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Saturday 21 July 2018

'Happy Xmas'... it will be once I don't hear Lennon's drivel

John Lennon
John Lennon

"And so this is Christmas, and what have you done," go the opening lines to the well-known John Lennon Christmas hit 'Happy Xmas (War is Over)'. In my humble opinion, it is one of the worst songs ever written.

Only that it came from the pen of the great Beatle himself, it would have remained undiscovered, unplayed, unheard and consigned to the musical dust bin where millions of similar bedsit dirges lie in merciful and eternal silence. If any ordinary mortal had approached a record company with that awful piece of codswallop, he or she wouldn't have made it past the key-change in the first verse before being shown the door.

Fans of the American sitcom, Friends, or those with kids who watch endless reruns of the show will be familiar with the character Phoebe, a gormless singer-songwriter with an inflated sense of her own talent - a legend in her own lunchtime. The aforementioned Lennon song sounds like something Phoebe might have penned in one of her less inspired moments.

With that off my chest, I feel better. I've wanted to say it for years, but fear of incurring the wrath of hordes of Beatlemaniacs has deterred me. Thankfully I'm at that stage in life where I don't care anymore. While I'm a keen admirer of Mr Lennon's work, I regard 'Happy Xmas (War is Over)' as proof that even the most talented are capable of drivel. The song's success as a Christmas hit also proves that millions of people are not only willing to listen to drivel, but are prepared to pay for it on an annual basis.

Now that I'm on a bit of a bah-humbug roll, maybe I should continue. Another of my Yuletide yuks is Christmas pudding. For years I've been very mannerly and polite and told lies about this. Now I'm going to tell the truth - I don't like Christmas pudding. I will admit that, aesthetically, it is very pleasing - it looks lovely, there is nothing as visually redolent of Christmas as the sight of a plump conical pud with a sprig of holly on top. Wreathed in the ephemeral blue cloak of combusting alcohol, it is as Christmas as a carol.

However, the ingredients that make up the thing are shrouded in a mystery worthy of Fatima. At a guess, the rich dark mound has fruit and flour and nutmeg and eggs and treacle and whatever else can be found in the rusty USA biscuit box that holds an array of seasonings and spices. These exotic ingredients see daylight but once a year when they are flung in fists-full into a big bowl where the viscous mix is twisted and turned until the twister and turner develops bulging biceps of Schwarzenegger-esque proportions.

After nearly six decades of pushing Christmas pudding around the edges of dessert bowls, I can only now admit publicly that I don't like the stuff. I find it stodgy, acidic and heartburn-inducing. I have administered it to myself for over half a century - as one might a dose of cod-liver oil - making it palatable by soaking it in custard. If the truth be known, it's the custard I like. That admission could earn me a sojourn in the doghouse.

The Good Book tells us "the truth will set you free", but a truth like this could set me free to find my own Christmas dinner wherever I want to. Is there a good chipper open anywhere in the midwest on Christmas Day?

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Confession is good for the soul and I'm feeling better already. I might as well keep at it. Christmas crackers, they're the next on my hit list, not the crackers themselves, not even the corny jokes contained therein - it's the hats, the silly party hats that fall into the soup when you accept the challenge from your neighbour and pull. In fact, it's an act of mercy when the accursed hat plops into the soup or sticks to the nearest lump of clotted cream.

I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would want to wear one of those things, to sit there like a court jester at a mediaeval feast. There is every likelihood that the colour of the flimsy piece of headgear will clash with the new jumper you got from Auntie Madge who is sitting across from you arrayed in her finest pearls, but whose elegance is completely subverted by the luminous green party hat perched precariously on top of her festive perm.

And so, I've said it all now. I hope I haven't put you off your Yuletide celebrations. To make it up to you, I'll give you a sneak preview of a festive ditty of my own:

"And so this is Christmas, and what have I done?

"You're probably wondering, who has eaten my bun.

"A very merry Christmas, I could be so wrong.

"You might love Christmas pudding,

"And that John Lennon song."

In truth, I really like Christmas, if for no other reason than it brings a sparkle to the darkest of days. When the world is mud-spattered and the trees are skeletal, when the breeze brings on its back either a thick Atlantic mist or a thousand Arctic icicles, it is good to have this window in the wintertime, to have this season when we open our eyes to the richness of the evergreen and the deep red warmth of the berries. When we open our ears to the crackle of the fire and the singing of the choir - it's a time to dance while the earth sleeps.

Indo Farming

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