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Xmas Treacle

Some Things About Christmas I Could Definitely Do Without

Some Things About Christmas I Could Definitely Do Without

The following is from Patrick Smith’s excellent blog entitled Ask the Pilot. I don’t do this sort of thing very often, but I find myself in such substantial agreement with Patrick that I couldn’t have expressed it better myself:

I don’t much like Christmas, if you must know. The phoniness and thunderous commercialism of it all. Plus, I never get any presents. Typically I work over the holiday. Last year it was Paris. The year before that it was Ghana. This year I’ll be in Scotland. But while I can run, I can’t really hide. Nobody, not even a sourpuss likes me, escapes this grotesque juggernaut of make-believe goodwill and endless consumption. In some ways, maybe, this is for the better. Certainly an author and website curator….

Do not, ever, make the mistake that I once made and attempt to enjoy Christmas at a small hotel in Ghana called the Hans Cottage “Botel,” located on a lagoon just outside the city of Cape Coast. They love their Christmas music at the Hans Botel, and the compound is rigged end-to-end with speakers that blare it around the clock.

Although you can count among those people able to tolerate Christmas music — in moderation, in context, and so long as it isn’t Sufjan Stevens — there is one blood-curdling exception. That exception is the song, “Little Drummer Boy,” which is without argument the most cruelly awful piece of music ever written. [Italics mine] It was that way before Joan Jett or David Bowie got hold of it.

It’s a traumatic enough song in any rendition. And at the Hans Cottage Botel they have chosen to make it the only — only! — song on their Christmastime tape loop. Over and over it plays, ceaselessly, day and night. It’s there are breakfast, it’s there again at dinner, and at every moment between. I’m not sure who the artist is, but it’s an especially treacly version with lots of high notes to set one’s skull ringing.

“Ba-ruppa-pum-pum;ruppa-pum-pum…” as I hear it today and forever, that stammering chorus is like the thump-thump of chopper blades in the wounded mind of a Vietnam vet who Can’t Forget What He Saw. There I am, pinned down at the Botel bar, jittery and covered in sweat, my nails clattering against a bottle of Star lager while the infernal Drummer Boy warbles into the buggy air.

“Barkeep!” I grab Kwame by the wrist. “For the love of god, man, can’t somebody make it stop?”

Kwame just smiles. “So lovely, yes.”