9 to 5

In which our reluctant hero faces a change in routine.

My wife started a new job this week. Not a proper job, like a bus driver or binman or Gender Equality Champion at the Lady Doritos factory, but a job, nevertheless.

We’ve somehow managed over five years of stay at home parenting for the little people. Go us! This seems like a minor miracle with the various strains of 21st Century life, but one, thankfully, made easier by Jesus inventing Lidl, newspaper holidays and bullet journal based budget trackers.

Our five-year old has taken it in her stride. As the world’s best eater of breakfast, she is ecstatic at getting to have three, maybe four or five, breakfasts of a morning thanks to the extra ones at Breakfast Club. We’re not sure how many exactly as the first rule of Breakfast Club is: you do not talk about Breakfast Club.

She loves the hour or so at After School Club too, although I’m not yet convinced that she gets that it’s playtime and not school time. The biscuit mixture cemented to her tights at home time last night may be an indicator of progress, though.

The boy hasn’t taken it quite so well and is a little confused. Why does big sister get to disappear off in the car with mum when he has to scoot to school with Dad or get a lift with his school friend? Why is our car on the school car park when he gets there and why is mum in the office? Why are there suddenly loads of letters to post every morning?

“Organising is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” – A. A. Milne

There’s much more planning to be done too. Butties need to be assembled the night before, uniforms need getting out and all of the other random rubbish they take in and bring back each day needs finding. Even tea needs thinking about a night ahead. Emergency beige food is surprisingly off the menu as there just isn’t time to bang it in the oven before bed. Hoorah for freezers and Tupperware.

The job is term time, which is massively helpful for holibobs. Seeing as my wife be off for around thirteen weeks a year, I’m assuming that I can take my leave when everyone else is in. Maybe I can also go to somewhere other than Butlins. Seems reasonable, yes?

The school run walk on my working at home days has been pleasant (asides from this morning’s unexpected blizzard) and 8,000 steps of my ten a day are done by not much after nine. I even get to do my second best fun thing to do by popping into the Co-Op to scavenge for bargains from the reduced aisle. Sixteen pence for a pack of sausages the other day, without a lie.

The house is nearly always child free, so should never get messy again. Probably.

And even better than all that is we’re (apparently) going to be better parents from now as we’ll appreciate the little people more and want to do fun things with them and read more stories and have more cuddles. Or something.

While this is a lovely thought, I’m more used to doing the being out all day thing than mum. Despite best intentions, dealing with tired kids after a long day doesn’t always make Daddy Bear the most cuddly or tolerant giant mammal in the woods, especially if he has a sore head and failed to find any toilet paper during walkabout.

Short-term it’s only the dual drop offs that present any real problems. Fortunately, there are only a few months before summer, after which both little people become imprisoned in HMP Education System until they are sixteen.

At this point they can forget about all that highfalutin “A Level” nonsense and leave to take up one of the two professions absolutely nailed on to coin it in come 2030. Plumbing and Tattoo Removal.

Plumbing, because everyone needs to keep their plumbing in good working order (especially at my age) and Tattoo Removal because have you seen what folk who really should know better keep doing to themselves these days? Didn’t they learn anything at school?

Fin.

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Rules of the House

In which our reluctant hero considers who rules the roost. Or something.

A funny thing happened on the way to the theatre. Or it may have done, had I stumbled across some passing Emergency Entertainment en route to a show during the closing seven weeks or so of Panto at The Grand. But I didn’t. And I didn’t. This happened instead.

For reasons best known to herself, our barely five-year-old daughter decided to make a list of house rules.

Armed with a handful of pink felt pens and a sheet of pink paper, she set about this Herculean challenge. Would she remember enough from phonics lessons to come up with a list? Would the rules make sense? And, given the amount of pink involved, how would we know either way?

There’s nothing like a pile of ill-thought-out-and-not-really-all-that-enforceable-boundaries as a surefire guarantee of compliant behaviour in small children. And grown-ups. Probably.

