Fairy Tales for adults

One of the songs that marks Christmas for me is ‘Fairy Tale of New York’, with the Pogues and the wonderful Kirsty MacColl; if I ever wanted to be anyone but me, it was Kirsty. I remember asking my daddy why he couldn’t marry her because she would make a good mum – he laughed and said ‘she’s already taken little one’; seemed a good idea to me – fathers, let the tiniest obstacle get in the way πŸ™‚

It’s an odd Christmas song, but it is a powerful one, because, in part it reflects a version of the immigrant experience which fails to make it into the Hollywood version. The two characters are Irish immigrants, not too long out of the ‘awld country’ – he still says ‘happy Christmas babe’ (an American would surely say “merry Christmas”? She still uses the English vulgarity “happy Christmas my arse” rather than the American “ass”. Their dreams have soured – he’s in the drunk tank on Christmas Eve, and she hopes it is their last time. There is a sadness, the sadness that accompanies the death of any relationship. But is it dead? One of the reasons – apart from powerful lyrics and a great performance, it still works, is that like all good fiction, it doesn’t tell you what you’d like to know – it leaves loose ends and inferences you could read any way you liked.

So, when he says ‘I could have been someone’, she says cynically. ‘well so could anyone’, but his reply to her claim that he took her dreams away is heartbreaking in its vulnerability – ‘I kept them with me babe, I put them with my own, can’t make it on my own, built them round you’. What a world there is in all of that, of young love frustrated, of ambition broken by circumstances, but also of the hope that springs eternal in the human heart – and the American dream.

Isn’t that what America is really about? That vision, that idea? Has there ever been a country founded on an idea of hope? Has there ever been such a hodge-podge of immigrants all battling and hoping, some falling, some rising, but however low you fall, always with the hope of rising? Is that why so many now feel a sense of despair – as though those times are gone?

I’m only a Welsh girl living far away, and probably, like Shane MacGowan, with a vision of America shaped by the movies, but I’d like to think that, just like the couple in the song, the fairy tale has a happy ending – and, of course, if it isn’t a happy ending, it isn’t the end yet.

For Christians, we are all ‘someone’ – beloved of God, in whose image we are made, and there is, in that, a reassurance. It is no accident – I think – that it was Christians from the West who had the vision and courage to create a great nation out of the wilderness they encountered. The ‘Shining city of a hill’ was their inspiration – and remains one for many Americans – however much secularists try to replace that dream with their own fairytales.

Good music and poetry (and good lyrics are poetry) have the power to transform things and to take us places in our imagination – and here, in a few short verses, we can see something profound about the immigrant – and the American experience – encapsulated. Either that, or I just have a vivid imagination – either way – something to share with all you wonderful people here at this season.

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About JessicaHof
Anglican Christian, evangelist, survivor, grateful

42 Responses to Fairy Tales for adults

  1. NEO says:

    Probably you are a girl whose view of America was shaped by movies. But what movies, and so what, a lot of American girls, and guys like me, were too.

    It is an unusual Christmas song, one I hadn’t run across, but I like it, a lot. And you know, you’re right again, it couldn’t be a “Fairytale of London, or Paris, or Dublin, although it could be of Dubuque, or Omaha, or a thousand other places, large and small, in America. In an acorn shell, that is the American Dream, you haven’t lost until you quit.

    Nothing, really to do with material success, although we talk a lot about that, and that is important, because we really do want our kids to have it better than we did, and we’ve usually managed to make it so.

    Another one of your outstanding posts, dearest friend. πŸ™‚ xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • JessicaHof says:

      Thank you Neo – it sure is good to be back – and finding my sea legs, so to speak πŸ™‚ xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • NEO says:

        Your sea legs are good enough to be a deckhand on a destroyer in a typhoon, I think. So glad you’re back! πŸ™‚ xx

        Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          Thank you kindly sir πŸ™‚ xx

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          No problem at all, Ma’am. Best legs I’ve ever seen on a deckhand, I must say, though! πŸ™‚ xx

          Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          Ha! Sauce. As they say in C’s neck of the woods – ‘legs de luxe – de looks like ducks’

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          LOL! Such arrant nonsense, in this case!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. “For Christians, we are all ‘someone’ – beloved of God, in whose image we are made, and there is, in that, a reassurance. It is no accident – I think – that it was Christians from the West who had the vision and courage to create a great nation out of the wilderness they encountered. The ‘Shining city of a hill’ was their inspiration – and remains one for many Americans – however much secularists try to replace that dream with their own fairytales.” – Amen!

