Tuesday, December 18, 2012

1973: All that we've been through

From as far back as I can remember until 1981, this is how it went at Christmas:

Either one or both grannies over on Christmas Eve.

Pick Auntie Maggie up in the morning.

Mum's sister, her husband, their kids (my cousins) to us for lunch.

They go home about 3pm.

All over to theirs for the evening.

All over to theirs the following day for their traditional Boxing day drinks party.

On paper, that sounds dull as ditchwater, doesn't it? But I loved it. I still love the memory of it. We're all scattered to the four winds now, if we're still with us, and those memories get more treasured as the years go by.

So let's take 1973.

Christmas Eve was cosy. By day it's exciting festive morning kids' TV, a light lunch, an afternoon of fetching grandma while DLT plays Marshmallow World. At home, it's low lights, gran having had her hair done, baked ham, tree lights sparkling, that present pile growing, something Christmassy on the telly.

Picking up Auntie Maggie (see 1974:  Your arms around me are tender and warm) involved a trip to the neighbouring bigger town to her warden-assisted flatlet which was plonked in the middle of a quiet yet monstrously ugly council estate, where every other bedroom window had a tartan scarf hanging across it with Woody, Les or Eric emblazoned on it. And it was always bright yet cold.

Christmas day proper started with Dad having to be restrained from waking everyone up. Clearly even more excited than we were, he was like a puppy. We'd be up about 6.30, always do openings in my room and as soon as the paper was off it would be spirited into a binbag immediately. There was no question of luxuriating in festive garbage for a while, just to enjoy the moment. And this was at Dad's behest too.

It would be bacon sandwiches for breakfast, then Leslie Crowther going round the children's ward in the living room (I couldn't really watch), something festive on Radio 2 in the kitchen, perhaps Two-Way Family Favourites, as lunch was prepared. Mum was (still is) a wonderful cook, as was her mother, and the two of them would have it all sorted and on the table by one o'clock.

This timing was always an issue for some of us, because it clashed with Top Of The Pops. This was especially an annoyance for my cousins, aged 13 and 16 in 1973, though the older one would never admit to liking anything so uncool. He liked Yes and Jethro Tull, had long hair, acne and sulked because he was made to wear a suit. We watched over our shoulders. Who could forget Gary Glitter being wheeled in in a giant silver heart?

We always had to be supersmart on Christmas Day. Perhaps, now like dressing up to go to the pub, it's a tradition that's died out.

The other side of the family usually arrived about 11, co-inciding with whoever was bringing 'The Maggie', as gran non-affectionately called her. Then it was sherries all round, Cheeslets, Twiglets, but no filling up before lunchtime.

There was a lot of a laughter, often at Auntie Maggie's expense, mainly because she could be an utter misery, then lots of falling asleep with paper hats on in front of the Bond film.

That quiet time while adults slept and dusk crept in, was the time to be upstairs reviewing that year's gifts. I remember 1973 being a bumper year: Mousetrap, a brilliant magic set and Haunted House, as well as one of those Top Of The Pops LPs.

I shan't go on. You get the picture.

I'm signing off for Christmas now, so may yours be as wonderful as mine were, and hopefully will be again. Thanks for your loyal support, it's much appreciated, wherever you are and - in some cases - whoever you are.

See you on the other side.


  1. I'm with you. 'Till next year then ....

  2. Ours weren't quite as full of rush and bustle - generally dad's mum over on the day. Red Martini out at 10, this album on shortly after. Dad having his annual drink (Cointreau and Lemonade) and always presents early - never after lunch....

    In the afternoon - my pal Dave Williams would wander over the from flat opposite, for all the present news..

    1973's haul would have included whatchamacallit still a fave. This annual - also and.

    Have a rocking one Jon and hope to catch up with you in the new year

  3. All so familiar. Were you permitted an annual Snowball, like I was? And I seem to remember an obligatory half hour in the morning would be devoted to watching Laurel and Hardy.

    Hope you have another good one this year, wherever you are and whatever you're doing. Thanks for some truly entertaining blog posts and shared memories. Like Mondo, hope to catch up with you in the New Year.


  4. Nicely nostalgic. Have a funky festive season this year.

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