Sunday, December 24, 2006

'Twas the night before Christmas

So yes its that time of the year... the frantic present buying and wrapping is over and done with, work can be forgotten for a day or two and this is my chance to wish a tolerable Christmas to all of those that may read this. If you don't celebrate Christmas well I hope you have a good couple of days anyway.

So the last two days I've spent quite a bit of time doing my annual last minute Christmas shopping, buying rubbish for people that don't want it, the usual thing. This has taken me into a lot of shops however, and as my quest to do more careful listening continues I have found this an interesting, if depressing time to have one's ears fully open on the high street out there.
People walking about in the street raise their voices more at this time of the year, snippets of conversations as people rush past sound fraught, worried, and the sounds from the street musicians have obviously changed, with even Oxford's resident didgeridoo busker attempting a version of Silent Night. Cars move faster (or so it seems) engines rev harder, and the Big Issue sellers take to wishing you a Merry Christmas whether you want to have one or not.

In shops the background music (muzak?) has the inevitable Christmas twist to it, but when you really stop and listen its amazing how few Christmas songs there are in rotation. Over here in old blighty we get Slade's 'Merry Christmas Everybody' , Wizzard's 'I wish it could be Christmas every day' , and Shakin' Stevens' 'Merry Christmas Everyone' over and over again, with a few other similar tracks joining them, but despite the endless stream of Christmas crap that comes out every year the only song from recent years that seems to have joined that elite group is Fairytale of New York, by The Pogues with the late Kirsty MaColl. This is quite pleasing as that song is by miles the best Christmas song ever written, but I fear that if I hear it many more times its magic may well begin to diminish, and it will fast join Jonah Lewie's 'Stop the Cavalry' as a song I really hope I never hear again.

There were a couple of odd moments whilst listening to in-store music over recent days. (I actually took notes of what was playing as we wandered about... Julie very nearly disowned me!) A branch of Borders played the standard Christmas fare at one end of the shop (Band Aid's 'Do they know its Christmas?' to be precise) but what sounded like a 'Best of Punk' compilation at the other, as The Clash's 'London Calling' and the Damned's 'New Rose' were both played. Standing just in between Biographies and New Hardback Fiction seemed to provide the perfect stereo mix.
In the very staid and mock traditional environment of Whittard's Tea and Coffee Shop a drum and bass album played very quietly in the background, and from where we sat and recovered with a hot drink the breaks in the music were filled by the sound of an amateur choir serenading that good king called Wenceslas particularly badly in the shopping centre outside, and an obnoxious child not happy that his parents chose a cup of tea in Whittards over a milkshake in McDonalds.

Finally, close listening revealed to me that the various Santas in various grottos around the town all seemed to have a Polish accent this year... sign of the times?!

Anyway, have a good one.

2 comments:

robert said...

Oddly enough while I was also out doing some last minute shopping in a chain store, I heard London Calling as well. Which to be honest was a welcome change (even more welcome was finding a couple of Earle Brown cds at this particular shop...)

Happy holidays Richard.

LukaZ said...

no ''Last Christmas'' from our beloved Wham?