So Christmas has arrived doesn’t seem the same since my Mum died 8 years ago but so far it has been good. Met my Christmas Eve friends, this year we had a change and met at the Globe and Engine (Taste of Portugal). You may ask what is the Christmas Eve Club? it is a group of friends who have met every Christmas Eve since 1966. The Group is Martin and Norman Clarke, Keith Jacobs, Trevor Waghorn, John Elmer, Keith Whyman and Trevor Jordon.
Our first meeting was at The Beauty of Bath most of us were only 16 but the landlord Harry Palmer would allow us in as long as we only drunk very weak beer, which in those days thing like mild was only about 2.5%. Although we were breaking the law, the landlord had a sensible attitude to drink and if my memory serves me right none of us drunk spirits, till much later in life mind you we could not afford it anyway. Things were different then all of us had been working since we were 15 and because we were with men we matured some what quicker then the youth of today, plus being on the dole was a disgrace but then there was full employment and to been seen being drunk, shouting etc. was just not on because it would bring the family into disrepute. As we got older we got louder and let the demon drink take over, we would sing carols with great gusto but in those days the pubs would shut at 3pm and we would stagger home. My mother being German would celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve so my brother and myself would go home to 6 course meal and presents, as years went by the opening hours were longer and we would get home about 5.30pm always intoxicated but never that bad that we could not enjoy the meal. Yet my mum never once moaned about us drinking in fact she would say “I love it when my boys enjoy themselves” By 10 pm I would be a sleep in the chair with in 10 minutes Val (her indoors) would say time to go home and then that would mean getting my three kids together and walking home. Eventually Val passed her test and she could drive me home, in fact her driving was quite handy because she would pick me from the Pub and any of the Christmas Eve Club who did not have a lift.
On one occasion in the 1970’s I remember a few of us walking home after our Christmas Eve bash and nearly carrying a member, when we got to his house we propped him at the door rung the bell and ran of. None of us wanted to face the wroth of his wife, they have since divorced a couple of years later! He is now in his 60’s has been courting another lady for 2 years which he has kept secret from me, I suggested meeting her he replied that’s exactly why I never told you about her. What can he mean?
What I most enjoy most about my annual get together is that these are real friends people who have known each other since childhood and there is no pretence when we are to together, no showing off or trying to out do each other you can be yourself. Spending most of my life with Judo and Sombo players you soon learn that they are worse then fisherman for expanding the truth and I expect I am just as bad. Lets be honest a story or report of what you have done is always better when you embroider the truth.
The English are known for their banter and gallows humour and I am known for this but sometimes I have be very careful because not everyone understands it and some people get offended. On one occasion I was at International Competition and the British Team were taking the p**s out of each other or should I say micky taking when one of the US team whispered in my ear and said “don’t you like theses guys?” I said, “of course I like them” he looked dumfounded. The CEC are so used to me no matter what I say they never get offended, mind you I get back as good as I give. Thank God none of us are PC and thank God the Thought Police were not in the Pub.
I am old fashioned in that I do not believe in swearing in front of women or children or writing swear words, sometimes the latter needs to be done but then I never put the full word and put in asterisk. Yet when I am with men I am the worst offender, any rate one of my grandsons Harry was in the pub sitting with us but I forgot he was there and I used a very Anglo Saxon swear word. He rounded on me saying “Grandad you do realise I am here, should you be saying that word” I apologised then told him to go home mouthy little git.
What women do not understand is that when men get together and have a few sherbets’ time seems to stop still, so being late is not a deliberate thing. On one Christmas Dinner I decide to go up the Pub for a drink and promised to be home for dinner at 1pm. Well at 12.50 a group of friends walked in bought me a drink and before I knew it was 2pm and the only reason I knew that was when my mother walked in, telling that I better get home as my good lady wife was in a bit of a mood, knew this was serious as mum was not a regular to a Pub. When I got home I opened the door and started my excuses but to late she got my Christmas Dinner and threw it in the bin as you can imagine that was a really great Christmas plus all that sexy under wear I bought her went to waste. Lessoned learnt it has never happened since.
So back to this Christmas Eve I said to one of the customers the first one in will be my oldest friend John Elmer, we starting at school together at the age of 5 and were in the same class together till we left. The pair of us do live in each other pockets but keep in touch via email, in fact we see each other most probably once a year, I liked to call him the silver fox because of his shock of Grey hair. Well I did call him that till I saw all the others walk in with the same colour hair. Trevor Jordan and Keith Whyman I see a couple of times a years as we CEC bar b q and we also had a nice evening around Keith house. Wags I used to see a lot because of his involvement with Judo but not so much now a days as he has retired from Judo Refereeing but as a good friend he is to come back for one last gig when I run an event in March. Jaycee I see once a year but listen to his daughter music on YouTube she is a very talented musician. Brother Norman see on regular basis, he will be round for Christmas Dinner
Every Christmas Eve meeting with my friends I feel twenty again and because three of then still have one of their parents alive there is still that link to your childhood John’s Mother is 97. When they have all gone I may feel different. Had a great time Christmas Eve stuck to just Gin and Tonic of which I had copious amounts, got to the Pub at 12.30pm and left at 9pm left merry but not drunk? Do not know what it is about Christmas Eve I never wake up on Christmas morning with a hang over as someone who normally suffers with them that is a record.
So another year gone by cannot say I enjoy the passing of time but will always look forward to Christmas Eve
Happy and Prosperous New Year