the state of things
Christmas Song Apocalypse
by Douglas Lindsay - 10:46 on 23 December 2013
If, at around 4pm yesterday afternoon, you felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in pain, it was likely to have been as a result of The Guitarist In The Band and me murdering a series of Christmas pop classics at a festive, Sunday lunch.
The hostess enquired in a pre-event conversation if I wouldn't mind gathering everyone round the piano for some Christmas carol singing. Thinking that this might involve some time practicing carols in order to avoid humiliation and disaster, I decided it'd be easier to print some chords of a few well-known modern standards off the internet, then I could get away with strumming the guitar and no practice.
The No Practice part of that came to bite us on the arse.
Lunch was served, idle chatter was had, and then as the sun began to fall into a cold, winter sky, the crowd settled in for the musical entertainment, having paid an unexpected £15 each a ticket to meet our demands of unlimited Champagne, a helicopter ride home and bowls of Smarties with the blue ones removed.
One of the problems came with my own lack of guitar ability. Sure, I can strum a guitar a bit, and I laugh confidently in the face of chords such as G and Em, C and D, F and Am. Throw in a Cm or an Eb however, a B or C#m, and I'm hopeless. Suddenly I'm to be found staring at the fret board, trying to convert from piano notes and will likely have found an approximate variation of the guitar chord some minutes after the song is over, and I'll be left looking around with melancholic eyes saying things like, Can't we do this in G?
We opened with Do They Know It's Christmas. Started badly on the back of those opening lines, which really need to be sung with Boy George-esque passion, else there is an inevitable tendency to warbling, but everything picked up when we got to But say a prayer… and for a few brief moments it looked like we might be blessed by Angels and things were going to be fine. Then, out of nowhere, we suddenly came upon alien words, words that did not belong in the song, and we crashed suddenly to a halt with a What the fuck, man? There were jeers. The audience were baffled. Someone threw rotting cabbage, and a series of leftover Christmas desserts at us, but largely their aim was drunken and what hit us was little more than a trifle. Only later did I realise that I'd printed off the words to that lesser known classic Band Aid 20, where they'd obviously changed things up a bit by not just replacing People You've Heard Of, with a collection of Who The Fuck Are They celebrities who'd cried on cue at looking at pictures of starving children, but they'd changed the middle eight.
The tone was set. We played on, murdering in turn the Pogues, Slade, Wizzard, Wham!, Mariah Carey and many, many more. (And before anyone gets too excited, we didn't actually murder Mariah Carey.) The crowd slowly drifted off. At one point I looked up to discover that the only people left were the WAGS and someone's drunk uncle who'd passed away during a particularly poor rendition of Shakin' Stevens.
In a final attempt at Yuletide competence I retreated to the piano for a quick stab at Blue Christmas, but by this point I had the Witch-Kings of The Undead on my shoulder, and even then I struggled to play the three chords of that Elvis classic in the right order. With a few bluesy notes thrown in on the final chord as an attempt to cover up the appalling debauchery and pillaging of the art form that had just taken place, I turned to face the audience to take a final bow. The room was empty. Everyone had gone home.
And then, from nowhere, an iron bar came flying sweetly through the air and struck me just behind the left ear. There was blood, the emergency services were called.
Later there were reports in the village that Mariah Carey was seen driving swiftly away in an Aston Martin, cackling wildly.
Course, I'm about to stop for another few days...
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