Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Radical carol singing

Last Saturday I went carol singing with the Slackers choir. We sing Christmas carols with the lyrics changed to critique the consumerist angle of Christmas. Here's some of the lyrics:

To the tune of Little Town of Bethlehem
Oh gentle folk of London Town
Think how they feed us lies
All through the streets the shops compete
Urging us to buy and buy
Whilst elsewhere explodeth
Another bomb tonight
As innocents fall
Were in the shopping mall
This doesn’t quite seem right.

Spend all our cash, we’re feeling flash
As the queues continue to grow
Buying luxury goods and loads of food
for folks we hardly know
Whilst in so many places
The people starve and die
As I carve my bird
It’s quite absurd
that we buy into this lie

Then at new year the sales appear
And everything’s reduced
In store we see new product lines
And know that we’ve been duped
We wish that we had waited
Until now to buy
The model’s been updated
It makes us want to cry.

To the tune of Once in Royal David’s City
Once in dirty London City
Stood a huge big fuck off shop
Where they sold their goods aplenty
And the shopping did not stop
Branded bags all overflowing
All their savings quickly going
Thus consumerism wild
Yule’s cheer message has defiled
Thus consumerism wild
Yule’s cheer message has defiled

To the tune of Silent Night
Silent night holy night
Bombs go boom,Soldiers fight
Round the stores the suckers trawl
Buying crap for one and all
Shop until you drop
Shop until you drop

To the tune of Oh Come All Ye Faithful
Oh come all ye shoppers
Burdened and despondent
Come all ye followers of ma-a-mon
Come and buy things
Sparkly and redundant

Oh come let us ignore it
Oh come let us deplore it
Oh come let us abhor it
Money and greed.

Ring tills with profit
Ring in exploitation
Ring all ye registers of capitalism
Glory to profit
At it’s highest

Oh come let us ignore it
Oh come let us deplore it
Oh come let us abhor it
Money and greed.

To the tune of Away in a Manger
Away in a sweatshop
A pittance for pay
Work under age children
With no time to play
Making trainers and T-shirts
And luxury goods
Threatened with violence
And given no food

The stars in the media
Encourage our greed
Making us want things we don’t really need
Wasting resources
And coercing our brains
Using up carbon with little to gain.

We started out in Carnaby St and soon had an appreciative audience of tired shoppers...
Then we stood in the queue for coffee at Starbucks and after a few minutes we started to sing. The queue moved up gradually; when I got to the part of the counter where you order, I just kept singing. The staff were so sweet, they offered us free coffee. The others, as hardened anti-capitalists,  fled, but I felt it would be rude to refuse. Afterwards I was criticized for having drunk 'capitalist brew'. The incriminating video footage is on Indymedia.
Next stop was the Apple store, Regent St. We mounted the glass stairs to the first floor and serenaded the shoppers. The Apple staff were not cool with it. Handled it alot worse than Starbucks. Which is strange cos the whole ethos of Apple is that they are alternative. (In fact I did a quick poll amongst us and over half of our activist crew use Apple products). The security guy was getting quite angry. I said to him "Just chill. The more you chill, the sooner we will be gone". Shaking slightly, he said " If I don't get you out, I'll be sacked". I felt kind of guilty then. As we were being pushed out of the shop I said " well you know I'm an Apple user... I'm a customer actually and you shouldn't treat us like this". 
We moved onto Nike town, House of Fraser and Selfridges. House of Fraser were cool, took absolutely no notice of us, partly because they have hardly any customers. In fact I have to admit that in all my years in London, I've never even been in that shop before. Nike town, one guy told me I had the voice of an angel. With a straight face he claimed he thought I was Charlotte Church for a minute.  
Selfridges had a scruffy dyke push us out from behind. I have to say it was quite difficult to concentrate on being anti-consumerist with so many shopping goodies winking at us. Selfridges had an amazing gold brass bath tub that cost £22, 000. 
Naturally my darling teenager stayed home. She didn't want a repeat of last year when she was hugely embarrassed by us in her favourite shop Topshop. I was practically arrested while she skulked in the designer handbag section. 
I do love singing carols...
Update: MacUser and Apple news ran stories saying that we left firecrackers outside their shop half an hour later and caused mayhem. Many people commented on how irresponsible we were and what a terrible way to make our point. I posted on both sites saying that the report was untrue. We were at another shop at that time and that as we were all peace activists, there was no way we would do something like that. So either Apple mac was lying or it was another group altogether! 

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