressure exerted through global market competition, the manufacturers of these particular crackers were forced to rationalise resort to exploitation and relocate production to Malawi. The Malawi government siphons off charitable donations to pay kitchen staff, whilst the disenfrachised majority relies on income from employment at the cracker factory. Do I accept this unappetising rationale?

Of course; remonstration would be counter-productive (New Year's irresolution), and besides, I'm starving. Hey, gimme some more of that crumbly shit, and hold the cream pie...


Posted on 12/25/2004
Copyright © 2023 Laura Doom

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Amanda Bullington on 02/06/05 at 08:15 PM

awesome piece...really made me think..the beginning reminded me of slam poetry..and i loved the last line..the format was a little hard to read but i'm very glad i read through it!

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