I’ve already been awake for more than six hours and I no more know what to do with myself now than I did in the dark hours before 5.00am when I knew that I wan’t going to get to go back to sleep. It’s Xmas but it’s not yet Xmas and I’m restless over the fact that I have nothing really to do except wait out the last couple of days.

The cold I’ve been suffering the last week has taken its toll, mainly on spirit and purpose. It’s denied me the concentration to do things in more than small bashes, especially writing, for which I’ve had ample opportunity. I’ve blown out gallons of mucus, coughed incessantly, sniffled and snuffled and when I have absolutely had to do something, the least amount of effort has exhausted me.

But, weirdly, there was this moment on Thursday evening when, as if with the throwing of an actual switch, my head came back on and I was suddenly clear and lucid. I was still dead on my feet, going back into work yesterday, and not at my most active.

It didn’t turn out to be a Retro Xmas after all. It’s Ed bloody Sheeran at no 1, with Wham! at 3, Mariah Carey at 4 and the Pogues and Kirsty at 7, with none of the others moving more than one position or two. We talked about Xmas songs at work yesterday, and about the nest eggs they’ve been. I remember that first year, 1973, Slade and Wizzard and Elton, when the idea of pop groups doing Xmas songs caught on with a vengeance. Before that, it was bloody novelty songs, like ‘Grandad’ and ‘Ernie’ and ‘Two Little Boys’, which used to set my teeth on edge when I was fourteen, let alone now.

But that was forty-four years ago. Forty-four years I’ve been listening to ‘I wish it could be Xmas Every Day’, and Lord knows I loved it and it’s massive fun but if I never hear it, or Slade, again I won’t feel deprived, because I’ve just heard them too many times now.

I’ve got to go out, before long, to complete the Xmas shopping. That’s carrots, brussells, an apple pie and a tin of Quality Street, plus whatever other chocolate I decide. I’ve worked it out in my head and on e-mail too many times. I’ve got everything else, I am prepared, I am efficient, I shall get the turkey out of the freezer tonight, but I am still desperately worried that I have forgotten something that I won’t remember until I’m in the middle of cooking on Monday. I must have forgotten something. Only what?

On Xmas Eve I’ve one more final day of working and I really don’t want to contemplate that, finishing at 9.00pm, technically, when the buses stop running at 6.00pm, and the way home is all uphill. In the meantime, there’s time that only can be killed, slowly, painfully, one second at a time, because it’s all about waiting until the Day, when all those things bought can be removed from their packaging, their suspension, my suspension.

Two more packages have been delivered today. I have no idea what they are, I have lost track, I have been assembling that pile all month. I need to ensure I don’t run out of electricity in the meter whilst it can’t be topped up. I can’t concentrate, I don’t know what to do, I’m restless.


Xmas Starts Early 2

I work in a Call Centre. Unless the calls are flying thick and fast, we usually have televisions on in the background, with the sound off. This isn’t too much of a problem when it’s something like sport, where you can follow the pictures, but less successful on something like, say, Xmas videos.

Each year, we sit here for days on end watching MTV on the overhead screens as they plough through various Xmas oriented programmes, despite the futility of watching music with the sound off.

It’s the kind of programmes we get that gets me. Firstly, Has-Been Celebrity No 1 picks their Twenty Favourite Xmas Videos. These include such luminaries as Mariah Carey, The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, The Darkness, Slade, Wham!, Wizzard, Mel and Kim, Band Aid and the rest of the usual suspects.

This is then followed by Has-Been Celebrity No 2 picking their Twenty Favourite Xmas Videos, seventeen of which are the same as those chosen by Has-Been Celebrity No 1 but in a slightly different order.

After which Has-Been Celebrity No 3 picks their Twenty Favourite Xmas Videos, eighteen of which you’ve already seen during the prevuious two programmes, and you still haven’t heard a single one of them. In the case of fifty per cent of these videos, this is a bonus, especially if the choice has fallen on any John Lewis Xmas Ad Famous-Song-Done-Hypersensitively-At-A-Tempo-That-Would-Bore-A-Snail.

It’s not even December until next Monday. All a bit previous, what?