Christmas Music – Day 1 of 24

It’s Cliched to be Cynical (at Christmas) – Half Man Half Biscuit 

Christmas treeAh Christmas! That time of year when the shops force you to buy stuff you don’t need to give to people who aren’t necessarily thankful. That time of year when it gets a bit nippy and the nights get darker. That time of year when, no matter where you go, you are forced to listen to bloody awful music on repeat. Over and over and over and over and over.

Last year I went on a cruise. It was a lovely cruise. I saw lots of the Caribbean. I saw my brother, his wife and my niece. I was nice and warm. Tropical you might say. But there is something weird about going to a hot part of the world when you are from a cooler part of the world. Especially at Christmas. It feels like August. It looks like August. But there’s Christmas trees and Christmas music blaring out wherever you go on the ship. Which makes it feel like you’ve sailed into some weird Twilight Zone.

As you can imagine I was subjected to all of the Christmas songs from the past 40 years or so. For 14 days. All day. If it wasn’t for the company, the scenery and the endless food and drink, I probably would have picked up one of the sun loungers, fashioned a crude weapon and systematically started bumping off the entire ship.

Sadly, the one song that didn’t play was today’s entry. Last year in the Composts I moaned a fair bit about Christmas.  I feel that sometimes it takes someone or something to remind us not to be such a misery guts. This song does that so, if you ever feel ever so cynical about the season, you should listen to this. It’s my second most favourite Christmas song.  I think is quite apt.


Click here to read the intro to this series 

 

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Christmas Music – Intro

Christmas eh? That period of enforced shopping and spending.

There was a time when Christmas meant nipping down to the local church, doing a few carols with a mug of warm mulled wine before giving up and having a sing a long in the local pub round the old Joanna.

These days Christmas is heralded by gaudily dressed shops in November and incessant repetition of God awful Christmas pop from the previous 40 years.

Long term readers will recall that I wrote about Christmas music last year (and even then before that!) during the Bah Humbug series. But Christmas music needs a whole series to itself. For the next 24 days, I will be selecting and discussing a Christmas song from across the decades. Some you will be familiar with, others probably not. So, in the interests of tradition, I give you:

The Existential Compost/Compostual Existentialist Christmas Advent Series 2014

These will be cross posted to Livejournal, the Music Project, Blogspot and to WordPress.

Remember remember the time when Britain nearly became a republic again.

The times were hard. The King, an absolute tyrant. People were hauled from their homes by swat teams of government troops, tried in mockeries of the court and executed. Purely because of their beliefs and ideals.

One group of prominent English men had had enough. The king and his tyranny must go. The last time they had done this ended in regicide. The Kings replacement, a religious nutter who made fun illegal. This time it had to be just right.

Only it went wrong. Their plot was discovered, the plotters executed and tortured in a way that made Guantanamo look like a week in Butlin’s. Their failed act of blowing up the King and his sympathisers forever commemorated in British memory. Guy Fawkes night. Bonfire night or Firework night.

Crucially, the day is remembered for the failed plot and the continued reign of the tyrannical monarchy. The one last attempt to rid the land of an unelected head of state. A celebration of the fact the plot failed. But how would Britain have faired if it hadn’t failed? Would the empire ever have risen? Would the world have been a different place? Of course it would.

We will never know of course.

Sunny Days

As the sun gets stronger through the year and the days get warmer and brighter, our thoughts turn to outdoor pursuits. Walking, picnicing, nose picking, porn foraging and, most popular of all, barbecues.

Now, I’ve got a thing about barbecues. I used to love ’em. Nuked meat Russian roulette. You either get a charcoal cinder or a black and crusty raw and bloody surprise. Love em.

However these days I realise the horror of having barbecues. The hours of slaving over red hot coals ensuring your guests have ample mountains of food (most of which you’ll either under or over accommodate for) knocking back beer after beer in an attempt to keep up with the guests who are getting merrier by the minute because they are sat down in comfort while you serve their every whim.

Then you get to sit down. You get the cold soggy left over bits that nobody wanted. The suspicious looking burger. The dodgy looking kebab. The insidious looking chicken wings or quarters that will no doubt still be raw in the middle even after being on the heat for what seems like 30 years. The limp lettuce. The flaccid overcooked sausages. All the good, tasty looking bits have gone. Your feet ache. You’re not as pissed as everyone else there. It’s clouding over. People are starting to make “Lets go home now” motions.