Some help was needed, so I chipped in with some early suggestions during the scoping and ideas generation stage. These were to be fed into the formal Terms of Reference documentation later.

And most genius suggestions that they were too.

  1. Everyone must listen to Dad and do what Dad says
  2. Dad gets to pick the final rules

The first one was clearly going to be a non-starter despite considerable evidence to suggest that fewer accidents and breakages would occur, and Dad could postpone his impending nervous breakdown for a few more weeks if implemented.

With proposal one knocked back, proposal two was struck off by default, although it was encouraging to learn that people can actually bother listening when they want to.

Draft one of the rules read something like;

House Rules

  • Tidy Up
  • Be kind
  • No tablets at the dinner table
  • Keep you (sic) safe
  • No jumping on the sofa
  • No jumping on the bed
  • No picking up Audrey
  • Not Momo or Audrey either

Things got a little cat focused towards the end, possibly as the cats were being terrorised by a three year old wanting cat cuddles at the time. But the list was complete. Hoorah.

And that was that. Everybody lived happily ever after and none of the rules were broken ever again.

Fin.

Later that week, I finished washing up and headed to the living room for a well deserved sit on the boy’s sofa. Two children were busy jumping up and down on it.

“Erm… Wasn’t no jumping on the sofa a house rule?”
“Yes, but we didn’t all agree the rules Daddy. WHEE… LOOK AT ME!”

This was a crisis. Probably. Decisive action was needed, so I immediately called a meeting of the emergency COBRA (Can’t Overlook Breaking Rules Anymore) committee.

The original rules were passed, despite objections from the boy about the last two. But there still seemed too few rules. What about the ones that the kids proposed that didn’t make it?

ORIGINAL PROPOSAL 1: No telly at the dining room table.

Yes, really. Apparently this was in error and is a stupid rule. And it’s not a rule anyway, as it hasn’t been agreed. Excellent. Cue argument about what to watch.

ORIGINAL PROPOSAL 2: No getting up until the sun is “up up” on the Groclock.

“That’s supposed to be a rule anyway. The clock is set for 7am. You need to stay in bed until then.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“It is!”
“No, it’s not an agreed one. I’m going to do a rule of getting up at five o’clock in the morning so we’re not late for school.”
“Mummy is not going to agree to that.”
“And going to bed at midnight.”
“Or that.”

Like a one-legged unicyclist with a flat tyre attempting Mount Kilimanjaro during National Avalanche Week, we were going nowhere, fast.

We hadn’t even got to the rules that are rules that are not on the list but most definitely need to be on the list either. Like not running away from mummy (“as it makes mummy cross”) and no using the road outside school to play “Horrace Goes Skiing.” Again.

Or those that should be on the list due to other misdemeanours. Like no pinching muesli bars and sneakily eating them under the dining room table, and no more glitter until next Christmas as we still haven’t managed to hoover last year’s bloody glitter out of the carpet yet.

At which point, I gave up.

“Look, that’s why there’s rules, understand? So that you think before you break ’em.”
Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time

Which, finally, is one rule worth sticking to.

Fin.

More Than Words

In which our reluctant hero is lost for words.

“The first thing you write down won’t bear any relation to what’s in your head and that’s always disappointing.”

Victoria Wood

The above quote, about overcoming the fear of the blank page, was the second thing that I wrote on my blank page to start this week’s blog. The first thing was “the square root of sod all,” which is ironic as it was exactly what was in my head when I first stabbed at the page after days of staring blankly at it.

Writing a blog is like teaching a child how to make coffee in somebody else’s kitchen. You know that all of the essential ingredients should be close to hand, but you struggle to find them. When you eventually start, there’s no knowing how much coffee will end up in the cup, and how much on the worktop. Once finished, you wonder whether it was coffee or Bisto that went in. The end result looks about right, but the content smells funny and nobody else seems to like it.

