Monthly Archives: December 2017

On Repeat

My love of music is well known, see multiple previous posts, but one kind of music just bugs the crap out of me – Christmas music. It is almost exclusively garbage, full of banality, cliche and triteness. Of course, there’s no avoiding it at this time of year, but at least once you leave the store you don’t have to deal with it until you walk into the next one. Nice to have the choice. Imagine having to listen to it for eight hours straight. This  is what my life has been like since the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. There’s no avoiding it and it is driving me crazy.

For the first two weeks I was subjected to an endless stream of garbage spewed out by a never-ending stream of third-rate session singers. Do you know just how many versions of  ‘Frosty The Snowman” there are? No? about a dozen by my reckoning, and all of them, with the exception of the Cocteau Twins version are dreadful. Imagine listening to each of them about four times each every day. Add in “Jingle Bells” “Winter Wonderland”, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” “Let It Snow” and every other bloody Christmas song you can imagine and you have some idea of the kind of audio hell my life has been.

DTKIC? is by far the worst, especially as one of the singers is doing what I’m going to say is his best to sound like Bono. It’s bad enough when Bono tries to sound like Bono, but I’ve heard better Bono impressions on a Friday night in Dublin after the pubs shut. I won’t even go into the fact that Africa has more Christians than any other continent, so yeah, I guess they do fucking know it’s Christmas. Imagine if Rachid Taha, Abdel Aziz El Mubarak, Cheb Khaled,  and other great African singers got together to record a benefit song for Europeans called “Do They Know It’s Ramadan?” I can just imagine the lyrics – “Feeeeed the woooorld, but only between sunset and sunrise”.

But the worst thing of all is that so many of these so-called singers try to rework the songs by slowing them down by about 75%. Have you ever heard an eight minute version of “Jingle Bells” which sounds like the singer has been told to count backwards from ten by the anaesthesiologist. A truly terrible example is the version of “Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree” I had to endure about four times a day. Before I moved over here, I associated the tune “Tannenbaum” with “The Red Flag”, and I can tell you, the Russian Revolution took less time than it took to listen to this song. And then of course, there’s the Vince Guaraldi version from the rarely seen animated classic “It’s the peasants and workers revolution, Charlie Brown”.

Lest you think I’m some kind of Grinch, I’m not,  ( See “Fuck Christmas’ to  be proven otherwise)although the thoroughly twee and sickening version of “You’re A Mean One, Mister Grinch” which misses the point of the song entirely and turns it into a semi-comic joshing is enough to make me decamp to the top of Mount Crumpit. I own two Christmas L.P.s – “It’s A Holiday Soul Party” by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, which is just fantastic because, well… it’s Miss Sharon Jones. She does some well-known tunes, but my favourite has to be “There Ain’t No Chimneys In The Projects”. Nuff sed. The other is “Christmas Songs” by Bad Religion, in which they just storm through carols and Christmas favourites at full pace, driven along by a drummer who doesn’t pause for breath.

I only heard my all time favourite Christmas song once, and that was because it was playing on a customers’ car radio as I tied a tree onto the roof. I’m talking of course, about “A Fairytale Of New York” by The Pogues and Kirsty McColl. Of course there’s no way the store would play it, presumably because they don’t want complaints from parents who’ve just had their five year old ask “Mum, what’s a cheap, lousy faggot?” Also absent has been Siouxsie And The Banshees’ “Israel”, a classic, and well worth an airing, in my opinion. Last week wasn’t too bad  by comparison, as the Tannoy was playing original recordings, but you know that there’s no hope  for a song when even Mister Tony Bennett can’t save it.

Add to  this  the fact that we have had a Salvation Army bell-ringer camped outside for the whole time. It is a torture beyond compare. Send half a dozen of those guys to work at Guantanamo Bay and I guarantee that every inmate will confess to everything from the murder of Julius Caesar onward. It has been doing my head in, having to listen to the constant ringing, and I mean constant, except for the ringers’ breaks and lunch. I can tell you that if we had a longer cable for the electric chainsaw, the parking lot would have been filled  with T. V. camera teams. The absolute nadir was last Thursday when we were joined by some carol singers. These guys could actually sing, they sounded fantastic, but the bell ringer kept going, and the store was pumping out its usual programme, and to have all three of these competing sounds going at once was just too much to take. Every man has his breaking point,  and I reckon mine was less than a minute away when the carolers departed.

