In December, during the ‘60s, in my Balham primary school, there would be a temporary post box put in the playground.
Its use was for pupils to put our Christmas cards into, It was purely for our fellow pupils – although some didn’t realise this and those with relatives in far-away countries were quite disappointed that Auntie Gladys in Brisbane would moan she’d not received a single card for years.
The cards would be delivered; unless you had siblings at the school, you tended to get twenty-nine cards – from your fellow classmates.
I realised, after I’d finished full-time education, that you only tended to know your actual classmates, apart from the boys’ names announced at the Monday morning assembly announcing anyone with any sporting prowess or were (yet again) on detention.
Receiving so many cards was great, the problem was was that twenty-nine also had to be written. I got very bored signing everyone “Happy Christmas, Mick” and so mixed my signature up with people I’d seen on TV or were sporting heroes. I’d sign many as “John Drake” or “Amos Burke”; many girls in my class would wonder who Gerd Müller was, and several boys would get excited thinking they’d got a card from Nancy Sinatra or Mandy Rice-Davies.
This Christmas I shall be confusing friends and family with my Christmas signature of “Be lucky, Pol Pot”. Confusing as a. he’s dead and b. wasn’t terribly Christian. You certainly wouldn’t have wanted to sit on his knee, let alone enter his grotto. Be lucky, Mick.