Somewhere out there is the person responsible for the compilations of Christmas music played in shopping centres throughout the land and I want his head on a plate. He (or she) has collected together some of the most nauseating, mawkish and tasteless Christmas songs possible and unleashed them on a defenceless public already at the mercy of the retail behemoths.
A recent foray in search of socks and pyjamas exposed your correspondent to rather too much of it this week - a particular irritation being Debenhams' endlessly repeated 'Santa Baby' (verb. sap. - all that 'put a sable under the tree' stuff doesn't go down too well in the current economic climate).
Anyone who has spent time shopping recently will be familiar with the subcategories - syrupy renditions of the cuter and fluffier carols, a cod 1950's American earmuffs-and-cosy-log-fires vibe and, of course, the Band Aid single (sorry, St Bob and the blessed Midge, but they probably didn't care whether 'It's Christmas time', on account of a substantial proportion of them not being Christians, as well as not having enough to eat).
If the single were doing its job, customers would be flocking round the corner to the Oxfam shop, where a veritable cornucopia of cards and fair-trade presents awaits the shopper with a social conscience but instead, they just merrily hum along while filling their baskets with overpriced gifty tat.
Since the recession-hit holiday season bears as much resemblance to 'a merry little Christmas' ('next year all our troubles will be out of sight?' Yeah, right!) as the November fog does to a 'winter wonderland', we need something to replace this crass jollity.
Suggestions would be welcome; meanwhile, I'm going shopping to buy myself some earmuffs.
Pope cancels visit to Ireland
10 hours ago