Christmas Cake, Brandy and Freaking “Festive” Music.

christmas-cake-1-of-3Those who know me know I am not a great fan of the ‘season’. I react badly to being told what to do. I detest enforced jollity. I can’t stand the festive messaging that is driven to fever pitch with recycled TV programmes, regurgitated as nostalgia, while the ‘civilised’ world prepares itself for the outrageous excess that is Christmas. Though, there are a few things I do enjoy during the weeks of ‘traditional’ build up to overcooked turkey and drunken arguing with the relatives.

One of the rare positive interludes on this downward spiral is the time in late September or early October when the Wife begins preparation of the Christmas Cake. I’m not going to post a recipe here. It’s too late. If you haven’t got it prepared and maturing for the past couple of months, there’s no point in starting now. If you do decide to cook one now, you’ll find yourself eating Christmas cake right in the middle of the February guilt and depression, brought on by your festive profligacy and overindulgence.

I’m not a total Christmas grinch. For my part, I will prepare something delicious for the small band that will gather at our house on Christmas Day. When the presents and memories have been swapped, I will cut a slice or three of the cake, pour a generous glass of brandy and relax, listening to anything EXCEPT Christmas Music.

Side note on Christmas Music: One of the most abhorrent aspects of Christmas is (most of) the fever inducing  outpourings to which we are subjected annually. By my reckoning, some of the the all-time worst and most vomit inducing Christmas songs are:

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard

When I was a young ‘un, Roy Wood amazed us with his remarkable, unique brand of rock and roll. I even owned his seminal “Introducing Eddie and the Falcons”, released in 1974. He had snuck out this dirge in 1973 and over the ensuing years, has turned a great fan into a Wizzard hater.

Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms

Bobby Freaking Who? He crawled out of some 1950’s gramophone with this puke maker and has been damaging eustachian tubes ever since.

Slade – Merry Christmas Everybody

Slayed would have delivered a better outcome. The bit where Noddy Holder squawks “IT’S CHRISTMASSSSSSSSSSSSS” makes me shudder and wish for mid January.

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale Of New York

Not withstanding the fact that Shane McGowan and I share a chiropractor, I can not abide this drunken schmaltz. Having it played dozens of times a day on every radio station in christendom makes it wear very thin for me.

Wham – Last Christmas You Gave Me My Heart

Heartburn more like. Could somebody somewhere please write something new. Just because you do something over and over again every year does not make it a tradition.


Lovely cake and brandy. Enough to make you drive home for Christmas

Not every festive tune makes me want to lobotomise myself. Pass me my cake. Pass me my brandy. Turn the radio off. I might just listen to Chris Rea with his Driving Home For Christmas. I am a fan. I saw him play live in the National Stadium (a cramped, smelly, boxing arena on Dublin’s South Circular Road) about 25 years ago. It is one of the few evocative, gentle, festive tunes and is not as overplayed as some of the tripe above.

Happy Christmas!

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  • PERFECT!!!!! From cake to musings on the holiday season…. Vomit inducing songs, oh, I gotta remember this statement!

    I have a wonderful fruit cake in my blog, one associated with great memories from my beloved husband… Hope you can check it out.

  • Ironically, Conor, one of my favourite things about Christmas is hearing what self-professed Grinches dislike about it. Score! The happiest possible of Christmases to you and your cake genius lady wife, and looking forward to great things in 2017…

      • And a very happy Christmas to you and yours too, Conor. That’s from me and Mark. The other two are too busy plotting the downfall of civilisation to bother with civilities at this hour.

  • I hope you’ll be putting out an offering like that for Father Christmas.
    IMHO the biggest problem with those songs is having to listen to them for 40 years. I bought the Slade and Wizzard singles when they came out in the 70s and for the last 35 years have been sick of them. Things might have been better if someone had written some decent new songs on an annual basis. Bah humbug 😉

      • Ha ha – I’m with you there. Imagine being 50 something and listening to that music day in day out for two month each year. I’d definitely need therapy!
        Merry Christmas 🙂

  • Cake is one of my highlights too and I feel I have perfected my gluten free version with just the right (excessive, some would say) amount of all sorts of dried fruit. Oh, and mince pies made with proper puff pastry (now sadly off my menu…). You can keep the rest. Down Under it’s a rather different menu, bearing in mind it’s one of our hottest times of the year. And as for the dreadful music! Utterly cringeworthy. I do like a nice carol concert, and enjoy a sing along, but they don’t seem to play those much in either the shops or on the radio. Never mind, I’ll be able to warble along happily at Midnight Mass….

  • You listen to really bad Christmas music. No wonder you’re a scrooge. Stick with Bing Crosby!

  • You’re sounding a bit Scroogie Conor. I usually am this way to, but this year is different for me. I think my Grinch heart may have grown a bit…

  • Ah Conor I was having a good chuckle until I got to the bit about Wham – we’ll have a falling out! I hope despite everything you and your family mange to enjoy Christmas, even just a little bit 🙂

  • Merry Christmas, Conor! You’ve got your priorities straight with cake and family. (Although I heartily agree with Mimi – stick with Bing Crosby and Sinatra!)