    Living and loving in this American freedom, myself! (“Beloved of God” (Jude 1-2, etc.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • JessicaHof says:

      Hurrah for that Father πŸ™‚ x

      Like

      • “To those who have been called, who are loved [beloved] in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.” (Jude 1-2, NIV, 2011) πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. the unit says:

    Nice music, nice voices. NEO knows of my old ears. I went to A-Z Lyrics to see the words I was listening to.
    It’s not a new Christmas song and Wiki says popular in the UK. I’ll probably just stick to the old ones I know best.
    It does depict what realizing the wayward ways, repentance, and salvation available is all about…and who it is for, everyone. Sinners πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed “sinners” in the hands of a “loving” God! Such is the love of Jesus Christ! πŸ™‚ See Romans 3: 25, in the RSV… “whom God put forward as an expiation (conciliation)” … ‘In Christ’!

      Liked by 1 person

    • JessicaHof says:

      It is a very odd song for Christmas – but I think works for the reasons you suggest πŸ™‚

      Like

  4. the unit says:

    Fairytale that any one in charge watched. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I never heard that song before, thanks for sharing it!

    There is a lot to think about there, and I think it is really universal. I often felt as though I saw more of that abroad than at home, for I met many who immigrated to Europe because they could not get into America, and as a result, they were struggling to find their way. To me, London seemed more like what NYC probably once was, with so many variations of ethnicities crowded in.

    Yet nonetheless, that song could probably reach people just about anywhere. The American dream seems to have become so much more universal, spreading to so many cultures. As one London taxi driver once said, quite well, “I don’t know why so many people want to see America go down. They don’t realize that if America goes down, we will too.”

    In a way, he was pointing out how that American dream has become a dream that is today possible in so many other lands. Yet it always has its struggles, which is part of the human condition.

    I don’t know if my thoughts are making sense – but it was an interesting song that I never heard, and I think it could reach further today than perhaps when it was even recorded.

    Liked by 2 people

    • JessicaHof says:

      Yes, it makes perfect sense to me. It shows the way that America has set a dream before us all to which we all aspire πŸ™‚ xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I fell in love with America, standing shoulder to shoulder with American Marines in combat (two wars), I was an RMC, but I think the American dream for me came reading the American Constitution! I pray they discover it again! And btw my little Irish brother is now an American citizen (a US Marine “grunt” he was in the 1980’s, by way of Beirut).

        Liked by 2 people

        • JessicaHof says:

          SO, you’re one of a long line of Irishmen who have enriched America with their work and worship πŸ™‚ xx

          Like

        • Thank you, but in reality America and Americans have enriched my life more than I can say, but yes I miss my Ireland of the 1950’s, memories, memories! I am always an Irish Brit!

          Liked by 2 people

        • JessicaHof says:

          Lovely to hear it – just as it should be I think πŸ™‚ xx

          Like

        • Btw just a note, but the U.S. Constitution has 4, 440 words. It is the oldest and the shortest written constitution of any major government in the world. And just another note, but Thomas Jefferson did not sign the Constitution. He was in France during the Convention, where he served as the U.S. minister, John Adams was serving as the U.S. minister to Great Britain during the Constitutional Convention and did not attend either.

          Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          That;s good to know – can you imagine how many words it would have if it were written now!!

          Like

        • Yes, thank God for that! Because of his poor health, Benjamin Franklin needed help to sign the Constitution, as the tears rolled down his face. He was 81, the oldest signer.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I cannot hardly think of anything well written today, in either the American government or the British? I’m sure there are some, somewhere? Lost btw are the great poet’s! But thank God for the one’s we have in the past, like the American Robert Frost!