Writing is usually the easy bit of the creative process. Finding ideas is the real problem, trust me. A hundred or so words in, I’m still waiting for one.

This week has been a very nothing sort of week in a very nothing sort of month, which hasn’t helped.

The little people are doing their little people thing, as they do so nothing to note there. I’m also pretty sure that I’ve already covered every conceivable parenting angle (Series 0-5) already and, as I have said before, I never repeat myself.

There’s nothing interesting in the papers to kick-start things either. “All summer babies, even the boys, are going to be called Meghan” is about as exciting as it gets in the family-friendly story department. It is probably better for everyone if I avoid going near any California-centric parenting articles for the foreseeable future too, although this may help release my creative shackles, so to speak.

Fortunately, it is easier to stimulate creative thinking with the kids. “Use your imagination” is a surprisingly good fix for many a problem, from thinking up story ideas, to getting them to sleep, to explaining how their school pictures accidentally ended up in the recycling bin. All by themselves. Again.

There’s almost no limit to a child’s imagination. You can suggest pretty much anything, however crazy an idea, and they will believe it can happen. If the kids need to circumnavigate the globe in under two seconds to make their made-up story work, they spread their wings and fly. And why not?

Back on Planet Mum and Dad, if us grown-ups try the same, our subconscious copy editor turns the nagometer up to eleven.

“Don’t be daft… you can’t fly.”

“You haven’t even got wings. And if you had, you would need a wingspan of at least 6.7 metres. Where would you even keep them? There’s no room in the dining room.”

“Have you seen the state of yourself lately? If you ever get up, it’ll be like Hindenburg all over.”

“I bet that you haven’t applied to the Civil Aviation Authority for permission to take off either, have you?”

So, nothing observed, nothing read, and nothing suitable made up. And for those reasons, after three days, I have given up trying to write tonight’s blog. For the first time in twenty months, I have failed to create a post. Probably.

But rest assured, no matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. Just not mine. Just not this week.

Fin.

As Easy As Pie Face!

In which our reluctant hero meets The Phantom Flan Flinger. Or something.

The little people very nearly got a game called “Pie Face!” (or “Pie Facebook!” – thanks, autocorrect) for Christmas.

OK, “very nearly” is a slight porky pie. The game was certainly in our house on Christmas Eve. Having completed his fifteenth trip down from the distinctly attic-like magical elf toy factory, Father Christmas sat down with Mrs Claus and inspected the box.

“Nah.”

So, unwrapped, it was banished to the attic, never to be seen again. Forgotten forever. Like Ceefax, Top Gear, and people turning up on time.

But the elves had other ideas…

At some point between Father Christmas going back to work after the holidays and last weekend, Pie Face! mysteriously reappeared.

By Sunday morning, calls for the overpriced, plastic, harbinger of doom and disaster (probably) to be assembled hit fever pitch. Ah, go on, go on, go on…

Having long since lost his festive “Ho, ho, ho!”, Santa held out for about an hour before resorting to that last desperate act of a broken human grown-up(ish) man desperate for five minutes peace. You know the one.

“OK. But just one game. And don’t make a mess.”

For non-breeders, and those who managed to keep their offspring away from Nick Jr or YouTube for the last year, Pie Face! is a simple game for simple people. It works like this.

  • Find a semi-responsible adult to set up the apparatus as per the serving suggestion on the box.
  • Spin the spinner.
  • Pop head through the head shaped hole and randomly contort face.
  • Turn the fiddly little handle thing the number of times shown on the spinner.
  • Adopt brace position in anticipation of getting a “pie” in the face.
  • Repeat forever. Then for a bit more.
  • Reminisce that the whole thing looked much more fun on Tiswas when it was Sally James getting a good soaking.

(One for the kids there…)

Pie Face! does exactly what it says on the tin. Sadly it isn’t a game of calculating the circumference of a round-faced person’s face by multiplying its diameter by Pi, as I had initially hoped.

