Yes, yes, I hear your mocking tones. “Tanya, you pitiful woman! It is Christmas Day, a day for friends and family to be together and make merry – and yet! You are posting to your weblog? Have you taken leave of your senses?” Be silent – as it happens I was playing quite the gracious hostess until a foolhardy guest attempted to put on XFM’s It’s A Cool Cool Christmas. As I was putting the final touches to my gin pudding, I heard Belle And Sebastian’s “O Come O Come Emmanuel” trill from a smuggled-in stereo. The hapless perpetrator soon found his head in the bowels of a boiling bird, and I chased my guests from the door, pelting them with iron-hard sprouts as they fled. “Get out! Take your Christmas filth with you! ‘Redeem thy captive Israel’ indeed! – this is nothing but a first-century version of the Human League’s “The Lebanon” rendered even more shit by that mince-brained living puddle Belle and her dolt-like pansy-named pal! It is as welcome as a rotten tangerine at the bottom of one of Keith Richards’ stockings! Begone!”

“Ow! Ow! Yaroop!” cried my fast-departing friends. “But Tanya, have a heart! Surely at this time of year you can find goodwill in your soul towards music, which after all brings joy to so many! It’s Christmas!”

Now as you can imagine, readers, quoting Noddy Holder cut little ice with me. “Bah! Humbug!” I yelled, and shuffled back inside to reacquaint myself with Mr. Gordons, a true friend at any season. But their words had struck – I flinch at the very word – a chord. I sat back in my drummer-skin armchair and began to remember the curious events of the previous night….


“You shall have a shiny penny for your labours, sir, and nothing more!” I shrieked at the portly figure of Bob The Builder Cratchit, who’d spent the long, cold winter providing me with a splendid new musician trap.
“Oh please, Miss, please,” moaned the portly childrens’ favourite, “have pity on a poor craftsman! ‘Tis Christmastime – and my poor family with not even fifty pence to feed the meter! How will we ever watch Christmas Top of the Pops?”
“Bah! Humbug!” I roared, righteous anger burning. “If every fool who went around with a ‘Merry Christmas’ or a ‘Who Will Be Number One’ on his lips were buried with Simon Bates’ false teeth around his throat, the world would be better for it! As it happens I had prepared a generous bonus for you….until I discovered that you yourself had released a Christmas single! Instead I have spent it on a tanker of the finest tonic water, for my own use.”
“Oh Miss Headon, it is a mere trifle to amuse the youngsters!” whimpered Cratchit, as his man-faced cement mixer affected a pitiable grimace. “Why, they love it so. BOBBBBB THE BUILDER! Can! He! Fix! It! BOBBBBBB THE BUILDER! Yes! He! Caaaaaaaaaaaawk -”
Bob’s song was rudely cut off as I twisted his ruddy face 360 degrees round. “Get out! Get out or I shall kick your plasticine arse from here to Timbuktu! Go and show off your claymation crack in ill-fitting jeans and leer at Bella from the Tweenies, you tiresome proletarian propaganda figure!”

He slunk away and I returned to my armchair and my bottle. Another Christmas spoiled by grasping music-makers, then. My mood was foul: even Rock Deaths: The Video Collection could not lift it. I double-checked the soundproofing on the windows and then slipped into a troubled doze…

“Tanyaaaaa…….TAAAAAAAANYA………..” – I awoke with a start, hearing a voice. Posh yet charisma-bereft, able to do nothing but moan…was someone tormenting me with a Coldplay album? And then I saw something uncanny…..a SPIRIT. I drank it. There was still some ghost floating around the room though, waving its skinny arms and dragging a train of unreturned videotapes behind it. I immediately recognised my ex-partner, Crispian DeSavary.
“Take that ridiculous sheet off, Crispian, you fool. You can’t have your page back. It was shit.”
“Noooo…..nooooo…..it is too laaaaaaate for me, Tanya.” droned the piteous haunt, “I AMMMMM dead, killed by bile when forced to watch Billy Elliot….and I must waaaaaaarn you…..change your hating ways or the same will befall youuuuuuuuuuuu…..I wear the videos I slagged off in life!”
“Well it’s a good thing you were such a lazy fucker, then. There’s only about ten of them. ‘I Hate Films’ my arse – ‘I Hate Work’ more like.”
“Mock meeeee notttttttttttttttttttttt,” he screamed, drenching me in ectoplasmic spit, “Think on your own sinnnnns….the number of CDs yoooou have execrated! Imagine, Tanya, the size of yoooooour burden! Heed me! Tonight you will be visited by threeee spirits, far more terrifying than meeeee!”
It struck me this would not be difficult. Before I could think of an appropriately shrewish response, a celestial voice boomed, “TAKE YOUR SEATS FOR THE MIDNIGHT SHOWING OF ROCKY HORROR” and with a ghastly howl Crispian’s ghost faded into the ether. I snorted, rolled over, and fell back to sleep.

