And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

Beef Of The Week #383: The UK v Cliffmas

By | Published on Friday 1 December 2017

Cliff Richard

It’s the first of December today, so it is officially the first day of the year that I will allow you to feel festive. Anything you’ve felt before now has been unacceptable. However, as of today, you are permitted to feel an absolute maximum of 20% seasonal.

To be honest though, I don’t expect you to actually hit 20%. That figure’s just to give you a margin of error, in case of a sudden – but brief – surge of merriness. Really, at this stage, I’d expect a fairly low level of peace and goodwill. More like 4.7%.

Think of it like this: You’re going somewhere that’s a 90 minute drive away. Then 40 minutes in, you suddenly worry that you’ve left the oven on. You’re too far into the journey to go back and check, so you just trust your instinct that – although you don’t actually remember turning any ovens off – you must have. But even though you’re now pretty sure you did, in fact, turn it off, the lack of any clear memory of doing so still leaves a slight nagging doubt anxiously tugging at your thoughts for the rest of the drive.

Like that. Only Christmassy.

Anyway, talk of Christmas and the joy it brings to all of us – most of all me, clearly – leads me to start thinking about Christmas music.

People love Christmas music, but they only want to hear it for a few weeks of every year. Not because it’s actually terrible. Just because in three weeks’ time we will have heard twelve months worth of it. And anyway, if it was Christmas every day, like Roy Wood wants, there would be nothing special about it. So shut up, Roy.

The undisputed king of Christmas music – and Christmas generally – is Cliff Richard. Cliff, of course, had the Christmas number one in the UK charts every year between 1937 and 1998. Though, of course, his most famous Christmas song remains ‘Mistletoe And Wine’.

Christmas time


Mistletoe and wine


You know it.

For British people, it’s not just a Christmas song, it’s the Christmas national anthem. And that’s official. It’s written into the constitution. Or it would be, if we had a written constitution. If we ever remember to get round to writing a constitution, I’d say there is little doubt that the first clause of said constitution would confirm ‘Mistletoe And Wine’ as the Christmas national anthem of this here United Kingdom of things.

Or so I thought. Until this morning Metro published a piece of research it found lying around somewhere that claimed that not only was ‘Fairytale Of New York’ by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl actually the UK’s favourite Christmas song, but ‘Mistletoe And Wine’ is all the way down at number thirteen.

How can this be, people of Britain? What has become of you? Has the Brexit shambles made us such a divided nation that Chris Rea’s ‘Driving Home For Christmas’ can appear in a Christmas songs poll four positions higher than ‘Mistletoe And Wine’? That song is no good, people. No good at all. It’s just a cheery rewrite of ‘Road To Hell’.

Sure, you might say, ‘Road To Hell’ came out three years after ‘Driving Home For Christmas’, but I say to you: why do you have such an encyclopaedic knowledge of Chris Rea’s back catalogue? Huh? What are you, his biographer? Did you do a GSCE in Chris Rea Studies? Will you ever shut up about your hero Chris Rea?

No, ‘Mistletoe And Wine’ is and always will be the Christmas song to end all Christmas songs. It will, I am sure we can all agree, still be swimming around all our hearts long after both fairytales and New York have long been forgotten. Even though, like most Christmas songs these days, I can only really remember the Cassetteboy version.