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Ian O'Doherty: Taking offence at Fairytale of New York is just the latest example of 'wokeness' going totally crackers

Divided opinion: Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan singing The Pogues’ Christmas classic Fairytale of New York
Divided opinion: Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan singing The Pogues’ Christmas classic Fairytale of New York

By Ian O'Doherty

We're heading into that time of the year when we root out the old decorations from the attic, scour through our contact list to see who needs a Christmas card and we generally look forward to enjoying some old traditions.

But there are newer traditions which we can all enjoy, and I was quite delighted to see a story on Tuesday about the newest tradition of them all: freaking out about Christmas songs.

Frankly, I was worried we were going to get through December without some halfwit trying to assert their moral superiority over everyone else, which would have made me sad.

That's because having a row about Fairytale of New York has now become a cherished staple in pubs and offices around the land as people bicker over whether the greatest Christmas song of all time is a work of maudlin genius, or an excuse to beat up gay people.

The Republic was first out of the traps last year, when DJ Eoghan McDermott wagged his finger and informed us: "Enough vitriol out there without gay people having to feel uncomfortable so people who aren't affected by an insult can tap their toe."

That was like a seasonal epistle from the Book of Woke. Yet, rather than congratulating McDermott for his remarkable sensitivity and compassion, everyone just laughed and filed him in the box marked 'eejit'.

Even better, several gay lads I knock around with were pretty furious that a straight man had tried to speak on behalf of an entire community. One of them even came up with a new term, 'offence appropriation', which describes someone who decides to get the hump on behalf of other people, even though those other people have no problem.

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But step aside McDermott, there's a new sheriff in Silly Town. Allow me to introduce you to BBC DJ Alex Dyke, who has truly raised the bar when it comes to mad objections and extreme umbrage. In fact, I think we may need to start referring to the 'Dyke Standard' when it comes to complaints about things the rest of us love. The disc jockey had a proper, full-on rant about The Pogues' classic and it was truly glorious, managing to combine smugness, hysteria and snobbery in one perfectly gift-wrapped package of crankiness.

According to Dyke: "I am no longer comfortable with playing Fairytale of New York. I just think that this guy, this toothless drunk, ruining the romantic image of New York city with a song about heroin is not on.

"I don't like the lyrics - I find (them) offensive. I find that (the song) an offensive piece of downmarket bilge."

Of course, nobody would ever associate New York with heroin. Unless, that is, you'd ever listened to The Velvet Underground.

Or the New York Dolls. Or any of the countless NYC bands who sang about drugs.

But, leaving such minor quibbles aside, I was actually surprised that the DJ didn't pull a Helen Lovejoy from The Simpsons and start mewling, "Will someone think of the children?".

Oh, wait. He did. Of course he did.

In fact, he harrumphed that, "Christmas songs should be about excited children, toys, Christmas trees, snowy streets, ski lodges, reindeer, wrapping paper, Santa, family, peace on Earth and love".

Dyke obviously enjoys better Yuletides than most of us, what with his "excited children" and "peace on Earth and love".

After all, most of us just try to get through the day without throttling the ungrateful brats and spiking our relations' drink with strong hooch to get them to shut up so we can watch the Bond film after dinner.

But why stop there, Dyke?

Reindeer are obviously used as mere pack animals, expected to carry a fat geezer around the whole world in one night. Has he never heard of animal welfare?

And what about Santa himself? Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan. But are we really happy to allow our children to go to the local supermarket and sit on a stranger's knee while forcing them to promise that they have been nice and not naughty?

Belfast Telegraph


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