IT’S CHRISTMAAAAS!

Well – no it isn’t, not quite, but I heard Noddy Holder’s ear-splitting observation yesterday for the first time this festive season. I have, by dint of doing most of my shopping online, managed to avoid the usual chain-store musak earworms of Christmas past and present. Everything from Bing Crosby to Paul McCartney, via Greg Lake, Judy Garland,Wham, Johnny Mathis, John Lennon, Band Aid and the ubiquitous Cliff, on a continuous loop of mawkish merriment to cheer us up and encourage spending. This year, Christmas joviality seems to have pranced early, trailing sequinned bling, into October – perhaps an effort to lighten the days of Brexit and whine?

One song currently absent from many playlists (sadly one of my favourites) is Fairytale of NewYork, the duet between the late, great Kirsty MacColl and Pogues’ frontman Shane MacGowan. Probably, the least said about the ‘f’ word the better – but I still like the song. Another, which does seem appropriate in the light of the centenary of WW1, is Jona Lewie’s Stop the Cavalry. And I always know Christmas is imminent when we include The Cherry Tree Carol, Sweet Chiming Bells and Joni Mitchell’s River in our folk club set.

To be truthful, though, I do love Christmas – even an overtly commercialised, too expensive for its own good, neon-signed Christmas, which arrives drunk and disorderly, wearing trashy party clothes and too much lipstick, demanding another drink. Certainly in this small corner of rural Dorset, Christmas has a cosier and simpler feel. The village streets and shop windows sparkle and glitter, cottages and farmhouses are illuminated and cheerful and the postman, naturally fat and rosy, delivers cards and small parcels wearing a lopsided Santa hat and beaming almost as much as the real thing (what do you mean Santa isn’t real?)

And then there are the children. Nativity plays – I have gone through boxes of tissues watching them over the years. The holy family and entourage, in their best tea-towels and dressing up remnants, with a dolly in a box, singing their hearts out (of tune?), going for an Oscar in over-acting, nose picking, scratching, fidgetting and bickering openly onstage about whose turn it is/whose line it is/who stands where, whilst waving in the most un-thespian like fashion at doting mothers, grandmas and anyone with a camera. Away in a Manger always finishes me off – either sentimental tears or stuffing my gloves in my mouth to stifle hysterical laughter. (The little King who had brought Frankenstein for the baby and the wee boy who loudly carolled how, having no crib for a bed, the little rat Caesar lay down his swee ted)

And anyway, who doesn’t like giving –and getting – presents? Speaking of which. If you have any friends who love poetry, you could do worse than pop a 4Word pamphlet (or two) into their stocking. www.4Word.org/titles  And do keep an eye on us for lots of new titles due in 2019, from yet more wonderful poets.

In the meantime, Stella and I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas, wherever you may be, and a Peaceful, Prosperous and Poetic New Year filled with Love.

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