In terms of exploiting the inherent avarice of children and subjecting the nation to a relentless retail bombardment, Easter has always been the poor relation of Christmas – the high-street boutique to Yuletide’s designer catwalk. Every child receives the same present at Easter, with the only difference being the brand of egg; unlike Christmas and its great divide between the have’s and have-not’s, every child is therefore uniquely equal, as though Easter had been hatched by a Soviet committee. Festivities span a handful of days and then it’s as you were again. If only December’s month-long consumerist tsunami could be over and done with as quickly. Easter is short, sweet and largely unobtrusive. In essence, the perfect break from the norm.

Although there must have been wet ones, childhood memories of Easter are inevitably soaked in sunshine. Sometimes, this meant the dreaded car journey to a caravan park or camp site, with the latter location very much dependent on the unreliable British climate as to whether or not the holiday was remembered for healthy outdoor activities or indoor boredom, re-reading the same issue of ‘Shiver and Shake’ over and over again whilst parents played cards. The height of spring that Easter represented would also usher in the summer sports like cricket, and the football season was winding down with the imminent Cup Final (as the FA Cup Final simply used to be referred to then) bringing the curtain down on the beautiful game until August.

In contrast to Christmas, TV schedules weren’t unduly drenched in seasonal-themed fare. Yes, there’d be the traditional morning repeats of children’s classics on BBC1, and there would tend to be a ‘Jesus movie’ airing at some point whilst news bulletins would be cut short to accommodate Billy Smart’s Circus; but there was no real genre of ‘Easter specials’ when it came to regular programmes. Sure, there’d be the obligatory ‘Disney Time’, a clips programme linked by a famous name of the day, back when you had to go to the cinema to see a Disney animated classic because they were never screened on the telly; but mostly, TV carried on as usual and there wouldn’t be the kind of disruption that comes with Christmas.

The religious elements of Easter were naturally present, but as my upbringing outside of school was essentially secular, it didn’t impinge much on me beyond the aforementioned ‘Jesus movies’ or the portrait of Christ on the front cover of the Radio Times. As was often the case as a kid, whether illness, a General Election or a religious festival, any time off school was welcome, whatever the reason.

At this moment in time, people are taking a break whilst the media is doing its best to convince them there might not be many more to come. Fresh tensions between the US and North Korea, not to mention the ongoing crisis in Syria and all its terrorist-related offshoots that have recently been remodelled so that any four-wheeled vehicle can now be viewed in the same light as a bomb or machine-gun, could lead some to believe the end of the world is nigh. Yes, there have been better times, though there have been many worse.

When one thinks of, say, the Cuban Missile Crisis, it’s indisputable that the original Cold War certainly posed more of a threat than the current frosty face-off between Russia and the West; the mushroom-shaped shadow of ‘The Bomb’ may never have gone away (and it probably won’t when in the hands of Kim Jong Un), but the fear of nuclear war that hung over my 80s adolescence doesn’t seem to exert the same kind of ever-present paranoia in this century. It’s hard to imagine a government department producing those eerie ‘Protect and Survive’ public information films now; or maybe the powers-that-be simply want us to believe things can only get better.

Each generation that comes of age absorbs the stream of information from media sources (one that is now more abundant than ever before) and naturally comes to the conclusion they are living through dark days; you don’t notice so much as a kid because you think the news is ‘boring’ and parents often shield their offspring from the darkest events that defy an easy explanation – I remember the 1972 Munich Olympics, for example, but only for Olga Korbut and Mary Peters; I was unaware of the Israeli hostages and the whole Black September tragedy until years later; my parents obviously kept me away from all that when it was happening.

Therefore, once you do start to take notice as a teenager or young adult, the world suddenly seems a very scary place indeed. However, if you’ve lived through your fair share of crises on the world stage, you don’t necessarily become blasé, though you do tend to cultivate a more measured response to the latest one. The glut of millennial posts on social media at the end of last year that claimed 2016 to be the worst twelve months ever was received with a pinch of salt by anyone over 35, though from the perspective of an eighteen-year-old, the conclusion ‘Generation Snowflake’ came to was probably accurate. As a member of Spinal Tap once presciently put it, ‘Too mach fakkin’ perspective.’

Anyway, like you (possibly), I’m taking a couple of days off – though I’m not heading for a fall-out shelter; I don’t anticipate an upsurge of views on here for this long weekend, not because none of us will be around come next Tuesday, but because it’s bloody Easter! Enjoy your egg.

