Perhaps I had ambitions to be an MP - or an undertaker!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Christmas in the 1930s was very different from the Christmases of today.

In Scotland Christmas Day was just like any other working day, with offices, shops and factories open as usual. Hogmanay and the New Year were much more important, New Year’s Day being a general holiday.

I believe that there was midnight Mass in most Catholic churches on Christmas Eve, but the other churches didn’t have any services, either then or on Christmas Day.

We children of course became very excited as the big day drew near. I remember that the living room in our tenement house looked wonderful, with paper decorations round the walls and across the ceiling. I mentioned in a earlier blog that my sister Rita doesn’t think we got many presents. I seem to remember that we did, but memory can play tricks and I may be thinking of one particular Christmas.

Each year we went to the Sunday School party where we played the usual games and Santa Claus handed out gifts to us all. I don’t think people had Christmas trees in their homes in those days, but there was always a beautifully-decorated tree at the party.

Our parents usually took us to Glasgow to see Santa Claus in a big store. On one occasion we were passing through a number of corridors lined with toys and novelties, when we came across a huge teddy bear, taller than an adult. As we passed it, our father shook its paw and said “How d’you do?” Its head fell off and rolled along the floor. We left it where it was, and hurried into the next corridor!

On the Sunday nearest Christmas Day, we sang the usual Christmas hymns in church, but there was no tree and no decorations.

It wasn’t till the late 1940s that Scotland began to make more of Christmas. Perhaps the change was due to our servicemen coming back to civvy street, having experienced how Christmas was celebrated elsewhere. This was certainly the case in our church when the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols was introduced, but I think it was some time later that services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were begun. I remember one local minister telling me that he went to bed at ten every night, and he had no intention of changing his routine!


Thanks to for this topical image


I was surprised to see that Edmundo Ros, the Latin-American band leader, celebrates his 100th birthday this month.

Born in Trinidad, he moved to Venezuela where he joined the army as a musician. After demob, he became a member of the Venezuelan Symphony Orchestra where he played tympani. He came to London in 1937 to further his classical career, but the attraction of popular dance music was too strong. He was drummer/vocalist with Don Marino Barreto’s Band, before forming his own 5-piece rumba band.

The group was an instant success, and they became resident at London’s Bagatelle Restaurant, the famous venue popular with members of the Royal Family. In 1951 he bought the Coconut Grove, named it “The Edmundo Ros Dinner and Supper Club” and it’s said that only people whose names were in “Who’s Who” were allowed admission.

He retired in 1975 and moved to Spain. In 2000 New Year’s Honours List he was awarded the O.B.E.

This is one of his great singles - a lovely arrangement of Melodie d’Amour. As always with Edmundo’s vocal, every word is clear.


Tomorrow on A TOUCH OF CULTURE - Poetry to make you smile


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