Saturday, 25 December 2010

The Idiotic Christmas Address

[Drum roll; dingy opening chords of National Anthem; sound effect of screeching gramophone needle]

No, please, sit down, sit down! Sorry about that. Yet another scratch on the National Anthem disk. One day, someone is going to play that thing at the proper speed, and realise that's it's actually a bit of a thrash.

Record playing speeds are a thing of the past, of course. I remember an amusing letter to the editor of the Guardian early in 1978, which went something like this: "I was born in '45, and am now 33 in '78. Is this a record?" Well, OK, you had to be there. It used to be a way of passing a wet afternoon, playing Elvis Presley 78s at 45 rpm. It was also not a bad way of learning the guitar riffs, of course.

By the same token, you have to wonder why that screeching noise is still universally understood as "a recording halted prematurely, perhaps terminally". I wonder how many people under 50 have ever heard that sound in real life? In fact, I wonder how many people over 50 have ever heard it in real life? I'm not sure that I have. Maybe it doesn't really sound like that at all -- perhaps it's just a sound effect that everyone uses, because it sounds like a record getting good and scratched ought to sound.

I can feel a metaphor building here, something about real life and the way its representations and shortcuts increasingly lose touch with reality over time. "Three sheets to the wind" would be an appropriate example, right now, I suspect. But, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, it's Christmas Day, it's after lunch and I've got a literal goose to cook -- I'll let it go.

I hope it's been a good year for you, your families, and your friends. Above all, I hope you've found some fulfilment through photography, writing or some other expressive activity (cooking, or even some clever swearing counts, but shopping definitely doesn't).

May I wish you the very best of everything in the coming year. I have some rather fine bottles of single malt whisky nearby (proper Scottish whisky, that is --The Macallan Fine Oak, Laphroaig and a Jura) and will be toasting you all later this evening for your comments and encouragement over the past year:

Slàinte mhòr!

(Gaelic for "Great health" or, allegedly for Jacobites, "health to Marion" i.e. the king over the water. Pronounced: slanj-uh vorr)


Dave Leeke said...

I have also been bought a few bottles of same - so I'll join you in raising a toast of Jura (seeing as my daughter at Southampton bought it for me).


And likewise, a Merry Christmas to all our readers.

So, it's a goodnight from him . . .

Mike C. said...

Slàinte agad-sa! (health back atcha!)

If it's the Waitrose Jura, it's very good indeed (and such a nice bottle!). Can't wait to get properly started. Too hot in the kitchen with that goose...


Toad said...

Across the pond, we are tucked in with a nice bottle of Redbreast Irish spirits. peace to you and yours

Mike C. said...

Cheers, Toad! (Hmm, whiskey brand noted for future reference).

Any further commenters will have to take my best wishes for granted, at least until tomorrow, as I now have some serious eating and drinking to do. Despite the way it sometimes seems, I am not actually physically attached to this PC.

Why does a goose always take an hour longer than it should? (Rhetorical question, and not a riddle; answers not required).

Best wishes to everyone,


Poetry24 said...

Belated greetings, Mike. Hope the goose lived up to expectations.

Found a Kindle in my stocking. Little time to investigate, with three small grandchildren full of the Christmas 'buzz'. Maybe, later today. Cheers!

Kent Wiley said...

Thanks, Mike. I do like the first pic: I was looking at it the wrong way round, and when the mind finally flipped it over the right way, I got that delicious feeling of disorientation.

Our evening was occupied with a viewing of the amusing and confounding Exit Through the Gift Shop by and about Banksy. Definitely recommended.

Mike C. said...


Funny you should mention Banksy, as he got a mention on Christmas morning. My sister-in-law (if you can have such a thing if you're unmarried -- sister-in-common-law?) lives in Bristol, and many Xmases ago gave me a couple of tiny little publications by this local artist Banksy ("Existencilism" and "Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall"). They're now quite rare and sought after.

Always glad to provide that delicious feeling of disorientation! Completely legal and no hangover, either!


Kent Wiley said...

Nice, having a couple of early Banksys. I've only been vaguely aware of him, but this movie has definitely put him firmly on the map. And I'm sure that all of his work is completely out of range for the likes of us now.