I meant to mention that all day, on and off, the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" has been running through my head. (People always look at me funny when I say I like the Pogues; not really in character for me.) For those who don't know the song, it's the one that starts with the line "It was Christmas Eve, babe," and then immediately turns that on its head with the next line: ". . . in the drunk-tank. . . ." An Irish immigrant couple down on their luck in New York City, reminiscing and hurling insults at each other, and yet it manages to come to a sweet ending. Which characterizes a lot of fiction I like as well: painful and honest but managing to resolve nicely anyway, without being untrue to the characters.

And the tune is catchy too, especially the chorus. "The boys of the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay / And the bells were ringing out for Christmas day."

Until now I'd somehow missed the sad news that the writer of the song, and female lead singer on it, Kirsty MacColl, died in late 2000, hit by a motorboat while swimming with her two sons.

Btw, it turns out that MacColl was the daughter of folksinger Ewan MacColl, who I think wrote "Shoals of Herring," which is performed by the Clancy Brothers on an album I've been listening to since childhood and was just thinking of the other day. Though this article at says she always hated the notion that she inherited her talent from her father.

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