          β€œThe Road Not Taken”… last stanza:

          I shall be telling this with a sigh
          Somewhere ages and ages hence:
          Two roads diverged in a wood, and Iβ€”
          I took the one less traveled by,
          And that has made all the difference.
          ― Robert Frost

          Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          That’s a lovely poem – thanks for the reminder.

          Like

        • I think I can understand a little of how you feel about still missing Ireland. Ireland was the first place that began to open my eyes first-hand to the struggles of other cultures that continue to this day. Of Irish descent, I had always heard, but to be there during a time when Ireland was really almost coming into its own modern, almost “American” dream, was an eye opener. I do not know what it is like now, but what I saw stays with me.

          Liked by 1 person

        • P.S. I guess I should say more Dublin than Ireland. As I have discovered, what happens in the big cities of the world does not necessarily touch the rest of the lands.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Ireland, the land of Saints, Scholars & Kings! Note to mention the Irish Puritans! πŸ™‚ (Archbishop James Ussher, the Irish Articles 1615)

          Like

        • Yes, the depth of being Irish is always both conscience & religion, or soul-spirit! (A Druid & Celt) πŸ˜‰

          Like

        • *Of course there is no modern Irish Druid, in the sense of dogma. For the Druid’s were not doctrinal, but spiritual, in the sense of nature, and were pagans. And here we can apply perhaps biblically Romans 2: 10-15? God alone will judge each persons heart & soul! But, the standard is always alone God’s, and ‘In Christ’, (Rom. 2: 16).

          Like

      • πŸ™‚ Somehow, it seems that the non-Americans often remember that better than the home grown ones. Isn’t there something that they say, about strangers often reminding us more about who we really are? I cannot think of it, but it sounds familiar, or at the very least, good. You are a blessing in that you see what so many here can often easily forget.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I have been here (off and on) since about 08, and my younger brother before me. Yes, I love America! But just like so-called Great Britain, things have so changed in the West! The essence of Modernity & Postmodernity have swallowed the West whole now, we have forgotten the culture of the Judeo-Christian ethic and reality, so very sad! But God In Christ always has His people and remnant! But, rough days are ahead for the true Body of Christ! When I first came to America I visited the South and the so-called Bible-Belt (1967). As an RMC (Royal Marine) we jumped (parachuted) with Army Spl Forces at Fort Bragg N.C. And later with the American Marine 3rd Force Recon in Okinawa. Then of course later we had a liaison group attached to the Marine Force Recon, and some of us were “attached” to them in Vietnam in 1968. The whole point was many of these American “cream” Marines, were Southern boys. And some were very conservative Christians. It was a great effect on me, at 18 and 19 years old! And this all connected to my one Irish great-gram who was an Evangelical Christian, who also had a great effect on me! (My first connection with the old Scofield Bible πŸ˜‰ ) And all of this connected later to my own Evangelical, though Anglican historical path. And now I see so many more true “Biblical” Evangelicals in America. Though, it is now becoming a very hard road for the faithful and biblical Evangelicals, with so much liberalism in America! Note, even many Traditional (conservative) Catholics are being hammered by just general Catholics these days, as even with “Francis”! Also Catholic Ireland has gone for today’s gay sexual ethics? The Visible and Historical Christian Church/churches are under siege today!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Wow, you have seen a lot! I can certainly understand a lot of what you are saying. So much is in shambles, and I hope it can return one day.

