In this marvellous new era of cancel culture, cultural appropriation fury, wokeness, scrupulous PC-ness, gender neutrality and fluidity, and cries of racism at every turn, it comes as no surprise that the dodgy word ‘Christmas’ should be under threat. Don’t tell me you’re one of the stuffy old crowd who still think it’s acceptable to use? Naughty, naughty. Step up and get with the programme.

As it happens, I’m feeling pretty smug and sanctimonious as I cheerily now talk about the December ‘Happy Holiday’ season, (pass the sick bucket), having been re-educated by younger zealots. Can we still use the word ‘festive’ or ‘cheer’? Apparently so. Phew. I can tick those off my cancel list. I nearly slipped recently when I mentioned ‘Father Christmas’ to a sensitive young soul. Of course, I had to hold my head in shame. A forgiving Gen Z-er politely explained that ‘father’ is no longer acceptable, but we can use the word co-parent or second biological parent instead. So, here goes. Red-costumed co-parent Holiday and their reindeer will with any luck cross the minefields and wastelands of cool wokery in a cheery Holiday sleigh to deliver gifts to children of neutral gender around the globe.

What about holly? Nope, name appropriation. Yuletide? Hm, pagan connotations and actually, you’re cheating. You know very well it’s another way of saying the C word. That’s below Santa’s belt – who by the way is gender fluid and of indeterminable skin colour, lest you forget. And on that subject, let’s not discuss Santa’s weight, another thorny issue. Santa, you see, believes in self- celebration and body confidence and joy so whatever gender fluid Santa’s weight, it’s none of your damned business so leave them alone. They also dress up in a red costume because it’s cheery. They are not pretending to be a Mexican or Zulu and it’s more a question of wearing something warm and cosy against harsh weather conditions in the freezing place where Santa hangs out.

Apparently, we need to be mindful this happy holiday ‘season’ (yep, that one’s okay) not to offend or cause distress to anyone of any religious, political, or sexual persuasion and to keep our thoughts and opinions firmly to ourselves. And above all, while scrabbling to live up to the expectations of the more enlightened Gen Z and Millennial generations this December, do trot out that much vaunted, asinine and immortal phrase used by every potential troll on X masquerading behind a saccharine avatar: ‘In a world in which you can be anything, be kind.’ That way, you may even get a sustainable, self-destructible, eco friendly-unwrapped gift under the recycled paper Holiday spruce. Happy Holidays y’all!

Soft as snow

In the bleak mid-winter back in the days when people could still find a backbone and a funny bone, we used to cope with atrocious winters in the UK. As a student at Leeds University, I got completely used to wading through snowbanks to get to my icy, shared student accommodation where you had to put a 50 pence piece in the meter for lights and any hope of a bit of warmth from a two-bar electric heater. If you ran out of your meagre dosh, then you sat in the dark or invested in candles and did your research and reading under a blanket, with a woolly hat on and fingerless gloves. No wonder we all relished the Four Yorkshiremen Monty Python sketch so much. And no, going to the university library at night wasn’t an option with the Yorkshire Ripper stomping about the streets looking for another female victim to add to his kill list. Oh those were the days, eh?

But hey, we had a ball and never let a psychopath stop us from having fun and partying. We just stayed in a pack. On my last visit back to Leeds, I got the shock of my life. In the student union where we held raucous demos and political debates, drank way too much cheap draught beer and listened to live music from the best punk bands, and major pop and rock bands of the era, gentrification had struck. Yes!

There was – God forbid – a nail and massage parlour, a mumsy, cheesy bar with not a spot of sawdust in sight and fancy and expensive craft beers served in bottles. If that wasn’t depressing enough, there were menus of tapas and vegan specialities – not a chip butty nor a white sandwich with bacon and lashings of butter anywhere. In some panic, I raced to where the Leeds Student Newspaper office used to be, a regular hangout for me as I was one of its young scribes. Gone. Replaced by a Leeds Uni memorabilia gift shop selling logoed hoodies and sweatshirts. Students these days have all gone soft. Even in the library building, they’d installed a Starbucks. Give me strength.

And now British newspapers are full of dire warnings about snow. Snow, that fluffy white stuff that in the North we took in our stride (literally) and never mewled about because it was winter and white stuff happens in winter, don’t you know? The populace appears to have gone as soft as the snow that they hide from in their centrally heated homes. Isn’t it time for Britons to man/woman/they up and find a bit of fighting spirit before the whole country turns to slush?