The thing is that due to tingling in my right hand brought about by loading and dragging all those trees I wake up about three or four times a night, and I can’t get back to sleep due to the discomfort and the fact that the songs from work are burned into my brain and have left a multitude of ear worms to torment me. Usually ear worms can be driven out by thinking of a song you like, but I just can’t get any songs I like to stick.

One thing of note has been that a lot of the songs have “Holidays” in the title instead of Christmas, as in “Home For The Holidays”, a song which to the best of my knowledge, along with a number of others, predates the start of Fox News’ bullshit narrative about the non-existent “War on Christmas”. FUCK YOU, SEAN HANNITY.  I’d like you to do something for me: turn towards New York and yell at the top of your lungs “FUCK YOU, SEAN HANNITY!”. Again, “FUCK YOU, SEAN HANNITY!!”. Once more “FUCK YOU, SEAN HANNITY!!!”.  There, don’t you feel better? I certainly do. I get a warm, fuzzy feeling just screaming the fucking words.

Merry/happy whatever holiday you celebrate.


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Filed under Christmas, employment, Music

A Forest.

It’s been a tumultuous few months here at the new Singledad Towers. I picked up a job at a real estate office, but was told just a couple of months in that I “wasn’t a good fit” for the job, whatever the fuck that is supposed to mean. This left me scrambling for some way to pay the rent, and for no other reason than I found it, I applied for a seasonal job at my local supermarket selling Christmas trees. I got an invitation to an interview which went well and returned home to find a voicemail on my phone. Could I come back in for a drug screening? The interviewers had called me pretty much as soon as the door closed and had hoped to catch me before I left the store, but seeing as I saw no point in bringing my phone with me, the call was waiting for me at home, so I did an about face and returned immediately.

The popular image of drug screening involves peeing into a cup, but hold on. Now it involves holding a sponge against the side of your mouth for a couple of minutes and then placing said swab in a tube. Phew! If you are anything like me, then Shankly help you. No, seriously, peeing in public is not my thing, nor yours, I hope. This happened because they offered me the job.  My sweetie and I had a Thanksgiving trip planned, and so the Tuesday after the holiday I reported for work, went through the initiation period and started the next day. To be clear, I’m the only person working trees 8/5, with other staff being assigned to the post on a daily basis, which means I’m the only constant. Yeah, the new guy is the only person who’s always there. Actually, many people at the store have worked in trees over the years, so it’s not as if no one has ever done the job before. I’m outside for eight hours a day in the PNW winter, which can be a bit nippy at times, but the donning of my patented Bronko Nagurski  long underwear meant that I was proofed against the morning and evening chills, and truth be told, I was often sweating due to the exertions involved.

We receive trees by the truckload which are dumped in the parking lot and then have to be sorted by size and species into a coherent stack. Imagine dragging 250+ trees ranging from five to nine feet tall into organised piles and then moving them over to the sales area. Then imagine helping customers by carrying their tree to the place where we give he trunk a fresh cut and then loading it onto their vehicle. A lot of people have trucks, which makes life easy, but imagine lifting a nine foot tree onto the roof of a Suburban and then tying it down. It takes a while, and involves quite a bit of effort, especially if you are a fat, lazy, unfit bastard like me. Imagine doing that 30 times a day as well as sweeping up loose needles and branches, dragging over fresh stock to fill the gaps and answering a multitude of questions.  To say that I was knackered by the end of the day is an understatement. I know how unfit I am, and this has driven it home to me. My legs and arms ache by the end of the day and only the  prospect of a very hot bath with lots of lavender Epsom Salts and a very large vodka and tonic at the end of the day have kept me going.

The above bitchfest notwithstanding, I’ve really enjoyed myself. My coworkers are all great people who have made me feel very welcome and part of the team. The store has a lot of  long term employees, and I can see why: we are treated very well, get an employee discount and are treated as human beings with feelings. How many companies nowadays do that?  The customers have all been very friendly and understanding, and I’ve had quite a few enjoyable chats with people as I’ve tied trees onto the roofs of their cars.  I admit that I wake up in the night due to the numbness in my right hand, and that I ache all over, but to be honest, being outside all day has been good for me. I’ve had the opportunity to work in a team that actually cares and meet some truly nice people.

I really hope this turns into a permanent thing. the store manager told me one lunchtime that he wants to chat with me about what happens “after trees”, which sounds promising, as does the fact that my department manager has been sounding me out about which departments in which I would like to work. Fingers crossed.

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Filed under Christmas, personal relationships