All that crazy music from the 1970s!
Fond Memories of Christmas
Christmas in the 70s, what was that like? Pretty different from today, since there was no internet, no home computers and no mobile phones. But there was Tressy and "Her Hair Grows". Tressy was the bitch rival of the Sindy Doll and was relentlessly advertised on TV at all times of the day and night. Tressy had massive tits but no nipples and came complete with an ugly plastic screw in her back to enable the unfortunate owner to vary the length of her hair. My adolescent brain figured that it would be much more interesting if that worked for the pubes instead! For some reason my friend Nigel actually owned one of these dolls and we marveled over the mechanism but were really frustrated by the lack of anatomical detail.
Back to the plot. Christmas in the 70s. Think big family gatherings, catering experiments urged on by Fanny Cradock, a glass of sickly sweet sherry and the inevitable arrival of GRANDMA. Our Grandma was a rotund ex teacher with very strong views on religion and well, in fact most things really. She would descend with her sister for a week or two and turned the usual well ordered household into chaos. They would arrive from Brighton complete with a small home made Christmas Pudding, that would require boiling for two days before it was edible, and a box of mince pies. My Dad would lick his lips at the very sight of the mince pie box and every year would pronounce without fail "ooooh Aunt Ada's mince pies just melt in your mouth". I found that they tended to stick to inside of your mouth like putty, but then nobody listened to small boys during Christmas in the 70s!
My parents still carried on with the routine of filling a pillow case with presents for my sister and I, but by this age we had to wait until lunchtime to open them. We still got given mostly "useful" things like cotton hankies and several 1971 plastic covered diaries. The timing of the lunch was critical since at the front end we had to fit in being carted off to church and afterwards, at 3pm, there was the Queen's Speech. That left a small window of opportunity in the middle in which we could eat. My Mum fretted over the timing but always got it right without fail. Most years we had chicken, which my Dad hated and always pronounced that it was "dry". Turkey made a brief appearance for a couple of years but was also found to be "dry". At that age I found most food, apart from liver, appetizing and so didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about. Of course it came complete with stuffing, bread sauce, chestnut stuffing and cranberry sauce - all of which I found more interesting than the actual bird itself! After the roast we had the glue like mince pies and the rubber tyre masquerading as Christmas Pudding. Once or twice my Dad had tried to cover it with brandy but it always failed to light, probably because I had been secretly sipping the brandy from time to time and topping the bottle up with water!
Everything has to be cleared away in a hurry so that we could all sit round the TV and marvel at the Queen's Speech during which nobody (even Grandma) was allowed to utter a word. Eventually, by the time the National Anthem was being played at the end, the "dry" chicken would start to reek it's revenge and somebody would be forced to release the first of many farts. The first person to break wind was of course scolded soundly, but soon everybody would be parping to their heart's content and the green haze of Brussels would fill the lounge. Probably as a result of being gassed, most of the older generation would soon slump into their chairs and snore their heads off for an hour or so. This would give me time to sneak off up to my room and eat the box of Licorice Allsorts and the bar of Kendal Mint Cake that I was always given. Bugger me, that must be around 1500 calories of sweets!
Once the oldies resurfaced then Grandma would watch The Sound of Music on TV while I usually helped my Mum prepare the buffet meal we usually had in the evening. Christmas in the 70s was certainly predictable. Always The Sound of Music or Chitti Chitti Bang Bang in the afternoon, and The Guns of Naverone or The Great Escape in the evening. I loved helping to make the buffet since it contained a huge variety of both sweet and savory foods as well as slices of the much despised "dry" chicken. My Grandpa had spent time in Turkey and Egypt during the First World War and had come back with a taste for some exotic foods. This surfaced at Christmas when my Mum always made dates stuffed with marzipan for him..and in later years I would help, mostly by eating the left over’s! If we were lucky we were allowed to see the Christmas Edition of Top of the Pops. My Dad always had to be in the room to check the music for suitability. But I am sure his main reason was so that he could secretly observe Pan's People if he squinted carefully over the top of his newspaper. In-between times he would chime in with a running commentary on the length of the men’s hair..."look at that bloody idiot"!! None of us knew what Jimmy Saville was up to in those days but Top of the Pops was certainly a haven for pervers with plenty of low camera angles affording frequent glimpses of white knickers. My Mum would pop in and out to make sure we had not actually come to blows arguing over hair length and the "terrible noise". However, if she as much as caught a glimpse of Jimmy Hendrix though she would stand in front of the TV set and chirp "Turn that horrible black man off now". And so ended Christmas Day!
Having lived through Christmas in the 70s it is little wonder that I grew up with long hair and a love of music by Jimmy Hendrix. My favorite film is The Great Escape and my favorite food is dates stuffed with marzipan!