Being about to be hit in the face with a pie is the perfect metaphor for modern-day parenting. You live in constant fear that something bad is going to happen and know that, in the blink of the eye, there will be chaos, tears and a shedload more clearing up to do.

With the pie-flinging machine assembled on the kitchen table, it was almost time for launch. But like an empty crust in a dentist’s chair, the pie needed a filling.

The options were a wet sponge – most likely unpleasant but not that messy – or squirty cream. There’s nothing quite like the smell of decomposing dairy products to remind you of a happy Sunday morning, so we went with that.

Pie loaded, there was no going back. Well, maybe there was. Mum was up first. Fortunately, I’m not quite as stupid as I look.

SPLAT!

In no time Pie Face! had delivered. Mum was covered in cream, the kids were in stitches and I was the proud owner of an amusing GIF of a fun family moment, preserved for future generations. Or to be used in an emergency social media post. Whatever.

The kids were next up, and they loved it… right up to the point where they got splatted in the face with a pie.

This, unexpectedly, took an age to happen. There was no SPLAT! during the first round of play. Our eldest dodged a covering with her first spin of round two also. By this point the tension was greater than Derren Brown playing Russian Roulette with a loaded gun on live telly.

Either me or the boy were getting it next spin. It was bound to be me. Or was it?

I spun another five. Bugger. Click, click, click, click, click… Nothing. Sorry son.

SPLAT!

Another round, another five spin bullet dodged by me. It was time for our daughter to get one in the eye.

SPLAT!

And that cue brought an end to the day’s play. No tears, a surprising amount of fun, and only one minor issue.

“Daddy. We don’t like the cream. Can we use the sponge next time, please?”

A Tip Top response. But a few days later, it was seemingly back to square one. Pie Face! was back out. So was the squirty cream. The children were there, obviously, but they looked like they had something to say.

And then it came. An unexpected Emergency Motion. Blimey.

An amendment to the rules was being proposed. An amendment that, yes, we would all play Pie Face! but only mummies, and daddies, were allowed to put their heads through the hole to get splatted. With cream.

An interesting twist, but like a badly aimed splat, it was, sadly, just pie in the sky.

Fin.

Who Do You Think You Are, Boyo?

In which our reluctant hero considers his roots. And split ends. Or something.

With Christmas done for another eight months, I returned to work for a bit of a rest. I wasn’t keen on doing any actual proper work this early into the year, so decided to go through the “pretending to get organised” motions with a bit of a clear out.

After a little binning and shredding, I made enough space to safely lock my Toblerone away. With my most important task completed, I decided to call it quits and make a well deserved cuppa. Stupid Dry January.

During the holidays, I read an article that claimed it better to use a small mug at work than a big one. The logic is that, by doing so, you will become more active around the office and get that beach body that you deserve in six weeks.

My work mug resembles a builder’s bucket. My post-Christmas belly does too. Out with the new and in with the old and all that, I dusted off my Welsh, Woman’s Own approved size, mug. It won’t be long before I’m back in my Speedos. Sorry about that.

I have a Welsh mug because I am Welsh. I was born in Wales. My parents and grandparents were born in Wales. My grand… you get the drift.

I left home for University at eighteen, and permanently at twenty-one, so have spent longer away from my place of birth than I spent there. Like Clark Kent stuck in a queue at a phone box, the reappearance of the mug made me concerned about my identity.

I’m Welsh. I think that I feel Welsh. I’ll always support us in the footy and rugby. I still regularly throw stuff at the telly whenever John Redwood appears on it. I own a Shakin’ Stevens LP. I have a semi-nostalgic yearning to maybe go back one day, but realise that our children will, in the blink of an eye, be old enough be do what I did. Pack up and go.

I don’t speak the language asides from pidgin primary school stuff. If you ever need to ask if anyone would like to build a wall, I’m your man.

