Shane MacGowan displayed his ''female side'' when writing 'Fairytale of New York'.

The singer worked on the words for The Pogues Christmas hit - about a down-on-their-luck couple arguing - for two years, and can see elements of himself in both characters.

He told The Sun newspaper: ''I identified with the man because I was a hustler. And I identified with the woman, because I was a heavy drinker and a singer.

''I have also been in hospitals, on morphine drips, and I have been in drunk tanks on Christmas Eve. But I think I was really finding my female side when I wrote that song. It was my slushy ballad period!''

Shane is often credited with writing the song, but he is quick to point out it was a team effort between himself and bandmate Jem Finer, and that the rest of the band and guest singer Kirsty Maccoll all played a huge part in realising the final song.

He added: ''It is not down to me. I just did my best with it and I think it's a great record, but I am definitely not the only person responsible for that. The band played really well and Kirsty did an incredible vocal.

''I also think a lot of people identify with the main characters being down on their luck and remembering better days and dreams they once had.''

'Fairytale of New York' has also topped a list by the Performing Rights Society (PRS) - who collect airplay royalties on behalf of artists in the UK - of the most played Christmas tracks. Following closely behind it are Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas is You' at number two and Band Aid's 'Do They Know its Christmas?' at three.