© The Editor


EggsIf only we could blame it on the EU or Muslims – I suspect that was the first thought that entered the heads of Mail and Telegraph journos when it was pointed out that the word ‘Easter’ had been quietly dropped from the branding on boxes containing the springtime produce of the chocolate manufacturers. It would certainly chime with some of the silliest Brussels directives of recent years, ones concerning new specifications over the size of sausages, ones that prompt Sun campaigns to ‘save the British Banger’ and so on. It would also fit the classic Fleet Street Islamic narrative of Loony Left local councils banning Christmas decorations on the grounds that they might offend the non-Christian community. Alas, no. This particular move appears to have come from the chocolate companies themselves.

Nestlé deny there has been a deliberate decision to drop the word Easter from their produce this time of year, but it has disappeared none the less, just as it has from the eggs sold by their rival Cadbury. Is this a sinister conspiracy to erase the key word from a Great British Tradition? I don’t think so; it probably has more to do with the fact that businesses – which is, lest we forget, what Nestlé and Cadbury are – have merely picked up on which way the popular wind is blowing and have gone with the secular flow.

The front cover of the Radio Times – in many respects an unsung barometer of the zeitgeist – this week displays a cartoon bunny. When I was a child, the cover of the Easter issue would always be graced with religious imagery; at one time, I suspect only Father Christmas had appeared on more RT front covers than Jesus. The programming on the BBC reflected the roots of the Easter festival as well; aside from the token church services, I remember seeing the enjoyably kitsch 1973 movie of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ on BBC1 at Easter 1979, and even ITV exhibited a reverence for the Christian tradition by spending a fortune on ‘Jesus of Nazareth’, its epic retelling of the Christ legend with Robert Powell in the title role.

After donning a turban for a visit to a Sikh temple in order to win the ‘ethnic vote’ during the last General Election, David Cameron then went on to nail his colours to the Church of England mast in stressing Britain was still a Christian country. On paper, yes it is; but it’s not the Christian Britain I had shoved down my throat in early schooldays, when assemblies would be dominated by the RE teacher reading a Biblical fable, and the entire class would have to close its eyes and recite the Lord’s Prayer in unison at the end of every day before being allowed to leave at 3.30. It’s not even the Christian Britain that marked Harvest Festival with each pupil bringing a tin of food to school that would then be distributed to the pensioners of the parish. I’m not up to speed on the curriculum these days, but perhaps if such a ritual still exists it now bears a name of something like The Non-Denominational, All-Inclusive Multi-Faith Festival?

While the likelihood of a ‘Jihadi Egg’ being manufactured in the shape of a severed head and featuring a cartoon incarnation of a sword-wielding ISIS assassin on the packaging is probably a step too far even for the paranoid fantasies of a right-wing tabloid editor, the removal of a word that a Nestlé spokesman says is so associated with chocolate eggs that it’s no longer necessary to put it on the box isn’t quite the end of the world as we know it. One could argue the disappearance of references to a religious festival from something so frivolous should enhance the presumed dignity of the occasion rather than detract from it.



Thirty years ago, I bought the first issue of a new national newspaper; today, I bought the last. Yes, the Independent remains an online presence, but it’s not quite the same, is it? I don’t buy a paper often, but when I do, I tend to opt for the Indy; the content always seemed well-balanced between left and right to me, attempting to navigate a middle ground where other papers are incurably partisan, something I found refreshing. But what I really liked about the Independent, a factor it will be impossible to reproduce online, was the design of the front cover.

A cover featuring a single image was pioneered by the Daily Mirror at the turn of the twentieth century, when the Times famously featured classified ads on its cover. Ever since it adopted this eye-catching tactic for major news stories, the Independent has stood out from the other cluttered covers on the newsstands, in which a hysterical headline is hemmed-in by free gift offers, quotes from a columnist whose column features inside, and photos of celebrity fashion faux-pas. By its very nature, an online newspaper’s homepage is cluttered, with the need to include links to every section. The single image that gave the print edition of the Independent’s front cover its aesthetic uniqueness cannot have the same impact when viewed on a monitor or a mobile.

The paper may be moving with the times, but by doing so it has undoubtedly lost something special in the process. The Independent stood out from its competitors in the newsagents, but it won’t online. It can’t.

© The Editor