South Western Railway Strike Set to Affect Christmas Travel

Do you have travel plans to see your friends and family the Saturday before Christmas? Well, get ready for a bit of a hassle.

South Western Railway has warned passengers of disruptions on 22 December across South London and North Surrey, including areas like Kingston, Weybridge, Esher and Thames Ditton, due to a union leaders strike against driver only trains, organised by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT).

This will be a 24 hour action, and union members were instructed not to book shifts on this specific day until 11:59pm.

According to British Transport Police data, there have been more than double the amount of alcohol-caused violent offences at Britain’s railway stations over the winter holiday period in the past two years.

This follows the case of a policeman, who was stabbed outside a railway station in East London on 23 November.

South Western Railway said it would do everything possible to provide the best service for passengers during the strike, and claims the industrial action is “totally unnecessary”.

Will you be travelling with South Western Railway on 22 December? If so, what do you think about this situation? Leave a comment down below to let us know what you think!

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The 5 Most Problematic Christmas Songs

I love the holidays. Honestly, probably more than the average person—the food, the family, the festivities; it’s all so dreamy and magical.

I’m also a huge fan of Christmas music. Year after year, I listen to the same Christmas soundtrack because it really gets me in the Christmas spirit.

However, this year, I’ve really started to listen to the lyrics of these songs and have realised something:

Some Christmas music is super problematic.

I’ve curated a list of the 5 most problematic Christmas songs and the reasons they make the holidays a little bit less jolly. I will be rating the problematic nature of these songs on a scale of 1-5 Santa heads.

1. Santa Buddy: Michael Bublé, 2011

Alright, Michael. We get it: no homo. Michael Bublé’s male-centric rewrite of the classic Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby” changes the words in such a way that we couldn’t possibly think he was looking at Santa in an erotic way.

He does so by making Santa his buddy, his pally, his poppy (?) instead of his baby, by asking for a ‘65 convertible in a very masculine STEEL blue and not the original light blue, by requesting “Canucks tix” (aka, hockey tickets) because he is A Man Who Likes Sports and Don’t You Forget It. However, he still asks for Santa to come and “trim [his] Christmas tree”. Hmm….

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2. Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Dean Martin, 1953

If you were to name one particularly controversial Christmas song, it would be this one. It’s fun, catchy, and it’s been around for decades, but it’s highly problematic. It tells the story of a woman who has spent an evening with a man, but he begs her to stay as she attempts to convince him that she needs to leave.

But what is this song really about? While the lyrics play it off as a cutesy and flirty hard-to-get situation, what the song is really doing is perpetuating rape culture. With lyrics like “I simply must go,” “The answer is no,” and “Say, what’s in this drink?”, this song is actually quite problematic in its dismissive qualities of a woman attempting to remove herself from an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation.

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3. Do They Know It’s Christmas? 1984; 2014

It’d be easy to blame this song on simply being a symptom of the time it was releasedin 1984, speaking about starving Africans was actually quite forward thinking and woke.

But in 2014? A resung version starring big names like One Direction, Ellie Goulding, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, and so many more? In 2014, should we still be perpetuating the idea that everyone in “Africa” (where, specifically. Africa is large and is made up of over 50 countries) is starving? The original hasn’t aged well, and the 2014 version really just shouldn’t exist.

Thank you for trying to raise awareness, Band Aid. Thank you for raising money for Ebola prevention. But lyrics like “Where nothing ever grows, no rain nor rivers flow” isn’t necessarily accurate depiction of the entire continent of Africa.

“Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?” Yes, probably.

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4. Never Do a Tango with an Eskimo: 1955

According to this 1955 Christmas song by Alma Cogan, one must never dance with an Eskimo for several reasons, the main ones being that “once those Eskimoses start to wiggle with their toeses, you can bet your life you’re gonna get a chill,” and also that “once an Eskimosee starts to cuddle up so cozy, you’ll find your passion cooling, yes sirree.”

