Christmas Songs- Please Stop Folking Them up.

When we think of Christmas time (and it’s OK, I’ve been out on the razz with the Year 3 Mums for Christmas so now its not too early to mention it anymore), we think of large quantities of gin  fun, laughter and cheesy tunes.

I have lots of Now and self made CDs full of the likes of Slade, Wizzard and even, badly enough East 17. All of them either crack you up with the opportunity to sing along or with the cringing of your youth where you wanted a furry hooded puffa jacket like Tony Mortimers (for shame).

What you don’t want is the kind of song that leaves you crying into your mulled wine.

So, why,why the Simon Cowell, have we suddenly decided to put a folk edge on some of the top tunes we all know and love?

It was bad enough when The Power of Love, one of the most epic love songs ever was given some wishy washy, nondescript “remix” by Gabrielle Aplin. I can do a very good impression of her version, especially after a few glasses of Pinot Grigio. Think (if you are old enough to remember it) of when Vic Reeves used to do his “jazz” version of a song and you’re halfway there.

Then we have the abomination of Bieber stealing Mariah’s songs. Eugh. Even worse than his peroxide do. Mini has the Bieber’s Christmas CD and I may or may not have hidden it behind her chest of draws.

Now, we have the folk do over of Stay Another Day. Shudders.

I loved East 17 in my mid teens. They sang very rude songs (as my parent’s found out when it was my turn to play my new CD album of their’s called Steam. I was banned from playing it in earshot of anyone else ever again). They wore baggy dungarees. They had a cute dog.

When they followed the usual boy band route to Christmas Number 1 (back in the days before the X Factor ruined it for everyone with the predictability of the winners song reaching the top spot) with the, truly heartfelt Stay Another Day, us fans waved our arms in the air along to Top of the Pops (we weren’t old enough for lighters but we so would have used them if we’d been old enough).

But now Chvrches (who? Am I wrong but surely churches is spelt with a U?) have, supposedly cleverly done a new version on live lounge. Its shit. It has taken all the depth out of the song. And its hard to suggest that a song by someone else who are copying East 17, lacks depth. After all, one thing East 17 were not was Deep (apart from their top ten hit of the same name).

Please. Put down the back catalogue, and let us enjoy our traditional cheese and sing a long greats. Please stop remaking them. We need cheese for when someone inevitably has a few too many and sings at the Office party. You can’t do that to a crap folk version.

Take your hands off our traditional songs and let us eat, drink and dance to silly lyrics. They make you smile. They make us happy (unless you are Elder, who is not a fan of most cheese Christmas or otherwise).

The only song not allowed to be jolly at Christmas is  I Believe in Father Christmas by Greg Lake, and thats OK, cos its the drunk at Christmas version of House of the Rising Sun.

Leave the damn songs alone and be miserable and wishy washy elsewhere.

Parent’s Need Love Too: Look After Yourself This Winter

I am writing this post as this week made me realise how rubbish I am at looking after my own health.

As a parent, you often put your own needs second to the kids, the house, the shopping and everything else. Christmas makes it worse as you’re busy getting all the presents in.

In our house, we also have Littlest’s health to keep an eye on as winter is when he is at his most vulnerable and often needs steroids to make him feel a little more human.

As usual, as soon as the end of the summer came along and the weather became more changeable, I started to get an annoying cough. I get these most times of the year when its chilly, and I just put up with it, save for the odd bottle of cough syrup.

Last year, it took months for my cough to go, and this year has been just as long, but more worryingly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I also had no other flu or viral symptoms.

In the end, after Mums at the new school commented how long I’d had my cough and how ill I sounded, looking concerned, I made a GP appointment.

My problem is I have never had a good relationship with a GP, I usually feel fobbed off, or worse, feel like they feel I’m a time waster (this was down to one GP who, everytime I would go to see him, he would dismiss me with the argument I over worry things down to having had-not continued to have- depression when Littlest was born). So I avoid going where possible.