I also grew up close to the English (boo!) border, therefore avoiding picking up a noticeably regional accent to which other ex-pats cling. My accent has mutated over many years in Wolverhampton. I now sound like the lovechild of Michael Owen and Noddy Holder reading The Guardian out loud.

I love Tettenhall, but I don’t particularly feel much attachment to Wolverhamptonshire. Perhaps this will be different for the kids who are already showing signs of being hit with the Yam Yam stick? The fact that my little people were born in England still chokes as we could have easily dashed over the border with better planning.

Will they grow up to be proud Wulfrunians? If they are good enough, or lucky enough, to represent their country, which one will they pick? Should I force them up the A41 towards Whitchurch (hanging a quick left onto the A495) or down it towards Hemel Hempstead?

Instilling Welshness should be easy enough to manage with some subliminal messaging and a bit of subtle suggestion.

I could acquire Max Boyce style daffodil attire off eBay for a few quid. We could eat leeks with every meal and practise our close harmony singing to the Postman Pat theme tune at breakfast. Technology could also help.

“Alexa, play Harry Secombe.”
“Shuffling tracks by Sea Sick Steve.”
“No, not Sea Sick Steve. Harry SECOMBE.”
“Sorry, it looks like I didn’t hear you correctly. Please try again.”
“Whatever.”

Perhaps a better approach may be to look at the relative plusses of my current and former homes and Caerphilly compare them.

“OK, Google…”

Goodish things about Wales
Geography – With breathtaking scenery, mountains, lakes, exquisite beaches, steam locomotives aplenty and Britain’s smallest house all before you get to Harlech, where better to call the green, green grass of home?

Dialect – Wales has its own language. It’s not unusual. They speak it in Patagonia too.

Food Culture – Often simple, always delicious. Cawl, Welsh rarebit, bara brith, laverbread, Glamorgan sausages and good old roast lamb are amongst the traditional favourites. You can probably get a Taffy Apple if you want one too. Food to Dai for.

Musical Heritage – Male voice choirs, Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones. Need I say more?

Significant Landmarks – Snowdon, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and about three castles for every child born.

Goodish things about Wolverhampton
Geography – It’s called the Black Country for a reason. Wolverhampton was named one of the UK’s most miserable cities in both 2015 and 2017, and the fifth worst city on the planet in 2015. Bostin.

These are actually huge positives for me and should help keep the riffraff away until we build the wall around Tettenhall. There’s some nice parks though, and more history around town than you would expect if you look for it.

Dialect – Wolverhampton also has its own language, all be it even less straightforward to decipher than Welsh, ay it?

Food culture – Grey peas and bacon are a local staple. With Mad O’Rourke’s World Famous Pie Factory also just down the road, this is a close call.

Musical Heritage – Well, there’s Slade, him out of the One Direction and… Babylon Zoo. Cosmic.

Significant Landmarks – You know that you’re nearly home when you see Tojo the Dwarf. A local reference for local people.

With all evidence in, my little boyo and girlo are going to have to be Welsh when they grow up, aren’t they? Tidy.

Fin.

All Wrapped Up

In which our reluctant hero wonders if he will ever learn? And why not?

Ebenezer Scrooge: You’re a little absent-minded, spirit.
Ghost of Christmas Present: No, I’m a LARGE absent-minded spirit!

(A Muppet Christmas Carol)

My belt is almost up a notch. That tired, sluggish, not quite with it feeling induced by having consumed Pringles and Celebrations as starters to every meal for a week has kicked in. The rest of the break may as well be sponsored by Rennies. Just how long is it since Christmas again?

Overindulgence amnesia asides, this Christmas has presented some new curious things to ponder. Perhaps they will provide useful knowledge for next year. Perhaps I thought the same thoughts last year. Who knows?

Packaging
The amount of packaging encasing modern stuff is spiralling out of control.

You would expect a Marks and Spencer apple to be individually wrapped in a polystyrene tray and about 250m of shrink-wrap in the olden days, but this was the exception not the rule.

