Where will you be spending Christmas day this year? At home in Shannon with my mother and brother. It’s always been my favourite place to be for Christmas and even more so now since my dad passed away in 2018. Christmas can be a hard time when we lose loved ones but I guess that makes it even more important to be with family and celebrate those missing from the table.
What Christmas song would you happily never hear again and why? This is more of a playing issue rather than a listening one, but I’d have to say Frosty the Snowman. The reason is that a big part of my life as a musician over the last eight years has been being a music in healthcare practitioner. I work with an organisation called MHI (Music and Heath Ireland), formerly called Kids Classics, where we bring music and song out on to the wards and to the bedsides of adults and children all over the country.
We do this all year round but we do pack in a lot of visits, particularly to the children’s hospitals and wards, before, during and after Christmas. I don my now ward-famous plum pudding costume, a real favourite with the nurses. Obviously we are delighted to play any and all Christmas favourites for any child, parent or member of staff but by the time the 24th or 25th rolls around I really want to Thumpity Thump Thump poor ould Frosty! But I love him really.
And favourite song? Well, Christmas Day by some guy called David Hope of course. But I think my favourite would have to be Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis by Tom Waits. It’s a real dark and dingy dirge as only Tom can deliver, I love it!
Best Christmas memory? Serving drinks and waiting tables as an eight-year-old to assembled guests and dignitaries in the Irish embassy in Moscow on Christmas Day 1988, all while wearing my First Holy Communion outfit, including my oh-so-cute green dicky bow and cardigan ensemble.
My dad was the general manager heading up a team from Aer Rianta International, Shannon airport, tasked with opening Moscow’s duty-free shop. He was based in Moscow from spring ‘88 until ‘91, I think. But for Christmas ‘88 my mom, brother, sister and I went over to Moscow. The whole experience was like a fairy tale, to be honest. First time I’d seen proper snow in my life. We went to the Moscow state circus, to Red Square. We saw Swan Lake by the Bolshoi ballet and, of course, met blue Santa for the first time. There was a fantastic group of Irish over there and the Russian team working with them were really lovely people. I’m delighted I remember it all so well. An amazing experience.
Who’s on your naughty list? Obviously Vladimir Putin. What he’s doing to the poor people of Ukraine is horrendous and I sincerely hope this pointless war is ended soon.
Nice list? All the nursing staff and carers in our hospitals and nursing homes around the country. The work they do 365, 24/7 is simply amazing.
Worst and best thing about Christmas? The worst and best things are kinda rolled into one. My better half and I have never spent Christmas Day together as we both like to spend it at home with our respective parents. This has lead to a futuristic FaceTime Christmas presents opening ritual that I really like. We steal away from the festive goings-on in each household with a wee drink and open the presents we got for each other. It sounds sappy but I love it, and we always see each other the next day anyhow.
Who would you invite for Christmas dinner, in terms of famous people? Bill Bailey. He’d be great craic, musically entertaining and generally a very interesting guy to have a chat with, I’d imagine.
Best present? That would be my first acoustic guitar when I was 15. It was life-changing
David Hope’s album ‘…and the Sea’ is available along with all gig information from www.davidhope.ie