Balham Woolworth’s was the only place worthy of buying Christmas decorations from when I was growing up in the sixties.
The choice was a pack of lick-it-yourself paper chains and, well, that was it really, unless you count baubles for Christmas trees made out of material which would decompose before Twelfth Night.
Nowadays houses are decorated with lights brighter than ones used at Colditz and festooned with various Christmas-related mammals on rooftops – Reindeer, Snowmen, Father Christmases or, if you lived near pagan arsonists, Wicker Men. These decorations are in evidence shortly after Easter or, at worst, after the clocks have gone back – thus taking full advantage of the darker nights.
In the sixties, my task was to stick the paper chain paper together. It was probably the only colourful thing in our flat, unless you include the yellow ceiling courtesy of mum and dad’s JPS and Senior Services respectively. Thankfully I wasn’t colour blind, so the lead up to Christmas (or Advent as Latin speakers call it) was like Joseph and his limited-coloured dream coat. Only primary colours were used with these aforementioned paper chains. But what you did get, and only for Christmas, was dehydration. Even though we were only in a small flat, to create a chain going from the four corners of the lounge, took a lot of licking. I’d have been more hydrated if I’ve polished off a packet of Jacob’s Crackers.
We did have a nice tree though, although neither parent got the timing of the flashing lights right and when anyone visited they’d be handed a card saying: “this lounge features strobe-lighting”. The speed varied between the North Foreland Lighthouse to a club in Ayia Napa!
Wonder if Chris Rea’s set off yet?