Bash in the skull of a bearded pirate

THERE are Easter eggs in the shops.

I saw them last weekend – about three weeks after Christmas. Banked up like battery hens.

I guess we should stop calling them Easter eggs, Easter being nearly three months away. They’re just-after-Christmas eggs; or merely chocolate eggs, for the eating of. Another sweet and sugary comestible to rot the kids’ teeth and build cellulite on the thighs.

And another nail in the coffin (or is it the cross?) of Christianity.

I enjoyed Easter, as a kid. I wasn’t terribly conscious of its religious implications, but I remember waking up on Easter Sunday to find a pile of assorted Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies beside my bed.

At breakfast everyone sat down to boiled eggs carefully and creatively decorated by Mum, with little hats (various), comic faces (assorted), beards and moustaches.

They were cold as a witch’s kiss, of course, because you can’t do all that stuff and then drop them in a saucepan of boiling water. You can only paint them — all of them — after.

Cold or not, I always asked for a male egg (Mum painted some of each). I could bash in the skull of a bearded pirate with my little spoon and eat his yolky brains, but not the skull of a rosy-cheeked milkmaid with pigtails.

After breakfast we kids would engage in a chocolate orgy that outstripped Christmas indulgence and that ended with at least one of us regurgitating the lot, including a hard-boiled pirate or a milkmaid, in a corner of the lounge room.

I say all of us, but my younger sister was pious as a priest in a pulpit about her eggs. She used to pretend she was keeping pace with the rest of us, but she still had Easter eggs left at Halloween, which seemed like a good reason (and a good time), if not to kill her, then at least to torture her a lot.

I’m sure somewhere in there someone must have mentioned crucifixion and resurrection and dying for our sins (although, if gluttony is one of them, then He wasted His time in our house).

Now, however, Easter is drowning in an ocean of celebrations that stretch from December (Christmas) to November (Melbourne Cup).

Come mid-January they whip the antlers off the shop-display reindeers and turn them into Easter bunnies; and come mid-October they take scissors to the ears, bung a saddle on their backs and — presto! — Phar Lap with buck teeth.

We’re doing to our lives what we did to our milk. Remember the days when cream gathered at the top of the milk bottle like sunrise on spring days? You could pour it on to your cornflakes to make them special, or save it for strawberries later.

Now they smash it to bits in an homogenisation process that hides it from view, taste, touch and smell (they assure us it’s still there though).

Well, that’s what’s happening to Easter – homogenised into an endless stream of foil‑wrapped, sub-standard chocolate eggs from the year’s beginning to its end.

Never mind, we haven’t entirely lost our religious symbols.

There’s still the Melbourne Cup.