The year is 1969 and it is December 24th , The black and white television in the front room is playing old movies from the bygone era of Christmas. As a six year old child I am so excited because soon it will be Christmas. The temperature outside is a balmy minus 4 and I have been playing outside with my brother in my old beaten up red and white mini pedal car albeit covered in snow. I was probably re enacting " " " The Italian Job " Dressed up to the nines in double layer underwear , vest , shirt , with one of those very warm woolly jumpers and my absolute mega favourite item in the world my Navy Blue Duffle coat . The coat that took me from minus 4 degrees Celsius to 44 degrees Celsius in 4 layers. It was my prized possession. Another layer down was my mittens which were welded on prior to use and I could never get them off. As England is closer to the North Pole and at times I think it was part of it Christmas was a time of madness and mayhem and absolute excitement.
There was the usual hustle and bustles in the big shops of Manchester. A real treat for us was to catch the red double Decker bus in to the City and visit the big shops to see our favourite person Santa Claus. To me he was my meal ticket to something special that year . I was never spoilt by any means but negotiating from an early age I would always have a lot to talk about. My poor younger brother, who was a little more introverted than I was, usually got the last minute to ask what he wanted. But I always made representation for him in my discussion with Santa about what the Darbyshire boys wanted to at that age it was more like " I need this ", "I want this " or " I have to have this "
Mean while back at our home which was the typical semi detached coronation street type house in the coronation street type street complete with all the characters in the show. Christmas eve was filled with lots of treats all day long . the record player played old Christmas carols . Yes record player, the type with a needle and black disks . It was probably the only time I did not hear the Beatles being played on it or Cilia black a famous singer in her day sort of a younger version of Susan Boyle.
In the evening after being ladened up with sugar from the day we would crash. After our tea as we called it there, we would sit by our fire in our front room (Family room) and peer through our frost and iced up window and gaze up to the heavens to We would usually put our tongues on the window and see how long before we part of the window became permanently. But more often we would gaze excitedly in to the night sky to try and sneak a peek of Santa and his reindeers lighting up the sky.
Our parents would always tell us if he saw us before time we may not receive. Our chimney was centre stage prepared for his arrival. I would make sure there was a clear path there and the fire would be out.. The other crucial thing which has carried on in my life here too was to make sure ample refreshments were left for him back in the day it was probably a Pint of stout or glass of Brandy or something like that and of course biscuits . My favourite ones were the chocolate finger biscuits if there were any left . Our Christmas tree was a real one which was placed somewhere prominent with room cleared for any thing large. So When I negotiated large items with Santa I would have to factor in how he would get them down the chimney..
Finally as this little sleepy head went up stairs to bed with his little brother time stood still for a moment in my mind as I thought how lucky I was. Well may be I thought that . I hoped that I had been good because my grand mother said to me if I was naughty through the year I would receive a bag of coal. So I said a lot of prayers that night just in case I had been naughty. I even said one for my brother just in case he missed one out. And as I slept I dreamt of may be sneaking a peek of Santa and bringing all those presents for me and my little brother... And tried very hard to sleep under the 300 blankets we had on our beds to keep us warm. I could not understand why Christmas eve always took so long but eventually falling asleep un aware of Santa's visit to my family home. I am sure one Christmas though I heard a few ho ho ho's but hey I wouldn't admit to that now would I???