Good to know. But don’t worry, she does give us plenty of other races that we can dance with, such as “a Latin”, “a gaucho” or “an Apache.”

I have several questions. Why is Cogan picking on Eskimos? Why is this considered a Christmas song? Why does this song exist at all? Can we stop perpetuating negative stereotypes about entire demographics, please?

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5. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus: Michael Jackson version; 1970

Nothing says Christmas like infidelity! According to the song, a young Michael Jackson sneaks downstairs only to find his mother kissing Santa Claus, but no one believes that Jackson actually saw this happen.

While some people believe the song is about the mother cheating on her husband with Santa, others see it a bit more innocently; perhaps Santa IS dad, and mommy is simply kissing her Santa-suited husband. Either way, it’s caused some controversy among Christmas listeners. What do YOU think the song is about?

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Did we miss your least-favourite Christmas song? Let us know in the comments!

 

How to Successfully Celebrate Chrismukkah

Are you a big fan of The O.C.? Do you come from a half Jewish, half Christian background? Or are you just a fan of unusual holidays?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, this guide to celebrating Chrismukkah (Christmas + Hanukkah) is perfect for you.

Chrismukkah was introduced to the world in December 2003 by popular TV series The O.C., in which Seth Cohen created the holiday to celebrate his father’s Jewish faith and his mother’s Christian faith. Or because he was spoiled and wanted more presents, feel free to interpret it as you wish to.

It’s not a real holiday, but it somehow became quite big in America. It’s time to bring it to Kingston.

So here’s how it works: eight days of presents, followed by one day of many presents. Unfortunately, this year’s Hanukkah dates don’t coincide with Christmas, as it’s actually already happening, so you’re gonna have to improvise. It’s not a real holiday after all, no harm done.

Do you love holiday decorations? It’s time to go wild! You get to decorate your house with a Menorah, as well as Christmas lights, stockings, bells and whatnot. The more decorations, the stronger the Chrismukkah feeling.

Don’t forget to make yourself (and all your guests) a yamaclaus… Yes, it’s a thing. If you’re confused, just imagine what a Jewish Santa Claus would wear on his head. Still confused? There is a genuine website that sells them, so you can see what they look like. It also lets you create a paper one if you’re lazy or running out of time!

Remember to get as many people as possible involved. Sure, baby Seth only had his family to celebrate with, but more people joined the Chrismukkah celebrations over time. And more people just means more food and more presents, so you better text all your group chats right now.

On Christmas Day (the day of many presents) you eat Chinese food at home and watch a movie on TV.

If you want the full Seth Cohen experience you can also invite both your girlfriends, listen to Death Cab For Cutie, or play some video games. Real fans can also get Captain Oats involved.

Alternatively, you can just watch The O.C. and call it a day.

The Chrismukkah episodes for each seasons are: ‘The Best Chrismukkah Ever’ (season 1, episode 13), ‘The Chrismukkah That Almost Wasn’t’ (season 2, episode 6), ‘The Chrismukkah Bar-Mitzvahkkah’ (season 3, episode 10) and ‘The Chrismukk-huh?’ (season 4, episode 7). Enjoy!

How to Combat Holiday Homesickness

Ah, the holiday season. A wonderful time to indulge in mulled wine, eat a bit too many sweets and pies, and spend time with family.

But what do you do if you’re away from your family for the holidays?

Not all of us have the money to travel home for the winter holiday break—international students like me know this feeling all too well—or even have a good family to go home to. So what do you do when the holiday homesickness strikes?

  1. Reach out to friends and loved ones

Your family doesn’t have an embargo on holiday celebrations. London is a vibrant city, full of diverse people celebrating all the winter holidays. Talk to  your friends, co-workers or anyone else that you enjoy spending time with and ask them to attend a holiday celebration happening in the city with you.

