Silly season is almost upon us once again, and as usual I'm quite happy to not be a part of it. For me, the annual commercial festival of greed and gluttony is something that happens to other people, and since opting out of it and not having it shoved down my throat at every opportunity by the TV, I'm able to trundle through this period with no additional stress whatsoever.
It goes without saying that it's not completely unavoidable because whenever you set foot in a supermarket from late September onwards you're confronted with yet another world record attempt at building the tallest tower of Quality Street mankind has ever seen, and every pub and restaurant is desperately trying to tempt you to book your Christmas dinner for roughly the same amount that would feed an African family for a year.
It also happens to be pretty much the only time when my whole family gets together, and because I like these family occasions with their comfortable informality and the chance to see those who I don't really see as often as I'd like, I'm prepared to dilute my principles on the whole Christmas thing to join in. This year will be a little different as it's going to be in a small local social-club type place that's normally used by old folk, rather than in someones house where things can get a little cramped. This does mean having to tolerate decor that went out of style around the end of WWII and worrying stains on the furniture, but at least the younger kids will be able to enjoy the thrills of being catapulted out of those chairs with the flip-up seats and playing endless games of 'What's That Smell?'.
In an unusual and slightly irrational moment I volunteered to sort out the music; some appropriate tunes to provide a backdrop of sound that might at least provide material for discussion during lulls in conversation, played at a volume that doesn't need to be competed with by having to shout but at the same time doesn't fade into an indistinguishable murmur that nobody notices.
Instructions from Father were basically "No Depeche Mode, no Fields Of The Nephilim and make sure you include some Christmas music".
Well really. Did he really think that I'd include Fields Of The Nephilim when however much I like them, I'm perfectly aware that it's totally inappropriate for a family do? But I see no reason to not include Depeche Mode's 'Enjoy The Silence' whatever he says, and as for Christmas music, well let's face it, it's all shite really. The only exceptions I'd make to this would be a selection of compositions by Bob Rivers like 'Chipmunks roasting on an open fire' or 'Walking round in women's underwear'. I'd love to be daring enough to slip in Kevin Bloody Wilson's legendary 'Hey Santa Claus', but I suspect the young kid's parents would be none too thrilled and the olds would be spitting their pre-mashed mince pies across the floor if I did so, so perhaps not.....
This leaves me with about four hours to fill, which shouldn't be a problem. After asking around for people's favourite tracks and combining most of those with a varied selection from my own collection I've already exceeded five hours without even trying. It's harder than expected, though, to pick tracks that will be acceptable to most and will be inoffensive to those who aren't really into them, particularly as the age range of those attending is likely to be between two and eighty. Finding things that tread the middle-ground between Bob The Builder and Glen Miller while avoiding the pitfalls of Eminem isn't as easy as it sounds, especially when you keep wanting to chuck in a few favourites to shake things up like The Prodigy's 'Smack my bitch up'.
So for now it looks like an easy going blend of 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's with a few surprises thrown in, totalling more hours than are available for the event and set on random, so that if the old bloke complains about the lack of Christmas music I can just pretend it's the computer's fault for not picking them out.
Next time I think we should have our family get-together in the summertime, and then I'll definitely be able to avoid any suggestions of Jim Reeves, Bing Crosby, Vera Lynn, and bloody Tijuana Christmas. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!