Monday 7 December 2009


No point in having a blog if you can’t go off topic every so often and do a little bit of advertising for a friend. So the lovely and beautiful Petula Clark, pictured recently after a performance in Canada, and looking about half as old as she should be, has her first ever Christmas album out in the USA. It’s a mixture of traditional Christmas songs, carols and new stuff, some of which she wrote herself.

I’m not much of a Christmas person. I’ve seen how the commercialisation of the festival has changed it from being a warm, bright and cheery time in the middle of the winter, when families and friends got together, exchanged gifts and spent a day together, into a mad frenzy of money spending, gluttony and drunkenness. We now all know far more about how disastrous it will be for the “High Street”, if we don’t all dig deep, or rather put it all on our credit cards, and fill up their tills, than we do about why we are celebrating in the first place. And, although I’m not a Christian, I think that’s a bit sad. I can’t imagine any other religion that would allow itself to be so hijacked.

Working in some of the poorer parts of the city here, I’ve often seen people in real misery, having not yet paid off last Christmas’s excesses, and still taking on more debt to ensure that their kids aren’t left out... and at the same time, I’ve listened to colleagues boast about how much money they have spent on their children, the lucky ones whose parents have a job. So, you’ll not find me raving much about the joys of Christmas. I’ve seen too many of the miseries.

But, back to our Pet. I’ve been a fan ever since I was a little lad, and I think I have every single thing that she has ever recorded in a multitude of languages and formats from 78 rpm records to laser discs.

The album is of course just plain magic, what else would you expect? My favourite tracks are a soulful version of “Silent Night” as sung at the Icelandic Frost Roses Gala a couple of years ago in Reykjavík. A beautiful recording of “Il est ne, le devin enfant”, a fabulous new song written by Petula “Butterfly in the Snow” and an amazing “Away in a Manger”, where she first sings the version that is sung here in the Europe, then the one that is sung in the States, then joins them together, hands across the sea.... and finally both French and English versions of the “Little Drummer Boy”

Well, of course if it’s not your cup of tea then you won’t want it, but if you are looking for some Christmas music, you could do a lot worse than "This is Christmas". Unfortunately it is not released in Scotland, so it has to be bought online. You can find it on .... where you'll hear a bit of “Butterfly in the Snow” as a wee bonus.

.....and no, she’s not paying me for this. I wish!...:¬)


  1. What a lovely tribute to Pet Clark tris. Haven't heard her in quite a while but I was one of her fans way back in xxxx.

    Thanks for reminding me of my youth. :)

    Hey so impressed with the new design. Absolutely super. Reading against a white background is so much easier for us more mature beings.

  2. Oh pleasure Subrosa. Petula is one of my favourite people in the world. Not just because she's great singer who certainly would have been charting in your youth, but has kept up to date with her musical styles over the years and whose recent successes include rap.... would you believe?

    She genuinely is a very, very nice woman on a one to one basis. A chat with Clarky, after a show in the bar is just so interesting. She belongs in a different world of course, a world on international jet setting, first class flights and Hollywood high life, know, tonight she talking to you, but tomorrow night she may be in New York having dinner with Paul McCartney.... but in a conversation with her, you'd never know it.

    Of course, that was only half of the post. Every year at this time my heart breaks for the people who desperately want to be able to give, but can't. Be it because they are old, or ill, or unemployed or paid the minimum rate, they just can’t join in. The idea that this frenzy of greed has anything at all to do with Christ is beyond my comprehension.

    Thanks for the nice comments on the layout. We thought it was time for a spring clean, even if it's not spring....

  3. Is she the one who recorded a great version of "Fever" or was it Peggy Lee - I always get the two mixed up?

  4. Brownlie: That was Peggy Lee.

    Pet was, or rather is, a bit more "rock 'n' roll" than that. Funnily Peggy Lee is Petula's favourite singer of all time, and once in 1970 she got to sing with her. The effect was awesome. Two fantastic voices together even more than the sum of their not insubstantial parts.


