Can’t Make It All Alone

“It was Christmas Eve babe

In the drunk tank

An old man said to me, won’t see another one

And then he sang a song

The Rare Old Mountain Dew

I turned my face away

And dreamed about you” (Fairytale of New York, The Pogues)

“Is anyone going to help me peel this bottomless bag of spuds?  Christmas dinner is complicated, you know.  I can’t make it all alone.”  I left the room, humming.  Too many cooks, I decided.  I also decided, there and then, to jump-start my New Year’s resolutions.  Top of this list: to do less of what is expected of me. So what was I humming?  ‘Fairytale of New York’, what else?  On this night of turning your face away.  It’s a happy/sad song, if ever there was one. Happy, if you’re younger than 30, when, arms linked with bands of unbreakable friends, you raucously roar out the lines about kissing on corners, dancing all night, and dreams coming true. But, I reckon, for anyone over 30 it’s a sad, sad song.  You’ve reached an age where you’ve learned the futility of pinning your hopes on backing the right horse at eighteen to one (whether literal or metaphorical) and you’re more realistic about what next year holds.  So maybe it’s not the song I should be humming tonight, on Christmas Eve. Maybe I should ask Shane and Kirsty to step aside in favour of Bing being merry and bright, or Andy Williams reminding me that this really is the most wonderful time of the year.  No doubt it’s that lethal combination of age and generations of melancholic Irish blood coursing through me that draws me away from the sleigh bells, but the old saccharine tunes just won’t cut it for me tonight, yet a touch of Irish-American nostalgia will; and, after all, McGowan’s lyrics are nothing short of poetry.

The thing is, though, ‘Fairytale’ paints an unfinished picture; it’s bleak only if we believe it to be bleak, as it does end with the hope of the bells ringing out for Christmas Day.  And they will ring out tomorrow, when, I hope, it will be a happy day for all. Shane McGowan is right when he sings that we ‘can’t make it all alone’, whether it’s tomorrow’s dinner or something a whole lot bigger.  To all those who have made sure that I don’t make it all alone (MC, CBG, TL, JP, YC, AM, MM, PSG, EM, KH, CS, KB, PB, MA, RD, SD, CD, SH, SB, LW, VB, KM, JN…and way more besides), I wish you all a Happy Christmas, and that you may all see another one, and another one, and another one……

“I could have been someone

Well so could anyone

You took my dreams from me

When I first found you

I kept them with me babe

I put them with my own

Can’t make it all alone

I’ve built my dreams around you.”

2 thoughts on “Can’t Make It All Alone

  1. ……and no man is an island. Thank you for the gift of words and self you generously share….and I wish you well with changing the narrative around expectations. May today and every day hold treasured moments…happiness this Christmas and throughout the brand new year to come xx CS

    Liked by 2 people

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