A very ethical Christmas

7 January 2012

Here’s another one, part of an occasional series in these parts, of people from
the newspapers who are, for often undefinable reasons, really, really annoying. Not always undefinable, mind.

This is from a feature in the Guardian’s weekend magazine about what people got their kids
for Christmas. First they speak to the parent, then to the kid. It takes a suspension of disbelief to accept that Matilda is a real person and was not instead created by Viz magazine in one of its
more spiteful moments. If there is hope for the world, it surely lies with Dimitri. I have the suspicion that when he unwraps his cooking class, he might well punch mum, in a sustainable way.

Matilda Lee, Dimitri’s mother Being ethical informs my whole worldview. I’m an editor at the Ecologist, I’ve
a book on ethical fashion, we have homemade decorations, buy an ethical tree, eat
locally sourced, organic food. When the children were little, it was easy to buy them green gifts, but now Dimitri’s six, it’s more difficult. He watches TV, he sees adverts, all his friends talk
about what they’re getting for Christmas. He wants stuff.

This year, as well as a stocking full of arts and crafts and a satsuma, and an adopted snow leopard from "">WWF, I’m afraid he got a Nintendo DS. I am troubled by how it was made, by whom, and what’s going to
happen to it when, inevitably, he finds it uninteresting. Also, I worry about the impact it’ll have on him. We get him outside as much as possible, and the last thing he needs is something to
keep him inside focused on a screen.

We’re in the years when our kids are into the idea of presents under the tree. When Dimitri’s older, I’d like to buy him a day out for Christmas. There’s a place near us that does cooking
classes – he’d love that. If we lived in a like-minded community where everyone bought ethically, it would be perfect, but, for now, I don’t think it would be healthy for him to be very
different from his peers.

Dimitri What did you want for Christmas? A mini car so I can drive to school and a Nintendo DS.

  • Eddie

    jbg – our artifical Xmas tree was bought in the early 70s – didn’t get new one until about five years ago (for £9.99). Our decorations are almost all from 1930s to 1980s. Why do people buy this stuff new every year? Madness.

  • Stanley

    Is the satsuma some new gaming platform I haven’t heard of? I’ll check with my kids.

  • jbg

    Ethical Xmas tree = Asda £15.99. Bought 5 years ago, one lo-energy bulb, fibre optic flashing lights built in, last for years. No forest raping me.

  • D. Shaw

    Oh my God, I thank you, Rod, so much for sharing this with us!

    You just could not make this up.

    And I bet there is absolutely no ‘ethnic’ reason for the poor kid to be called Dmitri. He probably gets beaten up at school because of it.

  • Andy Gill

    I’m writing to Social Services right away. Dimitri should be taken into care.

  • Amanda

    Yes Punctuation Mandy, I simply must laugh. Just as I must clean my teeth and brush my hair. Laughing oxygenates the tissues, elevates the mood, interferes with dispiriting thoughts. Also, I’m gorgeous when I laugh.

    Perhaps you should ask your doctor about it. Must be free on the NHS, yes?

  • ‘Mandy

    “I must laugh several times a day, on average. If by day’s end I haven’t had a few good cups of tea and a few good laughs, something is either seriously wrong…”

    “I must” Really? Weird.

  • Old Coffee and Apples Flashy

    Christ, she sounds like my sister! Poor Dimitri is going to have his arse handed to him on a plate at school when it should be his daft mum being chased by people with sticks. I worry for poor saps like Dimitri – he’ll either grow up to be a fanny like his mother or kill her in her sleep.

  • dave, surrey

    Can you make a note to look Matilda up 5 years from know. I’d love to see here wrestling with the ethical dilema of buying Dimitri (now 11), the latest violent shoot ’em up for his eithically sourced xbox..

  • N J Mayes

    Very funny, but at least she recognises “I don’t think it would be healthy for him to be very different from his peers.” Far too many hippy parents at my school condemned their sandal-clad children to 13 years of bullying by not sharing that insight.

  • Jack Dawson

    It was enough to put me off the Fairtrade coffee and organic rare-breed apples that I was breakfasting upon.

  • Eddie

    Of course, it’s ALL about social class and the jockeying and positioning to be seen as being aspirational middle class – quite unlike the chavs or those with neither the time nor money to be ‘ethical’.

    Just like Solar panels – no use at all in our unsunny country, just a class statement, pure and simple.

    I bet this smug self-righteous greenie mum is a big consumer – and buys far more consumerist junk than most people. She’s just like a postmodern version of Hyacinth Bucket!

    Ethics? More like a total Kent!

  • Lungfish

    Surely she is the inspiration behind Toni Collette’s character in ‘About a Boy’.
    She should chill out and take Dimitri for a day out to Santa Pod next Christmas.

  • Bill

    “Being ethical informs my worldview”

    Yes dear…

    “We are the folk song army,
    And every one of us cares,
    We all hate poverty, war and injustice,
    Unlike the rest of you squares”

  • R Lloyd

    It’s not so bad, she DID get him a DS. She talks the talk of an utter wacko but when it comes down to it acts like a human being.

    (I guess shes going to have to worry about keeping that job at the Ecologists now thats come out)

  • meanwhile monty

    Oh dear, she is real. Matilda Lee really is a writer/editor at the Ecologist. I was laughing. Now I’m troubled. Poor little Dimitrievich.

