In My Mind I’m Going to Colorado

In the run-up to Christmas this year, I was thinking about a tune that evokes Christmas for me personally but which has nothing to do with Christmas at all for anybody else…

… as you do.

The main one that I came up with is this:

If We Hold on Together by Diana Ross

It’s not a highbrow example by any means.  In fact it's a rather twee, lightweight, tune which not that many people may even know.  So why does it invariably say ‘Christmas’ to me?  When I thought a little about that, the memories that came flooding back were warm indeed.

Twenty years ago this year, Trish and I spent a month in Boulder Colorado and that month ran from mid December to Mid January. 

I’ve had enough Christmases at this stage to be able to spot the memorable ones and it is fair to say that this was one of the very best.

We stayed with Trish’s Brother and his family and, for me anyway, it was like Christmas on another planet.  The weather – feet and feet of snow, the geography – a vast open plain leading to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and, in the opposite direction, the smoggy spires of the Mile High city of Denver.

The skiing was wonderful too, mind.  We skied Breckenridge and Vail, Winter Park and Loveland and it was magnificent and unforgettable.

Everything went to make that year remarkable but mostly, I think, it is remembered because it was a Christmas purely with friends rather than family.  John and Marian are family, of course, but even more-so they are friends and the type of people I would long to be friends-with even if they weren’t family, if you follow me.  Yes, that was the greatest thing about that year.  Trish and I were together and autonomous and we were amongst friends.

And the song?

It was from little Lisa’s favourite film – The Land Before Time  - and she played it on the video over and over again.  The song tied itself up inexorably with that Christmas.

But not, oddly enough, straight away…

… it must have been ten years later.  I’d just got holidays from work the day before and I was listlessly scanning the television channels trying to find the meaning of Christmas or, at least, a good cartoon.  And there was that film, just finishing, the credits rolling and that song playing.

And it all came back to me in a rush.  The times we had, the memories we burned into our minds.

And, ever since, that song has held as a memento of a great, great, moment in our lives.

Happy Christmas, eh?

The Busiest Day

It’s the busiest day in the graveyard.
A day of gifts and snow
All the people full from feasting
swing on by to say hello.

They remember all their loved ones
so deep beneath the earth
with holly wreaths and icy breath
this day of saviour's birth.

I watch them from my corner
and nod as they pass by.
They read the headstone that I touch
and ask it who am I.

“What was that girl to him?” they ask.,
“what truth did they once know?”
The cold boy and his long dead girl
So deep beneath the snow.

We nod again as they walk back
to warm within their home
those hands that briefly touched a pain
that’s easier left alone.

I’ll see them here next year again
Upon that next Noel
and if they come another day
I’ll see them then as well.

© Ken Armstrong 2011

Beyond Disappointed

Though my friends never ask
if I’m over you yet.
The question is there
just the same.
I can see it sitting
in back of their eyes.
A fear that dares not speak its name.

I stand there and ask
the same thing of myself.
Am I finally free of your spell?
Have I now wriggled out
of the web that you wove
Round my head and my poor heart as well?

I’m over the panic,
the horror, the pain
I’m over the hurting part too.
And now there’s one final hill I’ve successfully climbed.
I’m beyond disappointed with you

You can say what you like
You can see who you want
Those things cannot hurt me no more.
I’m over the aching
That you left behind.
All the sadness that dogged me before

So next time they ask me
that thing with their eyes
I’ll say it out loud cos it’s true.
I’m over the worst
of the damage you caused
And beyond disappointed with you.

(c) Ken Armstrong 2012

X Factor Etc

Every Saturday evening, my Twitter feed explodes with comments about the main Saturday evening television fare.  It kicks off with ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ then moves rapidly (and most vociferously) into ‘The X Factor’ and, these evenings, it finishes off with ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’.

There are loads of people pouring disdain on the shows, there are very few people proclaiming their love for them but there is a vast majority of people who are ‘consuming’ them – watching them – and being entertained by them.

My own relationship with each of these shows is quite fractured.  I often watch bits and pieces of them.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a complete episode of any of them.  Still, though, I know them fairly well.  I would guess my relationship is the same as many many other people who tune in.

Photo: Susanne Stoop (All Rights Reserved)
Reading back over things I have written about X Factor in the past, here and here for example, I can see that I have a sort of love/hate thing going with it… except that I don’t love it at all.  In previous posts, I have been angered and disappointed with the way ‘X-Factor’, in particular, has played its game. 

Today, I feel the need to stick up for it a little bit.

My defence of such programming is pretty basic.  It’s this:

I think we need something to mark our weekends.

Times are tough, there isn’t a lot of ‘going out’ and ‘living it up’ for a lot of people these days.  Also the working week can be a grind – a tougher grind that it was in previous years - and for much less reward too.

Programmes like Strictly and X Factor look a little different to weeknight programmes.  They are lit differently and they sound a little different too.  When they come on, we can subconsciously say to ourselves “Hey, it’s the weekend, relax a bit.”  And, even if we don’t watch them, or even if we just throw a casual eye over them or, oddly enough, even if we absolutely hate them, they still can remind us that it’s the weekend.

We used to get this from heading out to the cinema, or the pub, meeting friends, having a bite to eat.  But, for many of us, the world has closed in a little bit, hasn’t it?  We still go out, live it up, but not as often.  We are older, we have kids and responsibilities - and budgets - and so we sit in.

If television looked on Saturday night as it did on Wednesday night then the week might seem longer, more continuous, interminable.  There are satellite channels like that, where even on Christmas Day, you'll get the same stuff you see every other day.  Is there anything more depressing than a medium which refuses to mark the days with us?

At least, when that blasted music comes on, we know it’s time to bung in a frozen pizza and crack a beer.

It’s the weekend

The telly just told me so.