It’s taken a while this year but at last, the burd is definitely in full on festive mood. And has the hangover to prove it.
So, for all you Scrooges out there still refusing to release your inner Santa, here are a few choons to help you on your way.
First up, an obvious one. The idea of putting Kirsty McColl and Shane McGowan together was so preposterous, it was always going to work. A brilliant song, wonderful vocals, great musicianship, a top class video: Fairytale of New York was destined to become a classic. Play it loud!
As you can imagine, the run up to Christmas in the burdz nest, with a seven year old chicklet, is filled with excitement, merriment and occasionally tears and tantrums. The Christmas CDs are on constant play but fortunately for my ears and sanity, the Boy Wonder has a wee likening for a bit of swing. We like this one. We hope you do too.
Aye, you cannae beat the swing maestros for superlative Christmas crooning. And this selection wouldn’t be complete without a little smidgeon of Frank. What do I care? Quite a lot actually. “I will weather the storm”.
And to finish, a completely unobvious one but I love it. If you ain’t ever heard of Purple Snowflakes, you don’t know what you’re missing. An exquisite song by Marvin Gaye which thankfully hasn’t been spoiled by too many cheesy cover versions. Best served with a loved one close by and a chilled glass of Prosecco.
… something new
I struggled to find you something brand new and festive. And I certainly wasn’t gonna plug the X factor single. The best I could come up with was a fab cover version of White Nights, an excellent yet disturbing festive little number first recorded by Psycho TV and covered here by The Golden Filter. Haunting and gothic. Perfect for us here in the frozen north.
Keeping on with the haunting theme, I am hoping that BBC Four – undoubtedly the best channel on the box – continues its tradition of showing a new adaptation of an M R James classic Ghost Story for Christmas. I remember seeing the full series of original Stories from the 70s only a few years ago, and being thoroughly spooked. You can find out more about the stories and dramas from past years on the BBC Four website. Better still, if out shopping this weekend, track down a copy of M R James’s original stories. If you think the films are spooky, wait until you read the tales….
But if scary isn’t your thang, and you are desperate to release your inner child, or just entertain the real ones threatening to turn you into the Grinch that stole Christmas, well worry ye not. There is always NORAD tracks Santa and it comes complete with the kind of Christmas tale to warm even the frostiest of snowmen.
For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight.
The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.
In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.
Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to phone calls and emails from children all around the world. Millions of people who want to know Santa’s whereabouts now visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website, including the media from all over the world who rely on NORAD as a trusted source to provide updates on Santa’s journey.
Now with the advent of technology you can satellite track Santa’s journey across the globe. Superb huh?
If that ain’t enough, Santa’s village opens a new shop everyday with games, puzzles and activities to enjoy. It’ll keep the over-excited bairn in your life – big or small – entertained for hours.
Well I’ve entertained you, cheered you, spooked you and now to make you pause and contemplate. If you’re anything like me, you might even have a wee greet. And given our current weather, it is particularly apposite: our midwinter is bleak indeed.
This is my all time favourite carol, sad, melancholy and oh so meaningful. And it doesn’t get any better than when sung by a cathedral choir. I like this version because it’s not perfect but it is emotional; a community coming together in song. Though this acoustic version, first plundered on Peat Warrior’s blog, is also mighty fine. The photography is stunning.
For this one, I’d recommend candlelight, a logfire and a big glass of something amber and peaty.