On The Moon.

17/11/2015 09:54 GMT | Updated 16/11/2016 10:12 GMT

It's inevitable. It's become an annual event, arriving as Remembrance ends: the Christmas adverts are suddenly dominant on TV schedules. The debate rages on Twitter and elsewhere: are you camp #Mog or camp #ManOnTheMoon: Sainsbury's or John Lewis?

I'm just bemused. I can't make up my mind about either advert, despite having smiled on catching sight of both. John Lewis and the Man On The Moon, the obligatory feel-good factor generated by the determination of one little girl to make sure that the poor, lonely man on the moon isn't forgotten at Christmas. Sainsbury's and Mog, the hapless cat who accidentally burns down the kitchen and equally accidentally calls the Fire Brigade, after which all the neighbours rally round and salvage a Christmas reduced quite literally to ashes. So far, the awww factor is complete.

But the more I think about it, the more both adverts give me chills: not chills of the good kind, and not because a mild Autumn has suddenly grown chilly. The more I think about the Man On The Moon, the more I wonder. His telescope arrives miraculously by balloon, but are we meant to believe that Ocado delivers at that altitude? He doesn't seem to starve. And how does he breathe, without earth's atmosphere? And what of zero gravity? Is the Moon just a metaphor? The theories grow like the holiday gathering in the little girl's perfectly decorated and furnished house: is the lonely old man a forgotten, dementia-suffering Grandad, banished to residential care so far away that it quite literally might as well be on another planet? Have the delightful family felt forced to send him far, far away through the 'luna-tic' behaviour now understood as dementia? Has his little granddaughter discovered him and realized that she misses him... only to present him with a telescope so that he can watch the family enjoying themselves, from afar, remembering happy times and what it was to be part of things again? It's chilling, when you think of it like that. Don't get me wrong: the advert is beautifully made and I am delighted that funds are going to Age UK, The Alzheimer's Society and other worthy causes, whether from revenue generated by the advert or from products sold associated with it. But still. There's just something... something which breaks my heart a bit about that ad. 'Show someone they're loved this Christmas'. Yes. Do. By all means: do. But there are so many other days to think of, when all of us need a bit of love...

And then there's Mog. I loved the Mog books as a child, though I remember Mog more as forgetful than as hapless. I find myself feeling uncomfortable almost to the point of feeling slightly ill when Mog destroys the kitchen as the family sleeps upstairs. I'm going to come out and say it: I'm not that keen on cats. The cats which visit our garden are mostly there to harvest their supper among the passing birds, or to make unsavoury deposits in the flower beds. I've met cats that I've liked: cats of friends, mostly, who have taken on the distinguished personalities of their owners... or Sebastian, the handsome companion of a university tutor who used to attend Shakespeare tutorials and signal his approval with a mew. But Mog... seriously. If a cat did that to my kitchen she would, rapidly, find herself living on the moon, or in a home for superannuated arsonist felines. But #becauseit'sChristmas - to borrow the Asda advert hashtag - of course the family accept Mog, the neighbours rally round, the house is miraculously restored, and a glut of food and gifts (all available at your local Sainsbury's!) is shared. Mog is presented with her favourite treat - an egg - and all ends happily: because 'Christmas is for sharing'. There is the wonderful moment when Mog leaps through the cat flap, trailing a set of coloured fairylights, executes a perfect forward roll and lands in front of the fire engine she's summoned: that always makes me smile. But otherwise, the advert makes me feel oddly paranoid about the enemy within: I worry that, in the dead of night, the neighbours' cat will break into my house and burn it down... or maybe even one of those childhood cuddly toys...

Oh: I know. I know. It's all a bit of feelgood Christmas fun. It's harmless and I shouldn't be feeling paranoid. But sometimes when you're stressed and exhausted and feeling a bit like an outsider in your own life, everything seems a bit alien. Sometimes it feels as though there's just something about Christmas: something almost aggressive and obligatory about it all. 'So here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody's having fun' and even if you live on the moon or you've just had your kitchen trashed by your cat, the accidental arsonist, you will have fun too. Even if you're so exhausted you don't care. Even if you feel a bit outside it all. And if you don't want to have fun? Then we'll make you look at other people's merriment from afar. We'll send you a nice telescope to help. Look: it's decorated with brightly-coloured balloons...

Ah, Christmas. Holly. Ivy. Tinsel. Fairylights. Guiding stars. Just what comes next in this shopping list of strange disconnectedness? I feel as though I'm watching things from 238,855 miles away...

2015-11-16-1447712588-3764329-whatnext.jpeg