The run up to Christmas in 1988 was a golden time for music. Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan were winning the nation’s hearts with Especially For You and the Christmas number one was bagged by Cliff Richard’s Mistletoe & Wine. However, ranking at #53, the thinking man’s Christmas single, Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas was to prove the year’s most enduring hit.
Inspired by a drive from London to Middlesbrough in the run up to Christmas, Chris Rea’s seasonal classic has not only become one of our favourite Christmas singles, but it also looks at several key aspects of the dreaded Christmas drive which still resonate today.
‘Driving home for Christmas, oh I can’t wait to see those faces’. For many, the Christmas drive is a necessary evil that will begin the year’s festivities. But what should be a joyful occasion is all too often fraught with anxiety and stress. ‘Top to toe in tail lights’, Chris sings, ‘I got red lights on the run’. Every year, Christmas sees an increase in drivers on the road, drink driving and accidents. In 2011, the Press Association reported that 56,000 drivers were expected to be involved in accidents over the four days around Christmas, with Christmas Eve being the most dangerous day. With icy conditions and more cars on the road, it is vital to stay safe.
However, there is no need to be put off by these figures. Chris has absolute confidence he will reach his destination, ‘It’s going to take some time, but I’ll get there’ and, remembering a few key rules, we should share his sentiment. It’s worth giving your car a quick once over at the garage before long drives and simple steps such as installing winter tyres are a great way to combat wintry conditions. Ensuring your car insurance is up to date may not be your number one priority over Christmas but is a legal requirement so shouldn’t be forgotten!
Drink driving is a recurring problem over Christmas and is definitely something you should be aware of when on the roads. In its tips on staying safe over Christmas, car insurer swiftcover.com urges drivers to remind themselves of the drink limit for driving – 80mg of alcohol per 100mg of blood. Better still, don’t drink at all. It’s not worth spoiling your Christmas and endangering lives for one last drink!
With road safety taken care of, it’s also important to make your Christmas drive as enjoyable as possible. Chris tells us that ‘I sing this song to pass the time away’. By all means, engage in a family singalong, maybe even using Driving Home for Christmas as a starting point. If singing isn’t your thing, then books, iPads and games are all great ways to keep children entertained. Food supplies and regular breaks are also important in making sure everyone is physically and mentally relaxed for the long journey ahead.
It may not be your favourite part of Christmas, but the drive home shouldn’t be cause for despair. With more cars and harsher winter conditions than in 1988, there is all the more reason to be aware of the dangers and stay safe. But, following a few tips, the only thing you will have to worry about is packing the presents. And if you’re stuck in traffic, put Driving Home for Christmas on the stereo and the time will fly by!