"At my signal, unleash hell".
Except General Maximus Decimus Meridius wasn't intent upon raining steel, fire and death onto the Germanic tribes, was he?
Oh no. Oh very no-no-no. His idea of hell was unleashing a torment of tasteless Christmas decorations on his house. Like this.
With the hell in question all set to be that of his neighbours.
And as far as I'm concerned, my sympathies lie completely and utterly with the bloke who lives in the house on the right of this beautiful Christmas scene.
Poor bastard. Hell's inferno will be the proverbial tea party after you've lived next door to that for the obligatory 12 days - and then some.
Just think, all the Shepherds and Three Wise Men had to guide them to the Manger was a lone star whose pure and simple light they followed.
Pure indeed. Simple and classic.
Can you imagine the scene if, back in the day, there'd been an equivalent of Poundstretcher in Bethlehem?
Joseph, clad in trackie pants and Santa hat would recount to the Shepherds with incredible sincerity how they were his best mates as he knocked back can after can of Special Brew, while Mary's smiling face would be hidden in the unrelenting glare of a thousand lights flashing on and off, on and off, long into night and the wee small hours; their carbon footprint enough to lead to the extinction of an endangered species in the rainforest with each and every deadly blink.
At least it would give our Bono enough to get worked up about, so he'd have little to no time to make any more albums, or inflict them on iPhone owners. Every cloud has a silver lining and all that.
Except of course, this is Christmas. So every cloud will have a luminous, migraine-inducing, red and green and yellow and white and purple and blue lining.
Why do we all hate Christmas so much now?
No, seriously. The fact that there are now tutorials on how to avoid plastic shite speaks volumes. It's a celebration of tat, the worship of bad taste, of all things coarse, crude and cheap.
And plenty for all.
Take fake Christmas trees for example.
Think about it. It's a tree. But it's not a tree. It's an artificially-made abhorrence.
Take the one in that picture. It not only looks nothing like a tree, it's also been adorned with enough godawful light to enable it to be seen from space. Intergalactic eyesore.
You might as well flash a laser into the eyes of the poor bastards aboard the ISS. I pity them, glancing earthwards and seeing millions of gaudily lit pieces of crap littering the warm, cosy homes of our fair planet.
Which genius decided that, for some reason, lighting it up with fibre optics makes it, well, you know, awesome?
"Hey, that's one Dench tree, fam, it's fibre-fucking-optic."
Fibre optic is best left underground delivering high speed internets to anyone and everyone trying to ignore their insufferable families this holiday, not lighting up an artificial tree so brightly that the resultant glare will burn out the retinas of the puppy you bought that same family for Christmas to distract them.
Look at this Christmas tree. Go on, take a long, lingering look at it.
Everything a tree should be. Natural. A slightly imperfect shape. Traditional lighting that glints rather than glares. And proper baubles.
That's tasteful, simple, timeless baubles. The sort of tacky shit that makes its way on to Christmas trees these days baffles the mind. In fact, I happened upon a wholly unnecessary chat on Radio X with everyone's favourite balding audible arsehole Johnny Vaughan recently. Mr. Receding Hairline felt the need to discuss the incredibly important issue of Christmas trees "being airbrushed and looking unnaturally unattainable." Yes, because having a Christmas tree that doesn't look absolutely perfect is going to keep me awake at night.
While we're at it, let's talk about Christmas jumpers.
They make me think of those terribly sad notices you see in some offices proclaiming, "You Don't Have To Be Mad To Work Here. But It Helps!" And think it's just about the funniest thing everyone's ever seen, isn't it? Well, that and a Christmas episode of Are You Being Served.
Think about it. You're shelling out £30, maybe £40 for something that not only looks dreadful but you'll also only wear once before it vanishes into the depths of your wardrobe never to be seen again. It's not even as if you'll drag it out again twelve months later because you'll then be mug enough to buy another one.
You want apparel that looks good in the winter snow and ice. Woollen coat, plain moleskin trousers and a pair of decent wellies.
But that's the point: Christmas should be simple.
Think about all the images that we associate with the festive season. Old fashioned, traditional and timeless, sure. But their beauty and longevity lies in that pureness and simplicity. And taste.
A single spring of holly. A robin. A snow-clad country scene. Even some contemporary images of Christmas still feature the traditional icons of the season.
So why is everyone so set on ruining it?
One of the great delights at Christmas, for example, is the edible orgy that is Christmas dinner.
It's so good I can't work out why we still only have it once a year.
Yet some ponytail wearing idiot in an olive green suit and loafers has decided that hey, we don't need that anymore.
We need fucking Christmas dinner in a tin.
Yep, we need to drop our Christmas dinner out of a tin like we need to put our hands into an industrial blender.
Even the standard of Christmas presents has fallen through the floor.
Let's imagine you're into books.
Best sellers over the Christmas period used to be the classics: worthy tomes that yielded the imagination of the great and good of the literary world.
To have a Dickens, Austen, or Wilde lay under your tree on Christmas morning was the sign of a considered and thoughtful giver as well as many happy hours of reading ahead for the recipient.
Well don't look now, but, should your eyes grow accustomed to the artificial glare under the plastic tree this time around, the books of choice might include the likes of Chantelle Houghton's Living the Dream: My Story, or, please, for the love of all that's good, Kerry Katona's Still Standing.
"At the top of the hardback charts this year is the daughter of someone famous for the sake of being famous who became famous because they married someone who used to be famous in the 1970s." How's that for an elevator pitch?
Enough already. I'm off down the pub.
Or at least I would be, if the pub hadn't gone completely bat shit crazy just because it happens to be Christmas.
When I go to the pub at this time of year, I don't mind if our favourite landlord wants to decorate it a little bit. Like this, for example. That's fine. But no, they can't be doing with simple and understated any more. Perhaps the idea is to drive customers away - with something like this one, for example.
Mind you, I wouldn't mind betting that the landlord there is a good mate of the bloke who lives here. I wouldn't doubt that someone's told him the bastardised Star Of Bethlehem makes it look "proper good."
Let's face it, we've lost Christmas. The anticipation, the simplicity, the beauty and all the magic, that magic that meant, as children, we couldn't sleep at night, the magic that meant that the sight of a mince pie with a single bite taken out of it meant, early on Christmas morning, that Father Christmas had called while you were asleep.
But that wouldn't do now.
Jolly Old St. Nick would have to land in your garden in a gargantuan carbon fibre-cum-titanium space overlord of a ship, firing off presents, lasers and missiles, to an accompanying soundtrack by DC Breaks featuring Dave Gibson, while you're busy ensuring that the whole experience is captured in glorious 4K hyper definition on a plethora of 3D cameras for your little shits to watch on their brand new 72" smart TV the following day.
After EastEnders, that is.
Roll on Easter.Suggest a correction