altxmas

It’s Clichéd To Be Cynical At Christmas.

Despite my otherwise miserable demeanour, I actually like Christmas… honestly! Inside, I’m smiling! Christmas can be great fun ’specially with small kids, Santa and all that. We went up to Kielder to visit him, last weekend and had a brilliant time, snow and everything.

The problem I’ve got with Christmas, (apart from religion of course) is the repetition. We bought the Radio Times last week, and for all that’s in it, we should have just packed last year’s copy away with the decorations, (or maybe even the year before that!)… it’s the same round of Wallace and Gromit, Miracle on 34th Street, Muppets, Two Ronnies, Fools and Horses and Morecombe and Wise. I know there’s a bleak, mid-winter recession going on, but surely it doesn’t mean we have to watch twenty year old telly for a fortnight? It’s not just the telly either… don’t you feel sometimes you’re on a giant hamster wheel? Reliving some sort of Christmas Ground Hog day? When I was younger I was genuinely excited opening a present, now there’s always a slight sickening dread, will my “pleased Christmas face” be believable enough? Each year I’m sure it gets less convincing! My Dad bought me 2 pairs of shoes one year… my Christmas face wasn’t convincing then. He slipped the receipt into my hand in the kitchen, so I could take them back to Matalan… Jesus! Two pairs of leather-look, slip-off, shoes for thirty quid! Urgh!!! Worst bit was his face! I felt like a right shit! I actually thought I was easy to buy for… apparently not! The “three” inflatable comedy sumo-suits I got last year are testament to that!

So we prepare to go through the motions once more, we’ve done our cards, i.e. Maxed them to the hilt, filled the freezer with seasonal weirdness and blocked out the daylight till mid-January with a small forest. Now, I’m not trying to be a miserable bastard just for the sake of it. I try and smile (unconvincingly) through it, as I’m drip fed a bottle of Baileys a day and sit through Love Actually (again!)… but there is an assault on the senses that I feel needs addressing… Christmas songs.  Seeping into your head from dusk till dawn, from supermarkets, radios, adverts and pubs. The tinkling, jingling backdrop to the seasonal spendathon!

I read that prisoners in Guantanamo Bay endured twenty four hour loops  of Barney the purple dinosaur’s, “I love you, You love me,” song,  till the hapless souls pleaded to have their nads, electrocuted instead … all I’m saying is, over exposure to Noddy Holder, could have that same effect!

So I had a bit of a spouch about, to see what the alternatives were… and there’s loads really. So I tried to whittle it down to ten and compile an alternative Christmas list. There were a couple that didn’t quite make it onto the list. Death Cab for Cutie’s brilliant version of Baby Please Come Home, and a quite remarkable version of Hark The Herald Angels Sing , by The Fall, which I only dropped because they were technically covers.

So here goes.

At Ten.  Tough choice the Ten slot. It was so very, very nearly something by Sufjan Stevans for the sheer persistence of his 5 EP, 42 song, Christmas Box Set, Songs For Christmas… I’d narrowed it down to Get Behind Me, Santa, too, but in the end I’ve given number Ten to Tom Waits and Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis, because it’s just pure Tom, painting his wonderful gritty character-scapes, and nobody does that better.

Number Nine Pop Pickers! It’s Cliched To Be Cynical At Christmas by, Half Man Half Biscuit. Yes it is, and I am.

Number Eight. Christmas Is Going To The Dogs, by Eels. Packed with marrowbone jelly. Remember a dog isn’t just for Christmas!

Number Seven. Merry Christmas (I don’t want to fight tonight.) by The Ramones Listening to it now though… I’ve just noticed the Barney lyric similarities. Damn you, you purple sod!!!!

Number Six. Christmas Was Better In The 80sThe Futureheads. A wonderful Christmas song, and … quite possibly true, though that thing about the snow being deeper. Nah. Not judging by the last few weeks!

Number Five. I drop in the fantastically heartfelt, Christmas Is Cancelled by Sheffield’s, The Long Blondes. Oliver’s Army gets a Christmas makeover.

Numero Quatro, goes to Glasgows own, Mother and the Addicts, and Oh God It’s Christmas. Now defunct of course, they left us this little gem on the wonderful Chemikal Underground label. Altogether now…”Baby Jesus- Baby Jesus, Santa Claus- Santa Claus!”

Number Three. The Damned of course!… It’s not Christmas without the Captain and nothing gives you that warm fuzzy Christmas feeling like… er… There Ain’t No Sanity Clause. Tenuous I know. Meh!

Number Two slot goes to The Kinks and Father Christmas, a tale of depravity as fresh and as relevant today as it was when it was released in 1977. The oh too familiar story of the mugging of a department store Santa.

Give my daddy a job ’cause he needs one, he’s got lots of mouths to feed. But if you’ve got one, I’ll have a machine gun, so I can scare all the kids down the street.

Covered by everybody and their (Gigolo) Aunts, Green Day, Warrant, Bowling For Soup and OK Go. But the original is still the best. Father Christmas, give us some money!

Top of my Christmas tree is conveniently a fairy, actually Fairytale of New York, by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. I know! I know! It gets more airplay than Slade, but piss off. It’s my list and my rules! … but it’s got the line “You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot, happy Christmas your arse I pray God it’s our last!”… and that takes some beating in my book!

Happy Christmas!



By Dave on December 18, 2010


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  1. “All I want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague away kit” by Half Man, Half biscuit. Not tecnically a Christmas song but who cares? Last week of term we were doing some Advent Reflections (I know, I know, Religion at Christmas whatever next!!!!!!) but I used the whole of the LOW “Christmas” album. Brilliant, maudlin renditions of classics like Silent Night and a few originals. Mormons at Christmas? this religion thing seems an on-going theme. My favourite on the Lp and probably my all time favourite is an original of theirs “Long way round the Sea”. It re-tells the story of Mary & Joseph escaping from Herod and the trek by those 3 Kings. You know the 3 who turned up at the birth of Santa!!

    Comment by peter — December 21, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

  2. I love those Christmas fairy tales. The Jesus one is great!!! But my favourite, apart from Gremlins (obviously) is when Charlie Brown buys the last scraggy, skinny, little stick tree in a pot. Heart warming stuff!… and a lesson to us all I think!!

    I actually bought a Dukla Prague away kit for my brother one christmas too. The irony was completely wasted! This year I just emailed him some Amazon gift vouchers!

    Comment by Dave — December 22, 2010 @ 1:01 am

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