Much as I try to deny it, with passing years I bear an increasing resemblance to the title character of ‘Santa Claus - The Movie’. Somewhere in the middle of the film, where Tim Allen is ‘changing’ into Santa, could well be me. Although those that know me will agree a certain physical similarity with the ‘jolly fellow’ I don’t possess his sunny disposition. And it’s this time of year that exaggerates that trait.
I’ll explain. When did your local radio begin playing ‘seasonal songs? Your shopping centre start exuding Christmas songs? This week, last week? Well a shopping centre near me surpassed themselves this year with Christmas displays in late October and piped Christmas music in early November. The deluge increased with illuminated snowflakes, seasonal ‘special offers’, whole aisles dedicated to cards until every outlet plays ‘Christmas music’.
Now, I’m not an advocate of the Ebenezer Scrooge School of celebration. I love Christmas - family, friends, festivities - but does the ‘festive season’ have to begin months ahead of the date with an outpouring of ‘Christmas music’? Which prompts another question - why the compulsion to make ‘Christmas records’? Of course, there are some memorable, some half-way decent, some tolerable but the majority are absolute howlers. Yet every year various artists launch themselves on the Christmas record bandwagon and millions of us are subjected to their outpourings. And too often, the outstanding and the good are overtaken by the awful and the utterly abominable.
Among the memorable are the folk-tinged ‘Fairytale of New York’, ‘Gaudette’ and ‘In Dulci Jubilo’, along with ‘Stop the Cavalry’, ‘I Believe in Father Christmas’ and ‘2000 Miles’. The half-way decent include ‘A Winter's Tale’, the surprising ‘Stay Another Day’ and ‘Christmas Wrapping’; then there’s the almost tolerable ‘A Spaceman Came Travelling’, ‘When a Child Is Born’ and even the camped up ‘Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End)’.
Naturally, there are also the hoary old chestnuts of constant fare such as the venerable ‘White Christmas’ plus ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, ‘Lonely This Christmas’, ‘Do They Know It's Christmas?’ and ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ - songs that despite their actual release date seem to have been around for hundreds of years.
Fair enough I suppose, but why do the absolute howlers endure? And why does everywhere persist in playing them. Oh how I hate the tedious ‘Last Christmas’, the sickly sweet ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ and the cringingly awful ‘Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.
Never mind, it’s all going to be over by 2 January and we can prepare ourselves for the onslaught of jolly summer holiday songs and travel agent adverts. And for those that live for tinsel and trees, it will only seem like the blink of an eye before it all comes round again. Then again, maybe Ricky Tomlinson summed it all up to perfection with ‘Christmas My Arse’.