Once again, I awoke. On my shoulder there rested a vile, leathery hand, attached to a bony arm, attached to a stooped and aged shoulder, attached in turn to a hideous face, fixed by time and stupidity into a disgusting parody of its once-youthful self. A feathercut that would have looked idiotic on a man of 20 topped off the simian visage. The apparition’s face was a permanent miserly frown and its eyes betrayed its lifetime of mean-spirited pettiness, funlessly measuring music for its soulfulness and purity.
“Weller,” I snarled, and reached for my shotgun.
“That won’t do you no good, Tanya,” moaned the ghostly Modfather, “I have as little desire to meet you as you to meet me, right – you don’t show no Respect to Marriott, you ain’t never listened to a Faces LP, you wouldn’t know a Vespa scooter from a Vesta bleedin’ Chow Mein!”
“Rubbish,” I said, “I know what a Vespa is – that frightful anachronism which was most famous for hurtling over a cliff at the end of Quadrophenia because even Phil fucking Daniels realised that ALL MODS WERE TOSSERS. Though it seems that news took a few years to reach Woking, sadly preventing you becoming the laughing stock of the world with your anal retentive dedication to the lostest cause of all.”
Weller turned a most un-ghostly scarlet and his crabbed hands twitched, but the risible old fool continued nonetheless. “Come with me, Tanya!” he said, “Come, see the innocent girl you once were…for I am the SPIRIT OF POP PAST!”

Phantom mists swirled around us, and when they cleared I saw a scene I had not thought to ever witness again….an end-of-term disco! All around me boys and girls were dancing, laughing, snogging, showing off their rat-tails, legwarmers and horrid lacy puffball skirts. “Behold!” croaked Weller, “1985! See the innocent girl you once were, Tanya! See what you were like before your sonic cynicism took a hold! SEE!” Weller pointed at one pouting brat, giddily mouthing the words to Baltimora’s novelty abortion “Tarzan Boy”. Her face was contorted in childish delight as she danced along, and next to her a runtish boy, his red face streaked by running gel, spun on his shoulders in a feeble attempt at ‘breaking’.
“That’s not me.” I informed the spirit.
“You what?”
“That’s Abbie Roberts, my so-called best friend. And the boy is Kevin, who I’d been going out with and she just stole from me by knowing all the words to “Careless Whisper”. THE TUPPENY HARLOT!”
“So….so where are you?” asked Weller, clearly nonplussed.
“Look behind the DJ.” The vision shifted again….and there I was, crouching by the power cables with a massive pair of shears. I felt a flush of pride! I remembered how the lights had gone out, Baltimora silenced forever, and how faithless Kevin had spent the next year in a neck brace. That was the night when I had first tasted the sweet rewards of unconditional music hate.
“Hmph.” muttered Weller, “That seems a poor thing to base a lifelong career of loathing music on.”
“Shut up, weasel,” I shot back, “At the time you were palling around with Mick Talbot and putting on war paint for photoshoots, and if you think I’m taking career advice from a man who recorded a house record so almighty bad – and this in 1989, when farting over a four-beat would have gone Top Ten for five months – that it was deemed unreleasable, then you can fuck off and take your rare groove collection, your celebrity mates, your interview tantrums, your drizzly acoustic shitfests and your all-too-public mid-life crisis with you!”

