Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Big Chill

It’s 1978. December. Snow is falling all around because these are the days before global warming when no-one headed off to school in the morning without a woolly hat with a bobble on the top, gloves connected by a huge long piece of elastic that went up each sleeve of your snorkel jacket and the warm, hazy, protective aura of a Ready-Brek breakfast. (This was a bit like using ‘The Force’ but without the need for lightsabers.)

Boney M are poised to become that year’s Christmas No.1 with their festive rendition of “Something About Mary’s Boy Child” and, despite investing in a pair of high fashion, top-of-the-line grey leather boots with little gold plates around the toes, I’m just about to be “chucked” for the third time by the same girl in the space of about five months. Good times.

During periods of emotional Christmas crisis then, there’s really only one thing a boy can turn his idle hands to in order to release pent up frustration and ease his restless soul… his Rubik’s cube. But since its invention is still another two years away, what he has to make do with instead is endless playing of his two Billy Joel albums and thoughts about who to send Christmas cards to.

I’d obviously shelled out a shed-load of hard-earned paper-round earnings on one of those horrible gaudy “padded” greeting cards for the girl who was just about to dust off her well rehearsed “it’s not you, it’s me…um… well actually it IS you” chucking speech, so I had few pennies left over for cards for other acquaintances; in fact I think I only wrote about half a dozen or so to my closest friends during a particularly boring Latin lesson. Or was it Potions?

Anyway, one of the lucky recipients was my good pal Allan “Big Al - The Kiddies Pal” Hendry and the card design I chose for him was that most festive of scenes – a mouse and a comedy elephant wearing a Santa hat.

“What an astonishingly good memory you must have Neil,” I can hear you exclaim in a rather high-pitched tone of incredulousnessiticity, but the reason I know this for a fact is because here below is the card of which I speak/type.

Allan, in that famous I’m-a-bit-of-a-cheapskate-so-wouldn’t-this-be-funny way of his, decided to send the card back to me the following year after making the necessary amendments to the text inside. Not to be outdone, I kept the card safe and went through the same exercise in December 1980... can you guess how this story ends? This year, after our annual panic stricken text messages about whose turn it is to send, the card dropped through my letter box last week after surviving its 30th annual sending through the Royal Mail.

As you can see, it’s not exactly in the best of health after having suffered at the hands of the business end of a lighted cigarette (that’s a nasty habit Allan!) and being patched up with yellowed sellotape. But we reckon there’s enough space on it for at least another 30 years of seasonal greetings at which point – if we’ve succumbed to the ravages of Whathisname’s Disease – we’ll probably be scrawling something like “To Thingmy, From Me, Happy Easter”.

So while all my faculties are still intact, Happy Christmas Allan and thanks for 30+ very funny years.

And a very Happy Christmas also to anyone reading this and I hope 2008 is peaceful, prosperous and safe for you and your loved ones.

N x


At 28/12/07 1:10 pm, Blogger Donald said...


this is indeed atruely touching story.Who would've thunk that after 30 or so years there would be no noticable signs of maturity - long may it continue.

Has Al given any fashion tips lately?


At 8/1/08 9:05 pm, Blogger Lena said...

I'm a tad late in reading this, Neil, but what a sweet story. All I can say is the girl who chucked you thrice was but a mug! Your heart's obviously in the right place!

Ain't it funny how things like this mean the world to us? If my purse was nicked, it'd be the daft little poems, pictures, ect, that I'd be devastated in losing. Sod the money.


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