I’m convinced that today’s manufacturers are challenging each other to make the most difficult product to open. And it’s mum and dad that suffer.

This year set a high bar with parents needing a minimum of two screwdrivers, pliers, a junior hacksaw, scissors, mole grips and a Black & Decker Workmate to open the average present on Christmas morning.

“This Christmas was brought to you in association with Tommy Walsh.” He must be laughing all of the way to the bank.

Surprise Batteries
Talking of being ill prepared, who knew that “C” sized batteries are still a thing? Not me.

After a brief panic, I managed to source four used ones, thus avoiding a Christmas Day incident with the Luvabella Doll.

Already tired and emotional after their previous life in a VTech toy, the batteries lasted a day, whereupon the perilous state of charge caused the doll to start talking in French.

Replacement Duracells cost a whacking £8.40 from the local Tesco Metro on Boxing Day morning. This is around £3.40 more than the price that my wife told me that most of the kids’ presents cost. Ho, ho, ho.

A.I. Is Just Creepy
Speaking of Luvabella, don’t bother getting one in the January sales if you’re of a nervous disposition. Within three hours of it appearing, I started calling it Chucky. I swear that it’s out to get me.

Food
It’s not just presents that get all wrapped up for Christmas.

Have you even eaten anything in the last week that hasn’t been wrapped in pastry, cheese or bacon. Or all of the above? I’m amazed that a box of “Heroes” has not yet been made in Wellington form.

Next Christmas, why not make a massive cheese, ham and Cadburys Fudge pastie on Xmas eve and plough through until New Year. All of the Christmas food groups in one and the same net result as every other festive meal. Am I wrong? No.

Away Days
Q: How much stuff do you need to take for a single afternoon or night away visiting family?
A: The exact amount of stuff to completely fill the boot of a Vauxhall Meriva, obviously.

Sadly, the only thing that I wish to achieve before I die remains driving somewhere and being able to see out of the back window. I fear that I may not live that long.

Today is…
Wednesday? Sunday? Nope, sorry. Not a clue.

Bins
Expanding on the above, have you any idea when bin day is? No, neither have the council.

The formula to calculate when to put your bin out over Christmas is so complex that the next volumes of work by Professors Steven Hawkins, Brian Cox and Green are all dedicated to solving it. Probably.

The excellent @mutablejoe off of Twitter got close to working it out a couple of years back;

“Reminder your festive bin collection day is given by the simple equation
d = (√x²-3π) – (∆y – √∆x) – (Gx/∆y)
where x/y are your lat / long”

Simples.

While there’s plenty of lessons learned, one mystery remains unsolved. Where do all of my Swizzles chews off the kitchen table keep disappearing to?

Fin.

Jingle All The Way

In which our reluctant hero can’t be bothered to write a proper blog post and figures that nobody will actually notice.

“IT’S CHRISTMAS!!”

Everybody has their favourite Christmas songs, and they’re all rubbish. Fact. Take this selection from the Mirror earlier this week.

  1. Fairytale of New York – The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl
  2. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
  3. White Christmas – Bing Crosby
  4. Last Christmas – Wham!
  5. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – John Lennon & Yoko Ono

Dreadful. All of them.

So, without further much ado about nothing, here’s my Christmas countdown of the best five Christmas songs of all time ever. Probably.

Don’t expect Slade in there mind. We live in Wolverhampton so it’s a given that it’s number one. Plus, it saves you actually listening to it. Again.

No 5.
The Cheeky Girls – Have a Cheeky Christmas

I read somewhere that Gabriela and Monica Cheeky were to noughties pop music what Agnetha and Anni-Frid Abba were to the seventies. Or something.

“Have a Cheeky Christmas” certainly shows a consistency of writing and performance as all of their other hit(s?)

