Christmas Links #1

Don’t F with me at Christmas:
"The song is the Pogues’ Fairytale of New York. Of course it is. But there’s a problem – actually, there are several but, in typical style, only one’s causing an issue at the moment. It’s a word. An F-word. No, not that one. You know the one. It comes at 2 minutes and 22 seconds into the song and is sung, with gusto, by the much-missed Kirsty MacColl. The word is “faggot”."

Here are the 10 most annoying Christmas songs of all time:
"Why do pop artists have to get involved with Christmas?"

Christmas Number 1 2018: The contenders revealed:
"Who's in line to claim the coveted Christmas Number 1 in 2018? We reveal all..."

From waiting lists to unboxing: the bizarre world of beauty Advent calendars:
"Forget chocolate – this year brands including Nars, Glossybox and Mac are counting down to Christmas with cosmetics. But are they really worth the (often hefty) pricetag?"

Smithfield’s Christmas Eve meat auction returns for 2018:
"Good news for meat lovers and lovers of a meaty bargain as the exceptionally good fun Christmas Eve auction will return to Smithfield this year."

Can I Find Someone Who Loves Christmas More Than Me? A Festive Investigation:
"Meet Jack Monroe, 'Mr Christmas' and Advent Alexa."

18 Tragic Christmas Designs That Deserve To Be Loudly Booed:
"Who approved of these?!"

The Lantern Sleeper.

Life If you've been trying to travel up Lime Street in Liverpool by foot or vehicle the past few years, you will have found it pretty difficult thanks to the demolition of the various old buildings on the station side of the street between the two large pubs including The Futurist cinema.

In their place a different edifice has been raised, a colourfully lit office, retail and residential opportunity called The Lantern which includes a new Premier Inn, walking distance from the other Premier Inn on Hanover Street but more convenient for Lime Street Station.

Last night I slept there, wanting to get away for a night but not wanting to get away too far much as I did in Manchester in September.  So armed with some literature, my toothbrush and a change of clothes, I walked there yesterday lunch time and booked in at 2pm.

As you can imagine, the "Have you come far?" conversation at the check-in desk went off the rails fairly quickly because frankly how do you explain that you simply want to go somewhere with a comfy bed and some peace and quiet so you can read a book and just give your anxious mind a rest?

I did not get much piece and quiet and initially my anxious mind did not rest.  Not long after being in the room, I noticed a constant wooshing sound.  I assumed it was the air conditioner on the blink so I visited the desk and asked if that was the case.

They said yes and that they'd turn it to "auto".  Ten minutes later and the noise was still there, thrumming away in the background.  Another visit to the desk and they said they'd turn it off.  Nope still there.  Another visit downstairs to be told that it definitely had been turned off.

For a further half an hour the noise was still there, loudly niggling away at me.  By this point I wondering if I'm being unreasonable, but I remember how silent the previous Lenny Henry endorsed rooms I'd slept in had been so decided to not let it go.  Elsa.

Another visit downstairs led to different staff member visiting the actual room and I showed him the grill the noise was coming from.  Lifting it to one side, we saw the big black box it was coming from.  We both stopped and listen.  He said he'd investigate.

He investigated, discovering that these grills are in every room and that the box we can see is the air conditioning system shifting the air through the building.  It's an access point and there is no way to turn it off.  I bothered to record the noise to you can experience it yourself:

I considered just going home, asking for a refund and said so.  He explained that I'd have to put a complaint with head office in to get a refund but that if I decided to stay he'd make sure I received a complimentary breakfast.  I stayed and eventually managed to tune the noise out for the most part.

How does this happen?  Who designs a hotel in which the aircon system is this audibly intrusive notably when there is advertising throughout the room indicating that their key selling point is a comfortable, unobtrusive night's sleep?

But no, this hummed away right through the night, while I was initially trying to get to sleep and then around six hours later when I got up to go to the loo.  I'd like to blame it for my usual dream about nakedly running around a fictional town looking for my clothes, but that's just my anxiety.

Which isn't to say the visit was awful.  It wasn't.  This was the view from my window:

Which is not something I thought would ever happen, being able to see the goings on in Lime Street from above, albeit on a Monday night when not much is happening anyway.  Seeing familiar landmarks from unusual angles is always exciting.  See also the view from my breakfast booth:

For the uninitiated, that's Lime Street Station.

Plus I did manage to read a whole book, the Black Archive edition about the TV Movie with the Pertwee logo which does indeed manage to find something new to say, despite the Gary Russell paperback, the complete history and the various shiny disc releases.

And I had a bath for the first time in about ten years even if it was too small for me to fit my whole body in and ended up bobbing backwards and forwards.  Showers are fine, but this was luxurious and the most relaxing moment of the visit.

The Witchfinders.

TV Sigh. Much as I enjoyed The Witchfinders, I can't quite summon up the imagination tonight to offer an opinion over eight paragraphs, so if you don't mind, I'll leave this for now and go and take care of myself. Think of me as Jacqueline Hill during the fourth and fifth episodes of The Sensorites. Perhaps I'll come back to it.  Just so that you haven't wasted a click, here's an excellent primer from BBC History about James I's obsession:
"James’s obsession with witchcraft can be traced back to his childhood. The violent death of his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, seems to have inspired a dark fascination with magic. His Highness told me her death was visible in Scotland before it did really happen,” related Sir John Harington many years later, being, as he said, “spoken of in secret by those whose power of sight presented to them a bloody head dancing in the air”."
A lecture about witchcraft in general from Professor Wrightson at Yale University:

And a fascinatingly anonymous three column website about the Pendle Witches:
"During the sixteenth century whole districts in some parts of Lancashire seemed contaminated with the presence of witches; men and beasts were supposed to languish under their charm, and the delusion which preyed alike on the learned and the vulgar did not allow any family to suppose that they were beyond the reach of the witch's power."
See you next week.