Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Christmas shopping - no thanks!

One of my favourite Giles cartoons features the family at breakfast. As Grandma descends the stairs, Mother reaches out to turn off the radios on the table:"Off transistors!" she says, "Nothing puts Grandma in her 'let's-hang-everybody' mood quicker than Wonderful Radio 1."

Regular readers will know that, for me, Christmas music has roughly the same effect. I don't mean the classical stuff; I'm very happy with the odd oratorio or a traditional carol, but the nauseating drivel that fills your ears in virtually any enclosed public space at this time of year makes my blood boil.

Prime offenders are, of course, the Americans; lacking a sensible tradition of wassailing*, yule logs or holly and ivy (all, incidentally, good Norse pagan customs), they have invented the cult of Christmas, an amalgam of drippy pseudo-nostalgia and ersatz emotion where sentimentality is viewed as a positive attribute.

Those of us who decline the invitation to rock around the Christmas tree or have ourselves a merry little Christmas are probably no great loss to the retailers pumping out this stuff; I'd like to think we have more sense than to spend unreasonable sums on overpriced tat.

As a timely antidote to the crass jollity and commercialism of the season, I'd like to offer one of my favourite alternatives, Tom Lehrer's Christmas Carol, dedicated to Longrider and his aversion to organised fun:



* Memorably described thus by Bill Bryson:
In Anglo-Saxon times, it was customary for someone offering a drink to say 'Wassail!' and for the recipient to respond 'Drinkhail!' and for the participants to repeat the exercise until comfortably horizontal.

10 comments:

  1. I agree - some of the music at Sainsbury's has been dire with one "singer" who sounded to me like Jimmy Osmond in a vice.

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  2. It's not Christmas until you've heard 'Mistletoe And Wine' by Cliff on entering a shop!

    And I cat to cut 10 Cliff songs last weekend for yesterday's Christmas Charity Quiz Night. And then play them...

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  3. I'll keep an ear out for that one on my next visit, AKH.

    Aaaargh! Julia - kindly keep your earworms to yourself in future! :)

    One thing that amuses me is the M&S advert; if 'When you wish upon a star' becomes an accepted part of the Christmas repertoire in years to come, it will confirm my worst opinion of my fellow-man's intelligence.

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  4. For some reason we volunteered to do the family Christmas meal this year. I can't remember why but I'm sure booze was involved.

    We always have to have the Christmas tat music on through the meal - it's insisted on. Again I have no idea why.

    I have collated a large collection of Christmas music for when we do the meal this year and it includes all the usual tat. I'm even thinking of playing it live on the blog :-)

    Let the good times roll.

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  5. The Christmas I really enjoyed was 1940 in the air raid shelter. When I popped outside for the necessary and came back with an unexploded incendiary bomb it was a real scream.

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  6. Actually, Bucko, to be fair, a relative took me to task last year and pointed out that even crass jollity has its place.

    I hope you have an excellent Christmas dinner - musical tat and all - but forgive me if, for once, I give the Moose Music a miss.

    Demetrius, as unpleasant Christmas surprises go, that takes some beating; you don't say how old you were, but I suspect the Father Christmas story ended up a bit garbled as a result.

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  7. Macheath - Thanks I'm sure it will be good. Theres booze and food :-)
    I'll take your requests for the first Moose music of 2012

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  8. Bucko - I appreciate the offer but it might be tricky; you've had so many of my favourites already!:)

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  9. Regular readers will know that, for me, Christmas music has roughly the same effect. I don't mean the classical stuff; I'm very happy with the odd oratorio or a traditional carol, but the nauseating drivel that fills your ears in virtually any enclosed public space at this time of year makes my blood boil.

    Hear hear!

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  10. "One thing that amuses me is the M&S advert; if 'When you wish upon a star' becomes an accepted part of the Christmas repertoire in years to come, it will confirm my worst opinion of my fellow-man's intelligence."

    Good old John Lewis! They've made your dreams come true!

    All the Christmas classics!

    ;)

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