It is, as Auden wrote of the day Yeats died, “the dead of winter.” On this day, with the brooks frozen, the airports deserted, the statues disfigured by snow and the mercury sinking in the mouth of the day, it is my luck to be (re)reading Samuel Beckett.
It’s the only time of the year to read Beckett, really. You couldn’t take any of it seriously in the heat of a summer piazza. He’s no beach read. But at this time of thin light and monochrome landscapes, huddled around a small fire with only your own treacherous thoughts, he’s ideal.
I don’t understand those who praise Dickens, and especially I don’t understand the love of ‘A Christmas Carol’. Each to their own, but to me it’s mawkish, saccharine and untrue. Give me Beckett any Christmas, that muscular, unremitting prose with its unexpected laughter, the laugh of resignation.
And if you want a proper Christmas movie, there’s no better option than ‘Film’. You can keep ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ or ‘Die Hard’ or whatever. THIS is the real Christmas movie.
Gilles Deleuze called it “the greatest Irish film ever”, but don’t let that put you off. Of course Deleuze is always reliably wrong, but it’s still a great movie. Beckett and Keaton in Manhattan. The eyes have it.
PS I have received a petition claiming that the true movie of Christmas is the Muppets version of A Christmas Carol, a complaint I have had to consider seriously. It resolves the mawkish saccharine quality of the original Dickens admirably, it must be admitted.
Nevertheless, I intend to stick by Sam. I think a muppets Godot would be an ever greater masterpiece. How about Kermit and Fozzy as Vladimir and Estragon, Dr Bunsen and Beaker or else Miss Piggy and Gonzo as Pozzo and Lucky, and Scooter or Crazy Harry as the Boy? Tell me you wouldn’t watch that!