- You’ll find this funny (I hope)
- My weird Christmas message to you
- Why no news can be GOOD news (for your health)
Hilarity this week at my youngest daughter’s nativity play…
I was there for the 5pm show, sat frowning, a little away from the everyone else, as usual.
All the parents were in the audience, sat on chairs with their iphones ready.
(What is this obsession with filming EVERYTHING your child does?)
Anyway, the kids were beginning to fill into the school hall towards the stage.
Some clever teacher had decided that there should be Christmas music on before the big performance. So they’d got it blaring from big speakers.
I worked out that it must be a Spotify themed playlist, because there was an advert every 4 or 5 songs.
It was the usual mix of Christmas hits…
We’d had a bit of Slade, a bit of Shakin’ Stevens, a bit of Mariah Carey….
Suddenly, from the loudspeakers, Shane McGowan bellowed, “It was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank!”
I couldn’t believe it.
Really? They’d put A Fairy Tale of New York on the playlist?
It was strange. Nobody in the audience seemed to notice. Everyone carried on gossiping and the tiny children kept filing in, wearing donkey ears, shepherd costumes and angel wings.
Perhaps it was ok…
Times had changed…
Maybe it was fine now to have a song at an event for 5-7 year olds about an abusive street romance, sung by two Irish drunks in New York.
For a moment I drifted into a reverie…
I remember buying the Pogues album on which this track appeared when I was 14 years old. It was strange – and highly unsettling – to hear it in a cold school hall full of parents and young children, decorated in badly cut-out stars and a backdrop that looked like it had been made by a 5 year old (because it most probably had).
By this point, Shane McGowan had well and truly entered the building.
In the song, it reach the point where he and Kirsty McColl started hurling abuse at each other.
“You’re a bum, you’re a punk.”
“You’re an old slut on junk. Lying there almost dead. On a drip in that bed…”
At this point I saw one of the teachers scurrying from the back of the hall, panic on her face.
“You scumbag, you maggot. You cheap lousy…” sang Kirsty McColl.
“Happy Christmas, your ars-“
Off went the music.
The teacher was panting, bowed over the laptop, pale and trying not to look around in case anyone was glaring at her.
There was only me, laughing.
I was already thinking – “I’m definitely going to put that in a newsletter!”
Which brings me neatly (not at all neatly, actually) to my Christmas message.
And my message is this…
Find joy in chaos!
Okay, so it’s a strange message.
Find joy in chaos?
What on earth I am I talking about?
Well, I don’t know about you, but this has been quite a year – seismic political events, economic uncertainty, lots of famous people dying, and the usual personal issues we all have to deal with. For me, my father breaking his hip was particularly affecting, as was news from one of my best friends that he’d just had a biopsy on a suspicious growth, never mind the friends I know with a very ill baby.
It can get quite grim out there. The world is increasingly chaotic and unpredictable.
But it can also FEEL worse than it really is…
We’re exposed to such a high volume of news and information, every day of every week, it can be hard to see the good in society and maintain a positive outlook. For many of us plugged into smartphones and tablets (myself included) a worrying newsfeed of doom, death and disaster follows us wherever we go.
This kind of stress and negativity is bad for our health.
Back in 2011, some research at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, found that negative feelings can damage your metabolism, immune system and organ function.
Professor Carsten Wrosch said: “Persistent bitterness may result in global feelings of anger and hostility that, when strong enough, could affect a person’s physical health.”
I’m not recommending you necessarily unplug.
After all, you might end up missing my People’s Doctor newsletter and that would be terrible!
However, you can start to give up trying to change things that are out of your control. Instead, focus on what you can do to change your life.
Try a new therapy… change your diet… enjoy some exercise… read a good long work of fiction…. Watch an emotional film… make a new friend…
All of these have been shown to improve wellbeing and health.
I’ve written about them all on the People’s Doctor website, which you should check out this Christmas if you’re feeling under the weather or gloomy: www.peoplesdoctor.co.uk
So anyway, here it is, Merry Christmas, as Noddy Holder says.
No matter what your religion, or political persuasion, age or family status…. no matter what your health issues are….I hope you can find something to make you smile, to make you find purpose and hope this Christmas and into 2017.
On behalf of all the team, have a good one!
All the best