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Beautiful Parma: no music here, anywhere.

There is not a name for the precise mixture of rage and musical indigestion I feel when I have to put up with Sainsburys christmas music. When I was in Parma recently, I rejoiced when I realised that with the exception of two excellent buskers,  there was no music in cafés, bars, restaurants, hotels, lobbies; no speakers hidden in bushes, no supermarket muzak, no high frequency drumbeats from other people’s iPods, no overpumped car stereos.

When you can eat, shop, drink and walk down the street with your own thoughts, uninfluenced by someone else’s soundtrack to your life, you know a kind of freedom that has been missing in the UK for years.  Think I’m making it up? Read The Sound of Retail from Retail Traffic Mag, a revealing unreflecting article on the power of music to make people believe, understand and identify with the shop they’re in.  They’re after you with the insidious power of music, because you can’t escape it.

What’s this got to do with Let It Snow? Well, the only thing that gets me through the torment of Sainsburys, apart from being served by the friendly teenagers who are probably headed for firsts in computer science and law, is the knowledge that Let it snow is not a Christmas song. It was written by two Jewish songwriters in July 1945, on one of the hottest days on record. When I hear it now, I can finally relax as I hear the irony in the words, rather than get all hot under the collar about the fact that Sainsburys think it will make me shop harder.

But if you want pictures of snow, visit my Tooting snow gallery.

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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist