Convolvulus is an extraordinarily aggressive weed at this time of year. The chicken coop is under attack. I tear at it but also know that every piece left lying around will produce a new tendril. It seems you have to burn it. I haven’t the time or patience for total eradication and at least it dies off in winter. But as Christmas approaches it becomes a useful metaphor.
For convolvulus reminds me of commercialisation, of commodification, of. let’s name it, capitalism – all the c words. Entering the Warehouse or Mitre 10, or simply walking through the shopping centre, the banal Christmas jingles assault the ear, while the eye is bemused by the multiplicity of invitations to buy some junk. I had to compose a quick poster for the carol service at the Working Men’s Club so googled Christmas images. There were pages of bad design of the worst kind.
Yet Christmas is a complex cultural ritual: the birth of the prophet Christ as a man-god, the charitable work of fourth century Saint Nicholas, the tribal god Woden with his horse, the change of the earth’s orbit. This rich pot pourri has been historically vandalised by magazines, department stores and Coca Cola to see the concept of ‘gift’ reduced to the mass production and consumption of baubles and beads which together with the Boxing Day sales, ‘adds to the GDP’. It is a banal culture we live in and one which deserves to be washed away.
Still, there are a few signs of hope: the range of protestors in Katowice as the emperors fiddle (a new term- macho-fascist); the economist who has calculated the value of breast milk to the GDP, Marilyn Waring reinstating the value of unpaid work to the economy…
Today is a heavy, cloudy day, the wind chime faintly stirs and soon it will rain. The convolvulus will continue to grow. The dog quietly snuffles under my desk. For the moment, all is quiet.