My song today is ‘Driving Home for Christmas’. This Christmas song was written and composed by English singer-songwriter Chris Rea. It was originally released in 1988. Despite its original modest chart placement, the song has made a reappearance in the top 40 every year since 2007 when was featured among the Top 10 Christmas singles.
This song has been a Christmas favourite of mine ever since I first heard it around 1990. In fact, hearing it forms one of several important seasonal indicators that tell me annually that Christmas Day is fast approaching. As Christmas Day draws closer, one sees an increase in the footfall at shopping centres as hundreds of people pass you armed with shopping bags, stuffed to the brim with presents for their friends and loved ones; some of which will never be used and others that will be returned and exchanged before the New Year Day sales start. The roads seem to get fuller with slow-moving traffic, and despite it being a season of goodwill, more horns get honked by impatient motorists who curse the queue of ‘bad drivers’ they seem to be in.
Due to the current lockdown and rapid Covid-19 increase this December, things will be much different this Christmas. The shopping centres will not be open in the immediate days to Christmas, yet there will be some car travellers driving on Christmas Eve driving to meet up with a member of their family, and eager to share Christmas Day with them.
I do not know about you, but when you pull up alongside another car at the traffic lights, do you automatically look across at the other motorist and start a mad minute’s personal assessment based only on what your eyes see and your mind conjectures? Do you think he/she looks ‘fit’ and begin a thirty second’s flirtatious exchange of looks that says nothing significant, but could in other circumstances, hold out the promise of everything? Does your mind then move from the speculation of a frustrated romantic motorist to that of sociopathic Police Officer who could so easily have turned killer twenty years earlier had they not become a law enforcement officer instead?
It must be the writer’s imagination constantly at play inside me, but my mind can turn over so many permutations of fanciful thoughts in the time it takes for the traffic lights to change from red to green. I usually begin to speculate what the other motorist is currently engaged in this Christmas season, especially at that time of day, and what thoughts are floating around inside their head? I wonder where they are travelling to and why, or where they have just come from, and what did they do there? I ask myself several imaginary questions which only the curious mind of a police detective or an inquisitive author would possibly think of. Is the other driver thinking about some romantic planned rendezvous with their spouse, or are squeezing in seeing some secret lover they’ve been having a clandestine affair with for the past two years, and who is pressing them to leave their spouse and family? Or do they have a serious medical problem which has just come to light during a casual visit to the local health clinic to have their GP check out a small facial mole which has been annoying them for months now? Or have they just been for a hospital test and have just learned that they have malignant cancer, and will not see another Christmas out? Or have just now been medically pronounced as being ‘cancer clear’ and are happily on their way home to tell their family the glorious news? Perhaps they are a mass murderer who has killed ten victims over the past twenty years and has managed to remain undetected, and is currently motoring to a quiet country spot where they can dump the body of their latest victim who lies dead in the boot of their car? All these permutations of thought can cross my mind in the passing of a mere minute.
By the time the traffic lights change, I have usually concluded which scenario it is. Whatever I decide them to be, it is never ‘an ordinary person out on an innocent shopping trip’. Such a conclusion would represent a total waste of my brainpower. It would not have been worth putting my brain into drive only to crash it in a rational conclusion. I would rather have stuck with my very first flirtatious glance than to have gone down a path that led to an innocent front door and a household of normal occupants inside.
My conclusion will be invariably determined by the nature of the look the other driver gives me when they glance back across at me or don’t? If, for instance, they seem determined to ignore my very presence by looking straight ahead in a stare of outright defiance, it might suggest the presence of ‘guilt’. In that case, I would seriously consider that they have definitely done something wrong or intend doing so at the first opportunity? I might even return to my first thought; namely that they have done no wrong but would dearly like to if they thought they might get away with it and believed it would not ruin their marriage. Yes! That sounds quite plausible, given my rugged and handsome face. Perhaps the look of ‘guilty pleasure’ in her face that she is attempting to conceal has been brought about because she secretly fancies the look of me and has been entertaining sexual thoughts which embarrasses her?
If the face of the other driver carries a look of impatience, then I am most likely to plump for the option that they cannot wait to see their secret lover. If their look harbours a suspicion of anger or revenge, I will most likely conclude that they have probably just been dumped or handed their divorce papers by their cheating partner and father of their four children. If their face appears to be in a state of temporary squashed-nose revulsion, I’ll guess that they have probably overeaten at the Christmas dinner outing with work colleagues and have just filled their car with the flatulent appreciation of too many Brussel sprouts. However, if the face of the other driver looks deadly serious, is bland and looks straight ahead with a glare of fixed determination, I know that they are most probably a mass murderer in malicious thought of their wicked deed.
But, if they are like me; simply smiling and singing along loudly with Chris Rea on their car radio, I will know that they are obviously, ‘Driving Home for Christmas’. If you are driving over this Christmas, please drive sober and stay safe.
Sheila and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Love and peace Bill xxx