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The Flying Pigs: Sir Elton’s taken another step into Christmas with Ed Sheeran in tow

Sir Elton John and Ed Sheeran have collaborated on an inventively named new festive single, Merry Christmas
Sir Elton John and Ed Sheeran have collaborated on an inventively named new festive single, Merry Christmas

The latest topical insights from Aberdeen musical sketch comedy team, The Flying Pigs.

J Fergus Lamont, arts critic

The Christmas “classics” that we hear so often around this time of year, such as those by Clifford Richards or Slade, have become so hackneyed as to be unlistenable. So, I am delighted to report that complexity and creativity are still very much alive in the Yuletide music scene.

The Flying Pigs

Indeed, not since the days of prog-pop collective The St Winifred’s School Choir and their seminal There’s No-One Quite Like Grandma have I been so moved by a piece of popular music as I was by the creatively titled Merry Christmas.

You will not have heard of the artists responsible, for they have received little or no publicity, but the duo of Edward Sheeran and Elton John must surely take their place in the pantheon of festive collaboration, alongside Bing Crosby and David Bowie, The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, or the matchless Mel Smith and Kim Wilde.

The video installation which accompanies the song is striking – in a wood-panelled room, evocative of both the weight of history and mankind’s overuse of natural resources, the gnome-like Sheeran sings whilst highlighting the climate crisis by courageously sitting beside an open fire in a highly flammable green tracksuit.

Meanwhile, his no less goblinesque colleague, John, plays a red piano whilst wearing sunglasses; either a commentary on our wilful blindness to the evils of consumerism, or to hide a nasty case of conjunctivitis.

The song itself sears with insight. The couplet: “I know there’s been pain this year but it’s time to let it go, next year you never know” provides the philosophical fulcrum; the authors placing their faith in the quantum nature of an uncertain future. Then, in a resonant metaphor for the importance of recycling, exactly the same lyrics are used in the second verse. Breathtaking.

And, yet, as soon as it ended, I realised I had absolutely no recollection of the tune and so found myself asking my digital assistant, Alexandria, to play Merry Christmas again. Whereupon, what should emanate from my speaker, but Slade?

I wept.

Jonathan M Lewis, local headteacher

As another somewhat draining term draws to a close, I find myself in a reverie of reminiscence. Whilst the language, culture and fashions of our Young Learners are ever-changing, this week has seen the return of a long-forgotten bit of playground vernacular which has lightened my mood no end.

Allow me to take you back to the early 1990s, when I myself was in my mid-teens – no, I’m not joking, despite my youthful appearance, I AM that old! Hooded tops were all the rage, as were jeans, deliberately ripped at the knee. With the launch of the Game Boy, the playground was awash with youths staring blankly at a handheld device. So very different from what we see today!

What brought the playground to rambunctious life was the colourful, idiomatic language we used

But what brought the playground to rambunctious life was the colourful, idiomatic language we used. Much of it, of course, now rightly considered to be the stuff of hate crimes, but not all. Phrases like “itchy chin”, for example, used by a doubtful audience to convey incredulity at Barry Bell’s claim to have “sooked the face aff” Jennifer Gauld, given her well known view that he might have “the jandies”.

So, imagine my delight when I overheard two members of the PE department engaging in some lighthearted japery, evoking memories of my formative years. Mrs Davidson had playfully thumped Mr Burns on his recently vaccinated upper arm, drawing the response: “Ayah, ma booster!”

That took me back.

Davinia Smythe-Barrett, ordinary mum

This Covid situation is getting to be too much, isn’t it? Yet again, my family’s long-cherished holiday plans hang in the balance because of selfish people who won’t take the simplest of precautions to protect us all.

We’ve got five nights booked in a chateau in the Loire Valley, with its own vineyard and spa. It doesn’t get much more compelling that that, does it?

It’s barely three weeks since we only just made it back from our long weekend in Johannesburg, and now our absolute right to take a much needed Christmas mini-break is being jeopardised, this time by the French.

What a relief it was, then, to hear that the the criteria for entry into France from the UK at the moment is that one must have a “compelling reason” to travel. Well, we’ve got five nights booked in a chateau in the Loire Valley, with its own vineyard and spa. It doesn’t get much more compelling that that, does it?

Trips to France are off the table once more (Photo: sippakorn/Shutterstock)

So, we’ll be marching up to the passport desk at Tours St Symphorien Aéroport and not taking “non” for an answer. Obviously our au pair, Snežana, will go first (she’s Bulgarian, but she’s marvellous). After all, she has the most experience with tricky border crossings.

It’s a shame she can’t go home to her own family this Christmas, but, of course, we absolutely had to have her with us on the trip, as she’s the only one strong enough to carry the Waitrose Christmas hamper. I love locally sourced French produce, absolutely I do. But the bread’s the wrong shape and the cheese smells funny.

Joyeux Noël, tout le monde!


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