I was standing in a queue when I realised it. As is the English way, I do a lot of queuing. And I do a lot of realising when in queues. Quite a bit of my best thinking, in fact.
This morning I went, bright and early, to Touchwood. For those of you who don't know it, Touchwood is a local shopping centre. (An American friend mentioned today that it sounded to him more like a male strip club. Thank you Tom - I can never think of the place in the same way ever again.)
I've digressed again, haven't I? Sorry.
Anyway, I was waiting in a queue in Marks & Spencer which was moving with all the alacrity of continental drift. And I was thinking. What would Christmas be without M&S?
I've done it again. Must do better. Apologies all round.
The store's tannoy was playing various Christmassy tunes, songs we've all heard a million times. As I had nothing better for my mind to do, I let it wander as the strains of Little Drummer Boy wafted among the merrily shopping folks. And it was at that moment that I had a blinding realisation.
Little Drummer Boy is a phenomenally odd song, isn't it?
It's not as if the lyrical adaptation of a drum beat isn't peculiar enough. Even Stevie Wonder (for it was he on this occasion) was struggling to maintain his infinite cool as he pa rum-pum-pum-pum'ed his way through it. But it's the basic premise of the song that I find really hard to get my head around.
Let's break this down, shall we?
You're the Virgin Mary. (I realise that's a bit of a stretch for some of you - just bear with me.) You've just given birth in what can only be called unusual circumstances. You've had to bed down in a stable as all the hotels were booked. (Mind you, what did you expect? It is Christmas after all.) You don't mind the lambs so much, but the oxen are really trying your patience. You've already been joined by three shepherds. Your cousin Valerie had a home birth last year and none of this happened to her.
The three wise men were quite nice. Gold's always good to have, and frankincense helps to mitigate the general ox-based atmosphere that appears to be prevalent right now. You're not certain about myrrh, though. Is it some type of antelope? Never mind.
But then this kid comes in and tells you he has no present to give. Can he play you a tune instead? You're tired, you're not thinking straight and you nod wearily. Then he pulls out a snare drum and sticks.
This cannot end well. Even with the ox and lamb keeping time.
I've got a six-month-old niece and I'm not convinced I would be welcome round at my brother's house if I attempted to give my interpretation of In the Air Tonight. I think general crankiness might be involved.
All in all, I think Silent Night had much the better idea.