Advent Song for Christmas Eve: It’s Cliffmas!

Of course this was always going to be today’s song, since it makes me happiest of all. I’m not even quite sure why, except I suppose that Cliff really means it and it shows, and it was Christmas number one the year I turned twelve, which was the year I listened to the most music of all, so it exerts a powerful nostalgic force on me whenever I hear it. But mostly it’s just the way he hits the gong and then launches into that extraordinary dance at 2.25.  I’ve tried to emulate it, but it has a magic all of its own which can’t be replicated.

The last bit of good news for this year – from me, at least – is this story about the first commercial electrically-powered aircraft test flight in Canada. In among the doom and gloom of what we’re doing to the planet, there do seem to be people with real ideas about ways to stop it, which, at least, is a small piece of hope. And if we can’t have a small piece of hope at Christmas, when can we? Now, turn Cliff up nice and loud and let’s all dance.

Advent Song for December 20: Stay Another Day

YES I KNOW IT’S A SAD SONG but it makes me happy, because it was Christmas number one in 1994, the year I went away to university, and it reminds me of sitting in my student halls kitchen at Essex watching it on a teeny TV which you had to change channels on by turning a dial and waiting for the snow to mostly disappear (this is how the radio in my bedroom still works). The first year of university, if you are lucky enough to go, is a magical time: you are living independently but with a massive professional support network hidden just out of sight; in my day you had – unthinkably – a student grant (just); you’re only expected to attend about nine hours of lectures and seminars each week (is this still true? I have no idea) and the rest of the time is yours, to stretch your wings, join political societies, drink £1.20 pints of Foster’s at 4pm and fall in and out of love at least half a dozen times.

I address you from my sofa, where I am waiting for a man to finish fixing the dishwasher so that I can open the windows and waft away the strong smell of drains that he has created (via the dishwasher’s workings; not personally) and in some ways my life is more prosaic now than it was then, but it’s also a lot more satisfying and less turbulent, and there are children and dogs involved (not mine, but nearby, which means all the fun and none of the responsibility) and all the people who were important then are still important now, plus there are some really awesome new ones, so really 2019 is better than 1994 I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S TWENTY FIVE YEARS AGO and one excellent illustration of that fact is that for the first time this year renewable energy sources have overtaken gas as the UK’s largest power supplier, as the proportion of our energy generated by fossil fuels fell to an all-time low. Good.

Advent Song for December 12: Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die

Yes, you’re quite right; that’s an actual quote from the actual Bible (Isiah 22:13). I will be exercising my democratic right later this evening, after which I will go to bed with a Christmas ghost story and ignore everything until tomorrow. Who was it who said that happiness is a journey, not a destination? Whoever it was, they were right, and if Christmas isn’t a reminder that even when things that are at their coldest and darkest we can still eat and sing and love each other then I don’t know what is. Tomorrow might be awful (I hold out hopes that it won’t be, but having deliberately skipped most of the election coverage I don’t feel qualified to pronounce beyond that), but today there is still mulled wine and the best bad Christmas song ever, the Darkness’s Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End).

(An aside on voting: I was undecided when the election was announced, having flitted between Labour and Green over the last few years without ever having been quite satisfied with either. But the climate crisis has convinced me to vote Labour –  in my safe Labour seat – on the basis that unless we stop Brexit we won’t have enough time or money left to fight climate change in time to avoid its most catastophic effects, which means that the responsible thing to do is whatever it takes to prevent a Tory majority – which, in my case, means voting red. So that’s what I’ll be doing, even though I think my MP is pretty awful.)

To the good news! You already know this,  but I can’t not include Greta Thunberg being named Time’s Person of the Year for 2019,  which is just the most visible sign (today) of a generation of young people, women and girls especially, who care enough about things to stand up and be counted (and care about tomorrow, even when some of the rest of us are trying not to think about it). The kids, at least, are alright.