Yeah. Thats fun.

Isn’t it?

No. The thing I like about barbecues is going. Sitting there while my host slaves over hot coals. Getting merrier and merrier because I’m sat down chatting old toot with the other guests. Getting plied with food, nibbles and drink by my host and his/her partner. Relaxing. Enjoying the time. Getting the nice juicy steak. The right looking sausages, the burgers that don’t look too over or under done. The chicken pieces that aren’t still squarking. Getting them all for myself. Leaving the other less attractive bits to the chef or what other poor sod turns up just before I get to go home.

Then once my gizzard is full and I am fully sated with beer and meat. I can then yawn. Make some shit excuse about having an early morning, and go home. Leaving the host to clear up.

Yeah. I like barbecues.

Holidays

While going through and updating old posts, I came across this one. I thought it apt seeing as I am off on my jollies soon.

Please enjoy this entry from 2008

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So there I am lapping up Council-by-Sea thinking to myself just how did the British seaside get into such an appalling state of grotesqueness. When it struck me. In the 70’s/80’s when package holidays to Magaluf and Torremolinos cost about ten shillings, those that previously lapped it up in the likes of Butlins and Pontins legged it to these sunnier climes.

Thus the rot started. Less people spending money at the seaside means less money for the attractions. Old people retire to these once bustling resorts, too old and poor to maintain the once grand 4 storey Victorian and Edwardian terraces, the area looks shabby. Because the place looks shabby nobody wants to go and eventually you end up with the likes of Llandudno or Rhos-On-Sea or New Brighton. A sad state of affairs.

So like I said, I’m musing on this and it struck me like a bag of wasps. How come, during this lull, nobody ever thought of rebranding the seaside? I mean like strolling down the promenade being assaulted with the sickly stench of fish and chips, doughnuts and last nights vomit is not everybody’s cup of tea really now is it? I mean yeah I wax lyrical about the joy one can experience by rolling up ones trousers to the knees, donning a knotted hankerchief on ones head while sitting in a red and white striped deckchair on Blackpool seafront in the piss cold rain. I know poncing about on the dodgems makes some people think they’re James Dean or some other teen icon. But really, those days have passed. What is needed is a careful bit of rebranding. Instead of Council-on-Sea, maybe there should be Gated-Community-Le-Mer. Instead of the Sun readers flocking in their hordes to resorts like Skegness and Scarborough, try and attract those nice Guardian readers instead. Something which should have been done during the lull in trade in the 80’s. The reinvention of the British Seaside.

Of course the wife said I was being daft because the concept of rebranding is only a recent thing. I disagreed though, saying that the reason resorts didn’t rebrand was purely because of those in control of the local council. Nobody, especially a British person, likes change. As local councils are full of old fuddyduddies the likelihood of change in such circumstances is virtually nil. Indeed some councils went through the good old “whoops what a shame the lido caught fire so now we have to pull it down and build luxury apartments on it” strategy but this too is self defeating, like who would want to live in a seaside town where there isn’t anything to do? Not me!

So in my new rebranded seaside gone are the old and in with the new.

The pier – totally refurbished, instead of tack and rock shops – designer boutiques

Tatty victorian terraces and guest houses – replaced by luxurious, totally serviced apartments with self contained gyms, spas and creches

Icecream – Icecream, as you know is fattening and not everybody can eat it. Instead, healthy frozen fruit juices, sorbets and fruit on a stick.

Amusement arcades – These tend to attract the wrong sort of people so they’ll be bulldozed. Of course the penny cascade things can stay as they’re harmless enough but the noisy modern arcade games can go. Instead of arcades, however, a change to small, members only casinos.

Fish and Chips – Everybody knows, fish and chips are really bad for you. They make you fat and can cause heart disease. Instead stylish culinary delights in the form of swanky but affordable seafood restuarants. A whole new dining experience. Similar to those you might see in resorts on the continent. Where passers-by have to wrestle with the waiters attempting to lure them in with promises of a good meal.

Kiss-Me-Quick hats – In this day and age of paedophiles, rapists and shifty men with greasy hair and sweat stained tshirts such things should not be encouraged. Instead Kiss me and you’ll receive an assault charge hats. Designed, of course, by Gucci or maybe even Gok Wan.