Saving money this holiday? Even just inviting them over for some homemade mulled wine (this recipe looks pretty simple) and board games can help beat away the blues.

  1. Take a solo trip

It seems counter-productive, but taking a trip on your own can be helpful to battle homesickness. Since you can’t be home, travel to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go! You’ll create new memories and will be so focused on travelling, you won’t have time to mope. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to meet others in similar situations—and there’s never a wrong time to make new friends.

  1. Make a new holiday tradition

Sure, nothing can beat those Christmas morning cinnamon pecan rolls that only your mom can make—wait, is that just me?—but you have the freedom make your own traditions. Check out one of the Christmas markets around London and enjoy some hot chocolate with friends, or have a Christmas Eve sleepover.

Maybe your parents make the perfect latkes, but making them with friends can become a fun new tradition for Hanukkah. It won’t be what you’ve always had, but you’ll make heartwarming memories that can bloom into new—maybe even better—traditions.

  1. Remember that you’re not alone

It can be disheartening to see Instagram stories full of families laughing and Christmas presents being opened, but remember that you’re far from being the only person in your situation. There are lots of reasons why people can’t go home for the holidays, and there’s nothing shameful about it. Take this time to relax, indulge in some tasty food, and be renewed for 2019.

Are you staying in Kingston for the holiday break? Share your plans in the comments!

The Christmas Spirit Comes to Southbank

If you’re looking to really get your Christmas spirit on this holiday season, then make your way to the Underbelly’s Christmas Market in Southbank, London.

The Underbelly is known for throwing exciting and fun events that bring in thousands of people each year, such as their Summer Holiday festival that takes place in the same Southbank venue over the summer.

Those of you who are properly Christmas obsessed will truly love everything this market has to offer: mulled wine, handmade items, delicious warm food, and even a Christmas themed ferris wheel. The Underbelly’s Christmas Market is one of the funnest–and certainly one of the cosiest– within London.

The market runs until 6 January, so there’s still plenty of time to make your way over and indulge in the Christmas spirit.

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Christmas in Kingston: Fun Events on a Budget

It’s almost that special time of the year! Christmas season is for magic, celebrations, gifts and festive events. Here’s a list of fun and affordable activities around Kingston University to get you in the Christmas spirit without breaking the bank.

  1. Christmas Lights Switch On and Christmas Market

Kingston’s Christmas Lights Switch On event is coming up this Thursday (15 November). The lights will be turning on at 6pm in Clarence Street, but you can enjoy live music and entertainment all around town throughout the day. The Christmas market will also open on the same day, so make sure to check that out–and don’t forget to visit Frangos to get a free portion of churros with any platter purchased.

  1. Frozen sing-along at Rose Theatre

Are you a Disney fan? Head to Rose Theatre on 17 December to watch Frozen in their main auditorium and sing along to all the songs! The event is only £8 and it’s probably aimed at kids, but aren’t students basically kids anyway?

The price of your ticket will help raise funds to support the Rose Theatre’s programme of drama, cultural and learning opportunities. This means you’ll get to sing along to a fun Disney film and do charity at the same time. It’s a win-win situation.

  1. University Christmas Carol Service

Looking for a more traditional event? A free Christian service will be happening at St. John the Evangelist Church on 5 December from 5:30pm. The service will include Bible readings, as well as music and free refreshments at the end of it, and will be open to everyone – Christian or not. This is actually a Kingston Uni event too, so you may spot some familiar faces there.

  1. Christmas at Kew

Although this event isn’t in Kingston, it’s easily accessible to students and definitely worth the short journey. Christmas at Kew will be happening at Kew Gardens from Thursday, 22 November to Saturday, 5 January 2019, and it’s bound to be a truly magical experience. For £16.50 (off-peak price) you can enjoy Christmas lights, 300 origami boats on a lake, and so much more!

Will you be attending any of these events, or are you going to any other fun Christmas events happening around Kingston? Let us know in the comments and share the festive fun!