  • Nice bokeh Conor! I think I’ll go listen to Mannheim Steamroller Christmas music now. Merry Christmas!

  • Since with absolute joy I admit to being a ‘total Christmas Grinch’ I just had to visit and say that for once I agree with you word by word and line by line! Also greatly agree that I don’t like anyone to tell me exactly when to feel ‘happy and bright’ [manage very nicely myself!], eat ‘traditional’ food or listen to endless carols supposedly about a great Jewish nationalist and teacher who was not even born on Saturnalia, which some 350 years later Emperor Constantine decided to turn into JC’s birthday! And, no, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra don’t make an iota of difference . . . . with huge smiles, hope you and your family have a happy festive season and a healthy New Year!!

      • Conor dearHeart – my warmest to you and I fully agree about most, but methinks I speak of ‘logic’ and ‘learning’ and I personally abide by those. I am definitely not ‘alternate’ but just perhaps a tad more in the current flow than many others 🙂 ! May the Higher Powers [and I use that word advisedly] be with us all and, certainly, may the coming Yuletide be wondrous for those partaking [and I use that word in the same manner – it IS the pagan word for the one I do not want to script 🙂 !]

  • I do understand what you are saying, but having arrived back in the UK (from China) a mere three days ago I find myself welcoming all the shmaltzy stuff!
    Mind you we are in a small east coast fishing village in Scotland and there is not a whole lot of it about.
    This year we were going to be a select family group of four and I took great delight planning some fab food. Then a desperate call from my sibling saying their plans had fallen through and could she, her husband and adult daughter join us. I was delighted – but after putting the phone down remembered that said adult daughter is VEGAN!!!!!! aaargh!!!!!! Finally decided I would stick with the food plans I had already made and she would have to plough her own furrow so to speak. Vegetarian is one thing, but vegan is a nightmare. Have got sunflower oil spread for her instead of butter, and located/purchased an individual gluten free/animal product free small Xmas pud for her, made some fab vegan soups etc – after that she’s on her own.
    Thank you for your informative/entertaining blog. I wish you a very Happy Christmas and may 2017 be a much better year all round: internationally, nationally, politically, financially, personally!

  • Not all fruit cakes are the same. Point taken if you are not a fan. I would happily pay for a good Jamaican fruit cake (they minced their fruits). At least you got your priorities right ie good food.

    A Merry Christmas to you and your family.

      • I am a generous soul. I like to share the calories and watch others pile on the pounds/kilos😜

  • Let me be frank here, Conor, one of my greatest blogging pleasures for me are reading articles like yours AND the various comments by some of our mutual friends from around the globe :). Sometimes this is far better than reading a novel! The next confession I make is that I love love love all what is connected to the (worldly) FEAST OF CHRISTMAS. The decorations, the planning and shopping for special gifts for people I care about, the food, the wine! 🙂 but like you and some of our friends above I do so HATE those dreadful pieces of “music” which we hear months! before Christmas. Even the beloved Bing, Frank, Dean etc. etc. can only be taken in in relative small doses. And when it comes to my home country, Germany, here of course, unashamedly, I am a complete soppy traditionalist! And proud of it, too 🙂 Confession No 3 – if we could be in Germany right now, you could find us in nearly every concert hall, church, opera house etc. in BERLIN – oh no, getting goosebumps just writing about it. But for now, this moment, I am listening to friend Eha’s favourites Gregorian Chants and later, once again, I will play and enjoy “The Nutcracker”.
    In the 14+ years I am now here, this is the first Christmas I have not put up our tree – sad, yes, but……Doctor’s orders. But JS by ‘tradition’ is putting up our big nativity scene in the dining room. And guess what – I am already planning and making notes for Christmas 2017!!!
    What else I had to say can be found on my latest blog page.

    I wish you and your wife a wonderful CHRISTMAS, may it be peaceful and above all – safe!

  • Thanks Connor. I have a chest infection, it’s that time of the year. Please do drink and eat on my behalf but do note the caveat. One in the mouth, years in the hips😜

    • oh CK, you and me – the same! Let Conor eat and drink for both of us 🙂 🙂 I wish you a Merry Christmas and hopefully you will be better soon.

  • Anyone for curry and other things:

    I am not sure what happen to my comment. Hope you are on the mend and can enjoy some of the sinful treats/edibles.

    I am on the mend but my belly has shrunk. Sigh! I have to go for intensive training if I were to visit the Far East for a food tour. A pair of pants with elasticated waist as a temporary solution😳 or perhaps an effective eating plan of little and often😘

    A Merry Christmas to you.

  • I love Christmas cake especially with a slice of Wensleydale or Cheshire cheese 😋 Highlight of Christmas

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