Donkey rides – Riding donkeys, as every decent person knows, is exploitative and cruel so such a recreation would not be available in Gated-Community-le-Mer. Besides which it is much healthier to walk places.

Y List Celebrities from yesteryear in end of pier shows – Sadly it comes to every performer that they will spend their remaining working life on an end of pier show before disappearing into obscurity. Ant and Dec are heading that way as is Simon Cowell. So why prolong their agony (and indeed the risk of being rediscovered) and banish such crap. Besides, the type of show that goes on at the end of the pier normally involves some blue humour, weak family jokes and some bloke pulling knotted hankies out of a hat. Bollocks. Nobody wants to see that anymore. So instead, Broadway shows; Profound political or philosophical plays; lively debates and maybe some nice music from whichever artist is trendy to have in ones collection these days.

Screaming kids – the seaside, as every parent knows, is not a safe place for children. What with sand allergies, the risk of jellyfish stings, sea monsters and even people taking pictures of their own family which might capture your kids image too trapping their soul forever in some 2 dimensional vortex like in Superman II or that episode of Sapphire and Steel. Indeed while freedom of expression is healthy for a child, the seaside is not the place for them. Far too many dangers. Instead the rotting chalets and beach huts can be converted into soundproof, paedophile safe, allergy free, hermetic containers for children. Simply place the child in and leave until such time as you need to return. Of course you could just not bring the little shit in the first place.

Old People – Old people don’t belong at the seaside. In Gated-Community-la-Mer, old people will be restricted to certain “oodyarememberwen” zones. Safe. Warm. Miles away.

Fairgrounds – Fairgrounds attract the unwashed. Bulldozing them (or accidentally on purpose setting them on fire (the fairgrounds that is, not the unwashed)) would solve this problem. In their place, delightful formal gardens to promenade around. Of course the gardens would have to cater for those with allergies so any flower within would, of course, be artificial.

See even with just a few paragraphs I have turned an atypical British Seaside resort into a place where YOU would want to go. Yes YOU because that is what market research has shown and as we all know nobody can argue with market research.

If I go….I’ll send you a postcard email.


Abridged version

Seasides -> Bulldoze them.

Bah Humbug – Final edition Part 24

Day 24 – People that moan about Christmas

Miserable fuckers. All they do is bring everyone down. “Oh I hate Christmas, it sucks” and “It’s not as good as it used to be”.

Personally, I think by doing away with the whole festive season you would actually do away with these incessant moaners. Sitting there with their bottom lip on the floor. Anyone would think they had wasted a shit load of money on a load of old junk and eaten so much they had to diet for the next three months as a penance.

People like that should count their blessings. It could be worse, they could be in debt, fallen out with family members or some how broke bones when walking in the snow and ice.

I hear that the poor children in Africa aren’t sitting round moaning about the Christmas period. They’re more likely to be moaning that they had corn maize and flies again for dinner.

And then there are those that don’t get irony. They ask for it and all they get is socks. I mean how can you press your shirt and trousers with socks?

Now…does anyone want this strange smelling old Aunt that’s been sat in the corner drinking all the port? Oh and you can take them decorations down now, they make the house look untidy.

Have you kept the receipt?

Continue reading “Bah Humbug – Final edition Part 24”

Bah Humbug – Part 23

Day 23 – Dinnertime

So there I am. I’m sat waiting for my dinner. My tummy rumbles and groans as the perfume of roasting meats and vegetables permeate the air. But because my eldest brother is working late we have to wait for him. Of course this means that the usual Christmas day dinner time of 2pm has long passed and it is approaching a gut gnawing 5pm. He arrives. The meal begins.

So there I am. Asked to sing at a special specific Christmas day carol service. The lack of public transport and reluctance for people to give me a lift (I bare an uncanny resemblance to Peter Sutcliffe) means that I have to walk the 3 miles from the church to the family home. I arrive at 3pm. The meal has long been consumed. I am left with a shrivelled and desiccated dinner in the microwave on the none matching dinner plate, the none matching cutlery, the none matching place mat and the cracker from the previous Christmas.

