Friday, December 23, 2005

Twas the night before Christmas

China seems to have got one thing right about the run-up to Christmas, that we in the West have very wrong, and that is the timing of the appearance of Christmas decorations in the shops. Unlike British decoration that seems to appear two weeks after it was put away, the baubles, lights and fake plastic santas don't make a show until about a week and a half before Christmas. However, when they do appear they make up for their absence by sheer number and gaudiness.

The piped christmas music is especially bad. Those of you who have been to China and heard the choice melodies that are thrown at our ears through supermarket speakers may have an idea of what it's like. The general selection is either western carols being murdered, with or without Chinese lyrics and with lots of lalala-ing in the gaps where words won't fit, or a few christmas songs being hammered out on someone's child's Casio keyboard while experimenting with all the novel voices. Sitting in Yoshinoya's the other day (a Japanese fast food chain), we endured a particularly excruciating version of "Joy to the World" on keyboard being blasted through the shop speakers. Recorded by someone with little regard for musical timing, and who seemed to think that the "whistle" voice was just the thing for the tune, it was really, err, unique.

Well I'm off to do some last minute Christmas shopping for a few essentials (wine, wrapping paper etc. etc.). I wish you all a very merry Christmas, free from canned music!


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