I am really pleased though that the new surgery are friendly and treat me with respect. They listen, and they don’t expect you to fit into an allotted time for treatment.

It also turns out that I didn’t have a simple cough. I have actual asthma.

I’ve probably had it for quite a while in fact, and I need to take inhalers.
To be fair, it seemed pretty obvious when the GP told me, as the clues were there and I should have picked them up- after all I’ve looked after Littlest’s own lung issues for years!

It does make me peeved a little as I’,m probably the healthiest I’ve been for ages. I have been walking everywhere, I’ve been eating less and I’ve dropped from a size 18 to a size 12/14.  I’ve not been following a faddy diet, I have still been eating chocolate and other things that diets tell you to cut out, just eating less and being sensible.

Its good that I now know as it was getting bloody scary walking and feeling like I was close to collapse.

With that in mind, parent’s, carers, make sure you look after your own health this winter, its not being selfish, its being sensible, as if you get really ill you wont be able to look after anyone!

Putting yourself first is fine!

Professionalism Versus Product-Why Constructive Criticism Is Important for a Review Blog

I am writing this after a particularly shocking bit of blogger/PR relations over a very expensive buggy being, well, a bit shite.

I have reviewed for a number of years now, through times when I had to turn down products down to the sheer weight, to the leaner times, and back around again. One thing that I feel has always kept me in good stats is my honesty.

Whether I have bought something, or been lucky enough to be sent it, I do always do my best to really give a 360 viewpoint of a product, however expensive it is. Otherwise, how will your readers know what they are getting?

My tagline has always been “testing the good, bad and overpriced so you don’t have to”, and I stick by it to this day.

Sadly, I have come in for some criticism from my fellow bloggers and reviewers, and have, on occasion, had a curt response from brands and their reps too. To my mind, I don’t let it fuss me, as the good brands, those who actually want their business to survive, will welcome constructive reviews and will use them to their advantage.

I don’t believe I’ve ever done a bitchy or unprofessional post as I’ve always tried to weigh up the good and bad points of a product or service, however bad it may have been. If something is utterly great, I will still mention the price or availability or boredom factor.

Unfortunately, not all reviewers are the same as me. Some will put the chance of what many mistakenly call a freebie over being honest. All I feel this is achieving is setting an unwelcome precedent for the honest amongst us, to be glowing about everything we ever review. It also means some-not all- brands and their PR folk tend to expect that, if you are sent something, you will be so overwhelmed with their generosity to pick you and yours that you can only bow and scrape and give it top marks no matter what.

The reason I say “mistakenly” call something a freebie, is because when you think of it, when the majority of us actually take time to put a review together, testing items, researching prices, and links, as well as taking pictures or filming vlogs (I do all of this on Family Panel), it all takes time. That time equates to the cost of the item sent, so great if an item is over £40, not great if you’ve been sent a game worth a fiver. Not only that, even if a product may retail for £500 (as is the case with Buggy Gate), yet their actual cost to produce is a lot less.

Other traditional media outlets, such as Which? do all the above, with a team of staff, all getting paid rather well. They have professional photographers, they have heavy hitting sites and tweet feeds, all run by different people, and they have very fancy tools to put these articles together.

We do it alone- or with their help of our kids!

I do think some-again not all but some- forget this.

Transparency should always win out over the mighty idea of products and parties, but sadly, with bloggers who are honest being called unprofessional and PRs demanding products back (even ones reviewed prior to a negative review of a separate product), what hope is there for actual professionalism and constructive reviews?

It seems some brands believe the might of owning a product and being sent it for “free” means they want a good review no matter what. And if that’s really all they do want, why send a product at all, when you can canvass as many bloggers as you like for £50 each to write or post a pre-written sponsored post?

Let’s hope this doesn’t set us on a dodgy road to blogs filled with mindless fluff and little intelligent feedback.