So there I am. Much older. Much wiser. Still sitting on the odd chair, eating from the none-matching dinner plate with the none matching cutlery while observing that the other dinner guests have matching plates and cutlery. It was at this time…I realised….I was special specific. Something like that sticks with you for life.

Anyway, I digress, dinner time. Every year my mum would ask “Do you want sprouts?” “Do you want Parsnips?” “Do you want Christmas Pudding?” and every year I would reply “No mother, I have been eating here since 1973 and you should know by now that I do not partake in the illegal consumption of sprouts/parsnips/Christmas pudding (delete as applicable)”. So to avoid any arguments I will now do a poll to find out your preferences for Christmas dinner.

And it came to pass that Aham son of Joheb didst place the said poll behind the cut and saw that it was good.

[LJ2ME] Bah Humbug – part 22

day 22 – giant green radioactive maggots

There is simply just nothing more frustating about christmas than giant green radioactive maggots. They’re everywhere! I really cannot see the appeal or see any reason why people insist on having them. All they do is ooze slime all over the place and lay eggs in the ears of sleeping people.

Bah Humbug – Part 21

Day 21 – Traffic Chaos

Much akin to the problems with snow, the Christmas period is renown for traffic problems. This year, it seems, is no exception.

If it’s not snow causing gridlock and road closures it’s everyone travelling at once to get from A to B. Traffic jams, slow moving queues and giant maggots blocking motorways, traffic at Christmas can be as taxing as the VAT on presents. Today, it took me 40 minutes to travel my usual 20 minute journey from Brierley to Barnsley. Mostly due to people deciding, quite rightly, to crawl along the snow covered roads at 20mph. Now I wouldn’t usually mind because I am a fairly considerate chap but when I say “snow covered roads” I am exaggerating. It was mush. Mush covered roads. So there was plenty of grip and traction and very little in the way of ice.

I recall one year travelling from Wakefield to Liverpool on the M62 and I saw 8 cars broken down. Foolishly the wife exclaimed “Imagine being broken down on a motorway at Christmas!” just as the Vectra decided that enough was enough and veered toward the hard shoulder. Oh how we laughed as we later ate reheated Christmas dinner all dried up and shrivelled.

And yet a previous year we managed to travel the 80 miles in just under an hour!

This is because, in Britain, if you want to get an idea of what it was like travelling on Motorways in the 1970’s you should set out on a journey on Christmas day. For you will behold how empty the roads can be.

But not to be outdone, this year the good old Christmas demons have pulled out all of the stops. My sojourn to Liverpool this evening has gone the way of the last bus as the exwife in her infinite wisdom went to Eurodisney this weekend.

Now, if you have been hiding under a rock this week or you live in the US, you probably won’t know that the Channel Tunnel (that railway line that connects Britain to the continent) suffered failures and has been closed since Friday night because of the cold. This means the Exwife is now stuck in France, though last I heard they were going to catch a ferry instead. Because of this, my visit to the olds and Liverpool has had to be postponed until tomorrow throwing my plans out by one day boo hiss.

So my effort to thwart the Christmas travel chaos has been….thwarted and tomorrow I face a long drive over the M62 to that jewel in the West coast through yet more ice and loads of trucks and lorries making that last minute Christmas delivery and tonight I spend time in the company of the ever so conversational puss cats. Joy!

Big. Hairy. Monkey. Balls

Bah Humbug – Part 20

Day 20 – Mad Friday

Venturing into Barnsley town centre on the last Friday before Christmas is possibly the stupidest thing to do ever. Unless of course you like thronging crowds of pissed up Yorkshire people vomitting, fighting and being squeezed like sardines into the variety of bars and clubs there are in the metropolitan area.

Personally, I’m glad I didn’t bother. I mean getting jostled about and crammed into bars is not my idea of fun. But be under no illusion. Mad Friday, or Black Friday as it is known in some areas, is a national, if not international, phenomenon.

Seriously, do people like this kind of thing? Is it a new level of socialising I’ve just not grasped? Another example of me doing life wrong?

My idea of fun is sitting in a nice quiet bar, enjoying audible conversation about old toot whilst supping refreshing beers from around the country. Not trying to move my elbow to lift a lukewarm lager to my lips in a sardine tin rugby scrum of buffoons and underdressed ladies whilst my legs ache from trying my best to remain standing in between jostles. Bah. Humbug.