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Christmas Tunes Can Drive You Crackers


Laura McHarrie was a shop manager, when retailing … took place in bricks and mortar.  There was none of this easy peasy, drop box, ‘clicks and sorta’ kinda stuff; that we have nowadays!  Tonight, she reminds us that Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year, for many people. It’s a time where stress levels can go through the roof; not least for those that serve you in shops and hospitality.  With her speech entitled Christmas Tunes can Drive you Crackers please welcome Laura McHarrie …

Christmas Tunes can Drive you Crackers

We all have them don’t we – a favourite Christmas song that takes us back to a magical memory of festive times gone by?  I bet you are thinking of yours right now … yep you are … aren’t you? 

We also have those Christmas Ear-worms that drive us crackers, for you it maybe “It’s Christmas,” perhaps … it’s Band Aid’s “Do they Believe it’s Christmas” or maybe … it’s Wham’s “Last Christmas”?

Mr Toastmaster, Mr President, Fellow Toastmasters

Victoria Williamson, who conducts research on the psychology of music at Goldsmiths says that listening to Christmas tunes too much could have a psychological impact known as the ‘mere exposure effect’.

She said: “There’s an inverted U-shaped relationship between the amount of times we hear music that we like and our subsequent reaction to it.”

Put simply, it means that when we first hear our favourite Christmas song we like it, a bit more and then a bit more.  However it hits a peak, a tipping point, then boredom and annoyance kick in.

Whilst the first few rounds of Christmas tunes on the radio make us go ahhh ….  as the DJs employ more “jingle bell rock” the closer the big 25 gets, the tunes rapidly turn into Aghhhh!

Right now, for me, it’s The Rum Te Tum Tum of the little drummer boy that is being played every advert break for Sky Sports this Christmas.  Not only is this driving me nuts, it is ruining a fond memory of my favourite Christmas song ever. 

In 1977, just before he died, Bing Crosbie dueted with musical superstar David Bowie.  Bowie joined Crosbie on his Prime Time Special, suitably entitled  ‘A Merrie Old Christmas’.

That year, I rushed home from my Saturday job in the bakers shop and sat glued to ITV to view the old crooner and my hero.  In awe, I watched how Bowie harmonised “Peace on Earth” with Crosbie singing “The Little Drummer Boy”.  Bowie disliked the Little Drummer Boy so the counterpoint was written in a matter of hours to accommodate his discord. Half a million sales later … who cares?

For the next 22 years all I wanted for Christmas was …. some peace on earth or at least some peace and and … “oh so quiet. Shhh shhh”!

Bearing in mind I joined the retail trade when Christmas shopping meant dressing up in your warmest clothes, taking the bus into town, joining winding queues and eventually returning laden with bags of goodies.  Like everyone else, in the 1980s “I Believed in Father Christmas”.

For me, and those in hospitality, it meant that Christmas started in November.  The Christmas stock arrived in store late October and post bonfire night the decor went up.  Whilst we awaited the marauding Christmas crowds we quietly, wrote our cards, “Christmas Wrapping” our pre purchased gifts and placed them “Underneath The Tree” already festooned at home … Mid November we “Stepped into Christmas” the CDs went on in store and … we the retailers began to tune out!

It is the only way we could desist the EarWorm Eeek of “Merry Christmas I don’t want to fight tonight”, plus the obligatory tubular and “Sleigh Bells Jingling”. 

By 3pm on Christmas eve, it was well and truly over for us retailers. The decorations were down, the last minute shoppers gone, the doors were closed and … the Red and White January Sale was … On!  There was still one more sleep for every one else; for us retailers, YAY!  Happy Christmas, the commercial “War was Over! 

I have never understood why Wizard would  “Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day … I really don’t!  I’ve been out of retail for 18 years and I still just want peace and quiet.  But what about you fellow Toastmasters?   What is the tune that makes it a “Wonderful Christmas Time” or a blue, “Blue Christmas” for you?

The purpose of this project:

For the member to practice using vocal variety to enhance a speech.


  • ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)’ – The Ramones
  • ‘One More Sleep’ – Leona Lewis
  • ‘I Believe in Father Christmas’ – Greg Lake
  • ‘Wonderful Christmas Time’ – Diana Ross
  • ‘Underneath the Tree’ – Kelly Clarkson
  • ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ – Slade
  • ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ – Bobby Helms
  • ‘Sleigh Ride’ – Johnny Mathis
  • ‘Blue Christmas’ – Elvis Presley
  • ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ – Chris Rea
  • ‘Step Into Christmas’ – Elton John
  • ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ – John Lennon & Yoko Ono
  • ‘Christmas Wrapping’ – The Waitresses
  • ‘Last Christmas’ – Wham
  • ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ – Bjork
  • ‘I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday’ – Wizard

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