Now you may not actually recall the song, but that is probably more to do with the other festive hit of 2003, “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” by The Darkness, taking up every available bit of air space. Think Joe Dolce’s “Shaddap You Face” vs Ultravox’s “Vienna.” It’s time to redress the balance, methinks.

I took one of them shopping once. I’ve no idea which one, but it got in the Express and Star. That’s top five for me. Enjoy.

No 4.
Paul McCartney – Pipes of Peace

Let’s face it, number five of the best five Christmas songs was a shoo-in. The tricky work starts right now. Help!

Fortunately, you can’t have a top five songs list without including a song by national treasure and top Angela Lansbury lookalike, HRH Sir Paul McCartney. It’s the law of the (Pepper)land. I’m sure that we can work it out.

It has been a remarkable career, spanning five decades, while effortlessly churning out some of the most iconic songs ever. Quite why the National Anthem hasn’t been replaced with “Hey Jude” remains one of life’s great mysteries.

OK, “Wonderful Christmastime” was awful (and don’t get me started on Mull of Kintyre) but this little gem from 1983 is the absolute bees knees. Do bees even have knees? I have no idea. I’ll bet Macca has a five-minute anecdote about them, though.

Anyway. Macca, football and Christmas, all packaged in three minutes and fifty-one seconds of loveliness. What more could you want?

No 3.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood The Divine Comedy – The Power of Love

It’s all getting a bit tense now isn’t it? Five and four were relatively straightforward choices. However, my selection for the coveted number three spot has two potential problems.

– I’ve picked a cover version.
It’s true. Frankie Says “look at the link.”

This is actually the less problematic problem of the two. Everybody knows that (nearly) all cover versions are better than the originals. The original artists are far too busy writing and recording their song than to worry about interpreting it properly after all. The only exception to this rule is Roxy Music’s version of “Jealous Guy”, despite what everybody else on the planet thinks. So there.

I’ve gone for a live version by The Divine Comedy for no other reason than they’re my favourite band. What other reason should I need?

– Is it even a Christmas song?
Ah. Let me open with the case for the defence.

“The Power of Love” was Top of the Pops in December 1984. It may even have been a Christmas number one had the “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” juggernaut not squashed it as flat as a leftover sprout pancake.

The video featured a sort of Nativity thing, the single cover was a picture of “The Assumptions of the Virgin” and, most importantly, the song reminds me of Christmas even if there’s no mention of snow, baubles or Jesus/Cliff. So I’m saying yes.

Case dismissed. Enjoy.

No 2.
Tim Minchin – White Wine In The Sun

Two. Zwei. Deux. Dos. Dau. So near yet so far. Close but no cigar. Second place in the Top 5 list that nobody asked for and nobody read. Ah, well.

For me, Tim Minchin is someone who I associate with the phrase “He was good on…” rather being that familiar with his work as a whole. Which is odd as he is such a unique talent that I can’t quite work out why not.

Wikipedia describes him as a comedian, actor, writer, musician and director. I can’t help but think that the word “songwriter” should also be segued in there somewhere.

“White Wine In The Sun” is a brilliant song. Occasionally funny, occasionally pithy, but a song with an incredibly warm heart. A song about cutting through the hypocrisy and recognising the things that are important. Which, I guess is what Christmas should be about.

No 1.
Chewbacca – Silent Night

After what has seemed like a more protracted process than the “Topsy and Tim Tie Their Shoelaces” feature length special, we’re there. Over the finish line, spraying cheap Cava over unsuspecting passers-by. The winner can be rightly pleased.

For brass players such as myself, “Silent Night” is about as bad as carols get. Too long, too slow, too low and usually involving a terrible arrangement that causes tuning problems that could strip paint.

So imagine my delight upon discovering this little belter last December. I initially assumed that it was a version of “Stille Nacht” in its native German. But then my ears perked up and I realised what was going on. After that, there was really no competition.

All you need to do is sit back and enjoy. Simples. Just remember, a Wookie is for life, and not just for Christmas.

Fin.