  5. That was a sweet post tris, pure bella. I love and deeply respect yer wee thing wi Petula Clark. She is a great singer and too often overlooked. It's good to know she's still recording, even if I cannae think of anything worse than a Christmas album, so I'll swerve on that.

    Very with you too on the whole Christmas'R'us thingy. Stack em high and sell us all cheap, and we can count the extra distress every year in the gundies and on the hospital rolls. And on what counts as a bank-balance these days. And see the forced 'enjoy yersel!' and thae antler-cum-deely boppers, dinnae get me gaun.

    A grand wee post, thank ye dearie.

  6. Hi Sophia... where have you been hiding?

    Yep, it's true love with Petula LOL. Actually, I love her musicality, her adaptability, and her lovely warm personality too. Of course since she stopped playing in Sunset Blvde, she’s kinda half been in retirement, so it’s not that she’s overlooked, it’s just she doesn’t really care for the bright lights; she’s been in them for 70 years! Geneva and Megeve are nice places to be though. I wish I could join her....

    I'm the same about Christmas... don't get me started!

    Anyway, lovely to see you again. I was a bit worried about you!

  7. ... ha ha ha... well, you know best

  8. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksDecember 09, 2009 8:28 am

    Tris....Savonarola himself could not have been more eloquent in a condemnation of our Christmas customs and practices. And I agree in principle.

    Truth is though, my memories of Christmas past have a lot more to do with presents and expensively decorated Christmas trees, than with anything involving a Christian holiday. Actually, I'd probably hate a truly Christian Christmas. But I do love the times with family and friends that you described so eloquently.

    Anyway, my contrarian comments aside, thanks so much for telling us about Pet's Christmas album. Sounds wonderful. One more item to add to my list for Santa.

  9. Oh your nobleness.

    You honour me... (although correct me if I'm wrong but did the Pope not have him executed for wanting Christianity to be about Christianity..? Silly boy.) Perhaps I better be careful. We don't want Benedictus to turn up in Dundee with a rope!

    Well Danny, I agree. I'm thinking there might be precious little jollity about a Christmas that was spent in devotions, and I'm definitely not espousing that! I just wish business would understand that, if we didn’t spend all our money in December, then we would spend it some other time. We are inherently spend thrift.

    There seems to be something bad (maybe it’s Dickens’s fault) about badmouthing Christmas. In Sainsbury supermarket the other day, the lad on the checkout was quietly bemoaning the fact that they will shortly be playing Christmas music all day in the store (I did mention Miss Clark’s album), and he was saying that by the end of his shift he will have heard Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is Coming to Town so many times that he will hear it in his sleep.

    Joking aside, it’s the cost of Christmas on the poor that I find heartbreaking and ironic en meme temps.

    Oh well...

    Yes. I can heartily recommend the album. Clark at 77 sounds similar to how she sounded 50 years ago... the voice is a little more textured, less chapel bells, more soulful, but still beautiful and sexy... Oh don’t get me started.....

  10. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksDecember 09, 2009 2:23 pm

    Tris.....I'm so eager to get Pet's album. And I agree with you wholeheartedly about what might properly be called the predatory commercialism of Christmas.

    Yes, Savonarola really took all that religious piety stuff too far for the Borgia Pope, and was executed for it. For the Borgias, piety had to be taken in moderation. And, while he was the secular and religious leader of Florence, Savonarola executed quite a few people himself. So there was a certain rough justice in the old days.

  11. Lords Mr Ozarks, your highness...

    It's amazing how well read you aristocrats are!

    All that executing going on... just like Texas really huh?

    Well, do get the album Danny. (She needs the money!)

    I hate Christmas songs; this is the first Christmas album I've ever bought, but there's a wide variety of styles, recorded from as early as the 1969 to 2009, from old fashioned slushy Christmassy sounds to techno... soul to big orchestra French carols....

    You've got the link?

    (See Petula... I've sold at least one copy....)