Thursday, 22 December 2011
Please, no more Jingle Bells!
There is a store on the west end of Edinburgh’s Princes Street near the Caledonian Hotel which sells Scottish-themed products, the sort of tartan tat that’s most likely made in China. I’ve never been in – I can’t stand this sort of thing – but I could not help but notice it on the two occasions when I walked past – it blares out pipe and drum music, horrible stuff really loud. It was bad enough for me, passing in moments; it must be intolerable for the staff, who have to listen to this ghastly racket all day long.
I have music in mind, or rather muzak, the sort of background noise that Wikipedia defines as elevator music, sounds on a cycle, an endless loop. In discussion recently I mentioned that one of the horrors of Christmas is that supermarkets (I have my local Tesco in mind) insist on pumping out seasonal noise, jolly tunes on the loop, tunes coming round time and time and time again.
I don’t know what they are attempting to do in this, put people in the mood, perhaps, for spending and happy times in Tesco. Well, it’s not working, at least so far as I’m concerned; I work on a different psychology. It makes me shop as quickly as I can, get what I need and get out before my ears are hammered by Frosty the Snowman yet one more time! It’s the people who work there I feel most sorry for, people who have no choice but to be beguiled by Frosty or Rudolf for as long as they are on shift. To my mind this constitutes the very acme of cruel and unusual punishment!
I had an experience of this once myself. I was in Havana over the Christmas and New Year period a few years ago, staying in the Hotel Parque Central, right in the heart of the city. The usual Christmas horrors were played from the bar by the roof-top swimming pool. I’m not much for sun-bathing (frying like a fry bores me!), which is just as well, as I would have gone quietly mad with that as a constant background. Swimming or lunching to this accompaniment was bad enough!
I finally cracked on 2 January. “Look”, I said to the barman in my broken Spanish, “Christmas is over. Can we please, please have some Cuban music, some salsa, anything but Jingle Bells?” And that was that, a sigh of universal relief.
I’m not Scrooge; I do enjoy some Christmas-themed music, just not the mass market stuff. What’s my favourite Christmas song, you may wonder? Why, it’s a fairy tale, a strangely poignant one. I do hope you all have the kind of holiday you most wish for yourself. :-)