There we all were sitting in Birmingham’s Pieminister pie restaurant, having strolled through the madhouse cum war zone that is Birmingham on a Saturday night. The muzak was bearable enough, even when a group of women started to sing along, mostly to songs I didn’t even recognise. Then it happened: on Saturday 5th October 2019 the sleigh bells, the drum machine and the synthesiser, joined by George Michael. Last Christmas.
I appreciate that this is not likely to have been people’s first experience of the 2019 Christmas experience. Every supermarket I have been to has had an aisle of festive goodies, some since August, apparently. I have seen the gripes on social networks, at who this is all far too early, but whose fault is that? Ours.
The Big Supermarkets would not be flogging Christmas goods unless people were buying them. These baubles and chocolates are not there as some kind of public service, to give us a prod in case we have forgotten the festive season. They are there for them to make a shedload of money.
Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against Christmas. Despite not having a religious bone in my body, I actually like Christmas. I like being at home, in the pub, with my family and friends, giving presents and receiving them. And for just one day a year, I can glug a few large glasses of Warnink’s Advocaat (a product that was once advertised by a man saying, “Evenings und mornings, I drink Warnink’s”). But the music. I’ve come to dread it.
When Jona Lewie released his Stop the Cavalry tune back in 1982, I thought it a decent enough ditty. But then it was on every hour on every radio station in every shop. And it has been ever since. Sadly, I have the same feelings about Shane McGowan’s Fairytale of New York, particularly since I now know there is no NYPD choir. I’m afraid Slade and Wizzard’s efforts affect me the same way and don’t even start me off with Elton John’s monstrosity Step Into Christmas, Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmas Time and Shakin’ Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone. Call me a curmudgeon, I don’t care. John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War is over) – spoiler alert: it isn’t – I can just about bear, but not every hour on the hour.
I do think early October is way too early for George Michael’s Last Christmas (Andrew Ridgeley wasn’t even on it) but I know I am fighting a lost cause. I am even thinking of hibernating, or living in the shed until January. It couldn’t be any less miserable.