Suddenly, I was back in my own time and in my own bed. But, sadly, not alone. Snoring alongside me was none other than the Porky Pig of Po-Mo Pastiche Priory Pop, Robbie Williams. Naked. Horse’s head in a bed be damned, this was even worse than finding “Horses” by Patti Smith under your duvet! I leaped out as if bitten by a snake. Williams blearily grunted awake and pulled the blankets over his pimply arse.
“‘Ello, Taz!” he grinned, each syllable like being slapped in the face by Frank Black’s bum, “Robbie Williams here, fans! You’ve caught me showing my cheek! Get it! Cheek! Cheeky! Oh, I’m such an all-round entertainer an’ no mistake! Let me entertain yoooOOOOOuuuufffff – ” his balls hit the top of his skull and kept travelling at the application of a well-aimed Headon foot.
“That might work on the office bints and grannies, Williams, but it doesn’t wash with me – what in Hades’ name are you supposed to be?”
“I am the SPIRIT OF POP PRESENT. But as you can see – ” he gave me a grim wink – “I’ve torn all the wrappin’ off!”.
“It’s hardly the first rip-off you’ve pulled, Williams.” I replied. “And I’m well aware you have pop in a remorseless headlock of homage. Every year you serve up some platter of plagiarised pus to the record-buying public and every year they lap from your trough of tribute. Take That? Oh what a fucking surprise, you already have. There was no need to take the “Live Twice” in that song literally, and now you’re recycling “I Will Survive” – yes, survive as a reanimated zombie cadaver with your mental-case rapping smeared over the top like sick on a human face.”
“Oo er missus!” bleated the nation’s favourite puckish pop pustule, “It sounds like you’re in need of a bit of cheering up! It’s all entertainment, innit? It’s only fun!! It’s a LAUGH!”
“Give me abject misery any day.” I replied. The spectre’s face darkened.
“Well, if you’re going to be like that…..follow me!”

We found ourselves outside a familiar plasticene hovel. “Now, Tanya,” Robbie intoned as gravely as he could given his squeaky little voice, “See what your hatred has wrought!”
“But…but…this is Bob The Builder Cratchit’s house!” I gasped. “What could you possibly want to show me here?”
We passed through the door. There was Bob, and his hateful anthropomorphic pals, and there was a plasticene table with plasticene food and drink upon it. And at the end of this table, sitting upon a pile of books, was the most miserable, stunted being I had ever laid eyes on, his hair like dead straw, his face bony and contorted, his hands permanently wringing, his expression locked in a conceited misanthropic sneer…and his eye! There are not the words to describe his hideous deformed eye! Well, except for “wonky”.
“Another slice of plasticene, Tiny Thom?” Bob asked, his voice full of concern.
“Yet again you subject me to the idiot’s carnival that is the whole mealtime process, father.” Thom wearily muttered, “You imprison me in a branded middlebrow hell, your whole life a product placement, leaving me to shuffle like an idiot human dog around the inferno that is our existence, with only your fake plasticene – ha! do you see? – appliances for company? And then while millions are forced to eat their own hair because of Tony Blair’s fascist debt schemes, you have the gall to complain that your employer won’t let you participate in the hollow horror-feast that is Christmas. AND you say that your cement mixer can make nicer noises than my boundary breaking Kid A album. AS IF NICE WAS THE POINT, you compromised sack of shit!”
“Hmm. Well, I’ll save it for later then. Maybe you’ll like it cold.”, Bob said.
I turned to Robbie. “And what exactly is this meant to prove, you twat?” I asked.
For once in his life, Robbie was silent. Finally he piped thinly up: “I thought his one about the creep was OK, like.”

Back in my bed I could not sleep. I turned on the TV. Car advert. I switched channel. Insurance advert. I switched again. Perfume. Coffee. Trainers….and each advert had the same song playing. The room felt chill and dank….and behind me, I felt something rub against me. Robbie again? Oh sweet lord NO! Behind me stood a cloaked figure, shrouded in darkness and carrying a scythe, and under its great black hood I could see the gleam of white, shiny, bone…..
“Right, you.” I said, pulling the hood back. The bald head of Moby looked out sheepishly. “You’ve dragged your shrivelled genitals over the wrong woman this time, you repellent soul-selling pervert. It won’t be your heart that’s feeling bad once I’ve used that ridiculous thing you’re carrying on your bollocks. Any last words?”
“Aw, no! Stop! C’mon Tanya! I am the SPIRIT OF POP FUTURE come to show you what will happen if you don’t change your ways! You can’t chop off my balls!”
“Only cause you lost them a long time ago, Moby. And what’s this ‘future’ shit? Your pathetic record is built on the dead shoulders of your musical betters, and even they were frog-voicecd rubbish. Not to mention that it’s been around for two years already – you’re as futuristic as the horse and fucking cart!”
The spirit shrugged. “What can I say? My marketing people tell me that 44.3% of the executive-level target market still don’t own a copy of Play, and that a mere 14.3% own one copy per car – in addition, when a special Xtra-Bland version of the record is released next year we confidently expect that total Play penetration will be boosted by a further two-thirds, allowing us leverage in key advertising categories such as butter-substitutes, pantyliners, and nuclear arms. Following that we’ve a radical new incentivisation scheme where Play will actually be used to advertise other people’s records. So as you can see, I am pop music’s future.”
“I doubt you can show me anything more horrible than that.” I replied. “But feel free to try.”

