Christmas is all about using as many props as you can to conjure up something: a state of being where you’re cosy in this beautiful, comfortable, hibernation-style state. We go back to our burrows in the festive season so you want to surround yourself with things that are going to trigger as many memories of Christmas past as possible.
You always imbue things with a more wistful spirit as you look back on them. Every Christmas throughout childhood I would always look back and think it doesn’t feel very Christmassy this year, then the next year you look back and think, ‘Damn! That was a brilliant Christmas!’ Like all things it’s prose in the present and poetry in the past.
In my day if you wanted music you had to remember what the song was and had to be lucky enough to hear it on the radio or go and buy it
It’s funny how we cling to things that weren’t even part of our Christmases but part of an imagined amalgamation of every Christmas that has ever been. We’ll watch festive stories from years ago, films that were released when our parents were little and yet they’re in this bundle of Christmas triggers. Music too is a key part of shoehorning ourselves back into that little place that we love.
From the age of about seven I was in a choir. At that age it’s all really good fun. When you went off to sing at a carol service it would always be followed by a massive tea – there would be sausages and jelly.
No other time of year has music written for it like Christmas. The Bing Crosby flavours are every bit as important as the slightly spookier, ancient cold starkness of Christmas. There’s a lovely yeasty, Medieval strain in carols. Lovely old English carols you come across like The Holly and the Ivy borrow from the ancient Pagan mid-winter festival and then splice it together with the Christian to yield an interesting vibe of Christmas.
But I think every kind of Christmas music is valid and I very much include the kitsch in that as well. Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You has every Christmas element you could want in there. The Wombles’ We Wish you a Wombling Merry Christmas is another absolutely cracking song.