          It is really nice to connect with someone from Ireland again. I rarely get that chance anymore. πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          Thank you dear friend – yes, I hope there is something in that πŸ™‚ xx

          Like

        • Btw too, I should thank our host NEO for allowing this old Reformed Anglican ecclectic to hang around! Believe me, my theology does not go down well with many today, especially our postmodern friends! Oh well, such is freedom! πŸ˜‰

          Liked by 2 people

        • Yes, NEO and Jessica are both really kind in that way, to people of all beliefs it seems, including traditional Catholics. πŸ™‚ I understand what you mean, because our theology does not go down very well either with many.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Yes, I have still several Traditional and conservative Roman Catholic friends! Though most of them are intellectuals, so we put-up with each others theological “rhetoric”, which can be hot at times! πŸ˜‰ Though I am sure some see me as an “Apostate Catholic” perhaps? but we hang in there also! πŸ˜‰

          *Btw, in reality my Irish Catholicism surely is “part” of me, or my past, but I am always Reformational, as with Luther! See Melanchton’s statement towards Rome in the Schmalkald Articles. I am somewhere between both Melanchton and Luther on Rome! But this involves theological and historic homework. πŸ™‚

          Liked by 2 people

        • Yes, they traditionalists do tend to be quite intellectual, that is for sure! I actually do enjoy a good debate, and get myself tangled up in quite a few from time to time, but prefer it more in person. πŸ™‚

          Yes, I can see where they Irish Catholicism would stick around in one way or another. I used to go to a Carmelite Church off Grafton Street in Dublin, I forget the name, but it was so lovely, and memories like that really stick with you. I can see where Americans would loose them much easier – there is nothing very memorable about many of our spaceship churches!

          Merry Christmas! πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

  6. the unit says:

    About the movies…sorry to a bit long, but a sleepy Sunday afternoon here…
    I finally found out I was elderly. Zeke Emanuel, the Obamacare doctor, said 75 is old enough to live. I paid no attention. I wasn’t quite there yet (and still got 1 1/2 to go) and me and my chainsaw could tackle tough jobs. Then about a year ago I had a hard time climbing in that tree to cut a limb away from the power line, and even climbing my little ladder to change a light blub (which I nearly out of). I realized…I have seen the elderly and it is myself, who dat say who dat? (Pogo like)
    I remember some things from when I was three, four, and five, going on six. They were good things. There was things besides seeing myself, other than myself. I didn’t have a particular name for them other than what I was told. I was told a name, the rest I just observed and was always comfortable with that.
    During the recollection years i lived on a 80 acre farm,…corn, watermelons, pears, chickens, milk cows, stepping on a old board with a rusty nail and soaking foot in kerosene. Knowing about diversity came second nature. There were squirrels, rabbits, foxes, crows and bluejays, they could cause a ruckus. Snakes, turtles, and wasps…and one particular yellow jacket that stung me just below the eye. I been yellowjackcist ever since.
    Joe Wayne was my first friend. He lived right across U.S. 80. His daddy was county sheriff, my daddy was downtown watchmaker, that’s all and what I knew.
    Now about diversity as per folks. Again just names I knew and observance. At my age four a fellow named Joe (not Joe
    Wayne) raised the corn and melons on the farm, we got some and he sold the remainder in town. His one mule drawn wagon carried produce to town. I rode in season with him to town and met up with Dad when watchmaker’s shop closed in the evening. Then there was Charles who rode a Servicycle and delivered for Dad and other businesses around town. Charles let me ride behind him on the bike. No helmets, just our hard heads sufficed. And never a need to question motives or be afraid. Both were black men of the times.
    You probably didn’t see that in American movies, but those were the days. And that was North Central Mississippi, not far from the Tallahatchie Bridge and the Carroll County pitcher show. In those days I can’t remember a movie i’d been to. Good parenting and good diversity in those days (just memories now, all are gone for me) πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • I lived kind of near the Dublin Mountains, starting near Shankill to Sean Walsh, now park, the Dublin Mountains Way. And now its considered one of the most scenic walks in the world! Aye, I miss the Dublin of my youth, now only in my memories!

      Now I hear Ireland has taken in, or will, the most people from Syria? Poor Europe, its almost gone now, as to the West! WE are seeing changes that will never return!

      Liked by 1 person

      • JessicaHof says:

        I fear that is the case.

        Like

    • JessicaHof says:

      Sounds to me as though they were better days than these :)xx

      Like

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