The noise was deafening, in a polite kind of way. Everywhere I looked I could see pony tails trailing down white shirts, those same shirts marked by spreading wings of yellow sweat, reaching down to the bulging spare tyres and overfed guts of stinking record executive scum. The suits were dancing, or rather bobbing like chunks in a septic tank: giggling bimbettes with meringue oozing from their pretty ears ducked and weaved in between them, skilfully dodging their flailing paws. This was a record company party. This, truly, was hell. “Spirit, what is this you show me? And is there any way I can come back with a bomb?”
Moby beckoned me to the very heart of the party, where the sycophantic whinnying of a hundred fools indicated the presence of the star, the corrupt maggot at the heart of this pop corpse. “Show me, Spirit! Show me the wretch whose party this is!” I implored.
Moby merely pointed, and my gaze followed his bony finger to the figure at the centre of the party. There, smoking a cigar the size of a sausage and with a seal-pup-and-truffle vol-au-vent in the other hand, there, O reader, I stood.
“President Headon! President Headon!” cried a wretched voice. A down-at-heel man with a notebook stood near the door. “A quote I beg you! Your acquisition of Bertelsmann-Phillips gives you utter control over all record companies! And yet you started as one who hated all music! How did you manage this meteoric rise?”
The horrid future me brayed like a horrid horse. “Well, Dahling, I could have done nothing without my readers! Their post-nihilist irony gave me the fan base I needed to make it to the top – and once I realised I truly was a pop-culture antiheroine for the nu-masses, the rest was easy. My dear husband couldn’t be with us tonight because of his Coca-Cola and Nike commitments, but ‘Tiny’ – and hey, there’s an irony – Thom, this one’s for you!”

Reader, I am ashamed to say I lost my cool, and my ample lunch, though I am not ashamed to say I lost it all over Moby. “Take…..take me home…..” I sobbed. And then I was back in my bed. It was Christmas morning. I flung the windows open….bells were pealing! And they sounded……well, shit, really. But I could no longer afford such thinking, not if I was to escape the ghastly picture the spectre had shown me. I stopped only for a quick snifter of gin, and then ran headlong to Tower Records. The spotty youth behind the counter paused a minute in his perusal of Limp Bizkit: In Their Own Word and I breathlessly grabbed them by the lapels.
“You! Young man! Merry Christmas! And quickly! Get me the best record in the shop! Only the finest will do mind – the biggest seller! The number one! It’s time for me to reconnect with music, to find within myself once more the joy and beauty, the innovation and risk-taking of this most unquenchable of artforms! Fetch the album that’s top of the charts, boy – there’s a golden guinea in it for you!”
He slouched off, and swiftly returned. With trembling hands I took the record – the magnificent new record that would be my gateway into a deep, abiding love of music in all its forms. How beautiful its burnished red sleeve seemed, how stately the single….yellow….figure…..
“Wait a fucking minute,” I said, “This is the fucking Beatles!”
“Yes, Beatles One! All the Beatles’ No.1 singles on one – get it! – CD! You gotta respect the Beatles, lady! It’s all there! Everything from “She Loves You” to “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be”! A masterpiece, each one! That’s, uh, fifteen pounds.”
“Fifteen poundings more like!” I exploded, “Are you seriously trying to tell me that the best-selling record of 2000 is the cunting Beatles – twenty-seven of the most overapplied aural enemas of all time crammed like mewling veal calves on one stinking disc! That’s not an album, it’s a war crime! Paging the fucking Hague! Everybody in the world knows those songs better than they know how to wipe their arse, an appropriate comparison since the Beatles are a festering heap of shit! John was a cunt, Ringo is a cunt, Paul is a cunt and George “Cunt” Harrison is an extra horrible supreme cunt. The world has taken leave of its senses – there is still work for me to do, and damn the consequences!”

And there reader, I leave you, as I left him, though minus the rectal surgery to remove the splintered aluminium and plastic. A merry and muted Christmas to each and every one of you. Unless you play an instrument, you fuckers.