  • Peter Crawford

    Viz isn’t spiteful Rod. The spite comes from mad hags like Matilda Lee. The “Spiteful” cartoon you are presumably referring to is “The Modern Parents” by the talented Edinburhegian (is that right?) Edinburghesbian or Edinburghite (yes that must be it) John Fardell. His stuff is apposite and very funny not spiteful.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    What on oyth is an ethical christmas tree? Is it one one steals oneself or one sold by a bloke who stole it perhaps?

  • Amanda

    MikeTV: Good lord, did you really? I must laugh several times a day, on average. If by day’s end I haven’t had a few good cups of tea and a few good laughs, something is either seriously wrong or my schedule has been disrupted.

    My h. took the dog out walking the other day and I went onto a blog. When they came back, he said to the dog, ‘Oh — Mummy’s giggling. We know what she’s doing!’

  • Amanda

    The self-congratulation of Earth Mother Matilda (whose son of course had to be Dimitri — couldn’t be John or Jack or Will or Keith or Rod, not exotic enough) is truly stupefying. I’ve heard of hothouse flowers but she is a Wardian case tree of paradise.

    If I wrote a character like her in my book, no one would believe it. Too OTT.

    Strength to you, young Dimitri. You’re going to need it.

    As for Matilda, I don’t know whether she’ll be having any more children, but since names are important I’d like to suggest Ashoke (rhymes with ‘a bloke’) for a male child. It’s Indian and it’s got ‘Ash’ in it — subtle-like. Can’t get cooler and more ethical than that.

  • DougS

    It’s uncanny.

    Dimitri’s mother’s outlook and intended actions are the exact opposite of mine!

  • Peter Treadwell

    Only one of the mothers even mentions the child’s father. Perhaps the Guardian has banned them?

  • Jeremy

    Fergus Pickering:

    “Actually you might like cooking. Someone’s got to do those fry-ups with black pudding.”

    Yes, Dimitri. The cooking class might actually prove to be useful. Assuming they show you how to cook proper food, as opposed to the grains and beans variety…

  • MikeTV

    Re: Austin Barry’s comment
    January 7th, 2012 11:41pm

    Totally wonderful, Austin. I had an involuntary laugh-out-loud moment for the first time this year. Excellent!

  • Eddie

    Someone please tell ‘Matilda Lee’ (or maybe Matilda-Lee), who no doubt called her son after that guy in Dr Strangelove, that the single biggest threat to the planet and the future of humanity, is over-population – which, of course, she together with most others is happily and selfishly adding to, confident of the public approval and funding that will follow.

    Non-breeders are the greenest people of all and cause muich less damage to the world that anyone who has added more children to the overcrowded world – yet are expected to pay taxes so those want to have kids – as many as they like – get benefits and assistance from their cash.

    Is that ethical, Matty-Lee?

    Kids these days are really spoilt little brats though in our self-esteem cuddling kidocracy – so parents have to bear the cross they themselves have made. Tell Dimitri NO! to the car; yes to the computer game; and start chucking satsumas at him if he won;t shut up and be grateful!

  • John Lea

    ‘a stocking full of arts and crafts and an adopted snow leopard from WWF’. Bet his face lit up on Christmas morning. I imagine next year poor little Dimitri will get a weekend trip to Palestine (to see those nasty Israeli settlements) and a year’s subscription to Socialist Worker. What a daft boot!

  • Adam Nixon

    “Being ethical informs my whole worldview” Good on youm girl! All the rest of us spend our lives being wicked just for the sheer joy of it.

  • Sir Graphus

    It’s not so much the eco stuff that bothers me, it’s the feminisation.

  • Richard of like-minded community

    “an adopted snow leopard from WWF,”
    – yep, far, far beyond the realm of parody.
    Does anyone in the real world still not know that the WWF is yet another fake “charity”?

  • Anne Allan

    Surely this is an A Grade, super charged piss take?
    By the time Dimitri hits ten he’ll be on crack cocaine – ethically produced in a sustainable way, of course – so he can blot out this green gargoyle with unshaved armpits. Failing that, he might do something creative with the satsuma.

  • Ian Wright

    I’d rather Matilda than the woman who bought her sprog a 4500 quid rocking horse!

  • Jeremy

    The contradiction between the aspirations of the parent and those of the child is very nearly perfect. It is ‘The Modern Parents’….with Fergus playing the role of the sane uncle.

  • Austin Barry

    When Dmitri was two we took him to a wind farm outside of Hay-on-Wye to have him ethically circumcised and his flying foreskin fed to the local hawks. We doused his foreshortened todger with some druidical potions and applied Wicca bandaids to his throbbing Toynbee. (cont.p. 94)

  • Old Slaughter

    Please somebody tell me what Erica refers to. Is Rod in the shit again?

    Yell, if you need bail money Rod. I’m for you.

  • Oedipus Rex

    Is it ‘International Day of the Hypocrite’ today Rod?

    What with the Diane thread and now this wonderful specimen.

    Note the denouement where she explains why she’s giving in to little Dimitri; “for now, I don’t think it would be healthy for him to be very different from his peers.”

    All her ethical self-righteousness up in smoke so as to pander to his wishes.

  • rod liddle

    You’re a dumb mutt, Erica. The maximum is a fine.

  • Erica Blair

    Rod, did you get a ‘Get out of jail free card’? You’ll need one.

  • fergus pickering

    Love it, Rod. What do we need novels for when we’ve got real life. Go, go Dimitri. And hassle her about that car. She’s completely whacko. But I’m sure you know that. Actually you might like cooking. Someone’s got to do those fry-ups with black pudding.

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