Friday 23 December 2022

Jingle Ball Rock

Step into Christmas, eh, Elton?

Curiously, I don't remember this uplifting song, written in the seventies, forming part of my festive season soundtrack as a child, and have only really been aware of it over the last ten years or so (which probably means fifteen), as if there was some dispute over rights, or something, but it's there all the December time now, like Alex Ferguson or Harry Redknapp suddenly talking to the BBC again. It's the one song that makes me still want to be out and about as a young person, dancing forlornly on nights out, the unfathomable hope propping up the underlying despair.    

The seasonal (Christmas, to clarify) despair is of a different kind now, far away from pubs and clubs, and less about loneliness and the paucity of Arsenal's midfield options (a distinctly troubling concern in either 1989 or 1992, I think). The only girl I'm worrying about is my daughter, innocently responsible for a large portion of the ever-evolving to-do-list that features a fierce battle for Priority No.1, while trying not to crack up on the school run or the children's bedtime. The squeezing of time and money fade away at these times, only to move back in later, but their daily occupation is almost numbing, at least. Christmas always goes well but the getting there is an impossible journey, until somehow it isn't,  

But still, Elton, is there a chance of Stepping Out of Christmas? Or at least taking a year off, like Glastonbury?

I can see why 1970's Elton embraced the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, for the same reasons as I tried to as outlined above, essentially the enduring scam of hope, except that EJ had loads of money and contacts and an awareness of his own brilliant gifts...not to say that he didn't have his own troubles of course: the mother, and, doubtless, the prejudice. Now that he has kids of his own, perhaps the magic is curtailed slightly, though it's a debatable point given children can bring Christmas joy back to you, and that he probably has a few quid for toys and cars. At least, as Elton points out, the admission’s free. 

There is the option of stepping out of Christmas, I guess, but not so much if you are a parent with a conscience or a heart. It's easy to swerve the Qatar World Cup if you have those things, but the brutality of the festive season is one that must be obeyed. Sometimes it feels like a trap, a trick to empty your pockets to the beneficiaries of consumerism, all the while being whipped with brightly smiling notifications of blissful gatherings around tables that are free of political conflict or an uncle or aunt going off on one about the ‘woke’ people ramming transgender rights down their throats.    

Zoe Ball of Radio 2 nearly made me well up on the drive back from the school run this week (the school run is now nearly always a drive, given the toil involved in getting to the place) when she asked us listeners how we were getting on, and that even though we might still be mired in the chaos, we were so nearly there. I know she’s paid well to be kind to us, but it was touching and helpful to hear anyway. 

And we will get there - if we’re lucky - to finally enjoy it, and do it better than Last Christmas.  


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