Column: December 7, 2011

I DO not wish to come across as an Ebenezer Scrooge-type figure – unless we are referring to the Scrooge at the end of A Christmas Carol who buys goose for all and sundry even if they’d already got a turkey in. I am not George Osborne, after all.

Nevertheless, I really believe we need to have a rethink with regard to Christmas trees.

My moment of clarity came while I was trying to put together the artificial tree currently standing in my living room. I had already banged my head in the loft retrieving the tree, and then got the box stuck as I was trying to descend the ladder, and hit my head again while trying to dislodge the box, so I wasn’t, admittedly, starting with a blank page.

But it was a ridiculously protracted and dangerous procedure involving the sorting of prickly branches with protruding sharp metal hooks into size order, and the shoving of said sharp metal hooks into small holes, which were covered over with more prickles.

By the end of the ordeal, my poor hands looked as if I’d been using hedgehogs to glue cheese graters to a cactus.

I am aware that several of you are sitting there smugly, the smell of fresh pine wafting past your nose, and thinking, “If only the idiot had bought a natural tree, none of this would have happened.”

But I have tried having a real tree. If anything, they are worse and more inconvenient.

One has to get them into one’s house, through doorways which appear specifically designed not to accommodate the successful passage of trees. And getting them out without coating the floor with hard-to-shift piney booby traps is harder than carrying a house of cards through a wind tunnel.

“Oh, but you have no music in your soul,” several of you reply, maintaining optimum smugness levels. “A real tree is natural.” And I say this to you. There is nothing natural about having a tree in your house unless you are Tarzan.

So an artificial tree stared at me lopsidedly, daring me to continue. I untangled a cable and stepped forth, festooning the thing with lights. But the cable was a loop, which meant that, in order to have a fairly equal distribution of light bulbs, I had to get close and hug the tree. I was comprehensively spiked in the face and neck, but I stuck to my task.

I finished and pulled away, my nerves as shredded as my hands and face. I left the bauble placement to my children and retreated into the loving embrace of a cup of tea. And when they had finished, I had to admit that, for a six-foot simulation of a fir tree plonked in the corner of my living room, it looked pretty good.

But at the back of my mind was that nagging thought: in a month’s time, I was going to have to repeat the process in reverse. I am not saying this is going to ruin Christmas for me, but it won’t help. And if I’m forced to watch the Christmas episode of Downton Abbey, it could tip me over the edge.

I refuse to believe that my issues surrounding Christmas trees are not representative of the state of mind of the populace.

So I came up with an idea. I don’t know if Duncan Bannatyne or that new woman from Dragons’ Den – the one who looks like the man from The Mighty Boosh – read this column, but if they do I am willing to go halves for a £500k investment.

I am going to market six-foot Christmas tree screens. That way, the tree can stay in the room all year round. Then, on the first of December, or two weeks later if you are middle-class, you can whip away the screen and – Ding Dong Merrily On High – it’s instant Christmas.

And, on Twelfth Night, back goes the screen, completely insulating occupants of the room from any inadvertent thoughts of goodwill to all men. I am sure George Osborne would approve.

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