Happy New Year (Part 1)

I’ve always loved New Year’s Eve more than I loved Christmas.

For me, the two events are very different beasts: Christmas is a time for family, New Year is a time for friends.

Over the past few years, going out on New Year’s Eve has happened less and less frequently, to the point where I know that tonight I will be home alone, having a wee drink or seven, and trying to avoid watching the bloody Hootenanny (which I’m sure is very entertaining, but – recorded in October – it’s the last bastion for lonely folks as the year ends, not something I care to admit to: I’m alone but not lonely, thanks very much).

I’m perfectly happy with this, by the way. I’m in my 50s now, but for much of my 40s I really couldn’t be arsed with going out on New Year’s Eve anymore anyway: it’s too expensive, you have to wait an age to get served at the bar, and generally there’s nowhere to sit (fellow over 40s will appreciate this more than anything else), all the good seats having been snaffled up hours ago by those annoyingly young people and their seemingly unlimited disposable income.

Since I moved to That London just over eleven years ago now, my NYE nights have been predominantly spent alone – one night out in Camden in my ‘Freshers’ year (really enjoyable, but bloody rammed), a couple of nights at friend’s house parties, a house party that Hel and I threw which I wrote about here and indeed here (which, Hel tells me, was ten years ago tonight, which it must be, as Hel is wrong even less frequently than me, if such a thing is possible).

Being at home alone on New Year’s Eve means there’s no peer pressure: I can go to bed whenever I want, drink as much or as little (yeah, right) as I want, and I don’t have to pretend to be impressed or excited by fireworks. Tonight, for example, I will be continuing to unpack following my recent decanting from my flat. (Yes, I have been back almost a month. No, I haven’t finished yet. I’ve had a bad back. And a cold. Not forgetting I am, essentially, a lazy sod.)

What I’m trying to say is that I quite like being at home on New Year’s Eve, and if you are too, then welcome. You’re really not alone.

Of course things were different when I was younger, and I would often be met with bemused looks from friends when I announced that I preferred going out on New Year’s Eve to going out at Christmas.

There’s a few reasons for that; firstly, New Year’s Eve is unburdened by any religious connotations. Secondly, many will have been lounging arojnd at home for a few days, and will emerge, batteries recharged, and frankly desperate to get away from their families. And thirdly, back then there was the promise of a midnight snog.

The occasions where I didn’t get lucky far outweighed those when I did, of course.

I hope this doesn’t come across as creepy or spark a #MeToo movement against my blog, for I was (I hope) always a perfect gentleman – but this song pretty much sums things up:

LCD Soundsystem – Drunk Girls

More (very) soon.

It's Chriiiiistmas!!!

Okay, I know you’re probably all sick of hearing this song by now, but hear me out.

Since I started writing this blog, every year on the 18th December I’ve posted something in memory of the late great Kirsty MacColl, that being the anniversary of her sad, horrific, death.

But this year time got the better of me, and I didn’t get round to writing anything.

And so here we are, posting a song which I had largely tried to avoid posting, so obvious a choice is it, so synonymous with her name.

But ask me what my favourite Christmas pop single is, and this will be the first title to spill from my gob, probably showering you in mince pie detritus.

Plus, today is Shane MacGowan’s birthday, so there’s double the reason to mention it.

About twenty years or so ago, my parents, having retired, bought a plot of land in Ireland and built a home for themselves. I would visit every Christmas, and they would pick me up from the nearest airport or ferry terminal.

On the drive home, we’d have the radio on, and this song would be played more than any other song I have ever heard; it was like it was the National Anthem and every radio station was obliged to play it at least once an hour.

It got to the point where when the opening bars started, we would groan and skip to a different channel, waiting until it was inevitably played again, at which point we would restart the process.

A few weeks ago, during my enforced stay at a Travelodge, I popped to see my parents for the weekend (they have moved back to the UK). On the car journey back from the train station, it came on the radio and my Dad, instead of changing channels, turned it up.

He spotted my knowing look and simply said: “You can’t deny that it’s a good record, can you?”

So, with absolutely no apologies for posting something so obvious, here you go. Happy Christmas.

The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York

And that’s me done for another year. There might be another post around New Year’s Eve, we’ll see if inspiration strikes.

But in the meantime, whether you’ve stumbled upon this place for the first time today, or regularly revisit, a very Merry Christmas to you and yours.

More soon.

It's Chriiiiistmas!!!

There aren’t many Christmas tunes about getting a train back to your family, so, since that is my preferred method of transport today (with a replacement bus or two tossed in for good measure) I’ll have to make do with this, glorious and kitsch as one would expect:

Saint Etienne – Driving Home for Christmas

I’m not sure that Lady Cracknell has ever sounded so warm and seductive as she does there.

Ahem. Best have a quick cold shower before I head off.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down (It's Chriiiiistmas!!! edition)

Oh so many Country artists have squeezed a Christmas album or two out in their time, where should the focus fall this year?

Right here.

John Prine is a legend of Country music, and in 1994 he released A John Prine Christmas, an album dominated by Prine original compositions, but I’ve picked one of the few cover versions from it for today.

Originally recorded by Jimmy Boyd back in the 1950s, this has been covered more times, and more famously, by many others, but here’s Prine’s take:

John Prine – I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

On Tuesday, at work, we had a department conference, followed by a ‘Christmas’ meal (it was in a local Turkish restaurant, so whilst delicious, it wasn’t especially Christmassy) and then a few of us went for a pint afterwards.

At some point during the day, someone said something which caused a penny to drop: shit! It’s Christmas next week!!

Somehow, as I’ve got older, I’ve become a bit more organised. Christmas is always spent at my parents, so all I have to do is turn up with presents, and maybe some booze. The presents aspect I had locked down months ago, so I genuinely hadn’t realised how close the day was.

And so my first thought was not about what I needed to buy, but rather this: bloody hell, I haven’t posted any Christmas songs yet!

And, strictly speaking, that isn’t going to change now, because this isn’t really a Christmas song, but it does always make me feel kinda Christmassy, in a good-will-to-all-men kinda way:

Freiheit – Keeping the Dream Alive

Mullets and other bad 80s hair-do’s: now that‘s what I call Christmassy.

More soon.