Carol overdrive

2006-12-22 08:11
Colleen Figg

Since mid-October the major chain stores have been refining their Christmas Carols selection, in order to inflict the maximum amount of torture on their shoppers with the minimum amount of effort.

I'm sure they've got people putting in huge amounts of overtime to achieve this particular balance and that these dedicated staffers spread themselves around the empty aisles in order to gauge the music volume that will get up everybody's collective noses in exactly the right way.

I'm no dedicated shopper, let me tell you, but I can already rattle off the major singers (using the term loosely) of this year's carols selection. Just the other day, whilst in the dog food section, I was quite put off my train of thought about which variety of nosh the hounds might like this month.

My usual calm mental state, a glassy, smooth lake, was rendered choppy and storm-tossed by the caterwauling of dear old Michael Bolton - I thought they'd done away with the chap years ago!

He was screeching on about something to do with Joy to The World, in tones that implied the opposite of any variety of Joy I have ever experienced. The actual carol is rather delightful really, but the way he mauled it was perfectly ghastly.

This brings me back to my theory. Once one is exposed to this sort of howling rendition of previously well-loved Christmas Carols, one's brain goes into a sort of horrified overdrive. In this state, the main, indeed the only, aim is to get the hell out of the place.

Run for the hills

Cost becomes secondary as you find yourself grabbing and tossing anything that seems relatively suitable into your trolley. The mad dash to the till is taken in the same mental state as I imagine kamikaze pilots employed - a sort of last ditch brave stand and frantic wish for cotton wool with which to plug your ears.

The hounds landed up with the most expensive dog food available, and for some reason parakeet seed found its way into my purchases, along with some Scottish Kippers, which I do not eat.

I blame Mariah Carey for the Kippers. She was yowling and mangling the lovely Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, previously my favourite carol of all. I don't know what possesses these people to become excessively experimental with these ancient tunes; I do know that the result is appalling. I can only envisage the Herald Angels clustered together groaning in agony, angelic hands over delicate ears to drown out the equivalent of a ten-strong catfight.

It's bad enough that one must endure one's well-loved childhood memories being rent in twain by these "artists"; what's worse is that, owing to the volume levels maintained, there is no way to avoid this exposure. One can hear every last note, one can feel every last tormented screech. How the people manning the tills cope is quite beyond me.

I would have taken an axe to the mains long ago!

Send your comments to Colleen.

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