Ward’s World: It’s that most wonderful time ... by John Ward

John  Ward with his own take on Christmas.
John Ward with his own take on Christmas.
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It’s been in a lot of the newspapers recently, so you may have noted that Christmas is still happening in December this year unless unexpected road-works happen.

It must be the times - other newspapers are available in fairness - but it seems that the Christmas ‘season’ starts about July time nowadays as the ‘festive stuff’ starts to appear or dusted down from the last session in one instance I came across recently.

In shops, markets and on-line, in fact anywhere coin of the realm is welcome and range from the down right naff to wonders of the age.

One traditional festive item is the ‘snow globe’, the liquid filled bauble that you shake and ‘snow’ appears to fall inside the globe that has something seasonal within like Santa on his sleigh, reindeer or a snowman with a carrot for a nose etc.

However recently I noted it would seem production in the Far East (where else?) was swiftly changed at the last minute as I swear the ‘Santa’ inside the globe looked amazingly like a Beefeater as seen at the Tower of London. Assuming that apart from the added beard and being covered in red all over with white trimming added with a loo brush judging by the finish, this could well have been on the ‘Souvenir of London’ stand in the capital that is, well, London.

Next up for our consideration but cheaper on the wallet and the purse are the Christmas greeting cards or crimbo cards as my mum used to call them being on sale rather early as in June would you believe, obviously to avoid any last minute panic buying no doubt being the motivation.

I did say earlier (at the beginning of the last paragraph to save you stretching your neck) cheaper as it’s interesting to note you can buy a box of ‘10 luxury cards and envelopes’ for seventy five pence but if you posted them via the recognised postal method it will cost you £6 40 to do so using first class mail or £5-50 using second class mail based on current prices and for the box of ten in each case.

‘10 luxury cards and envelopes’ for seventy five pence? - it does make you wonder how much the bog standard ones from the Everyday Basic Essentials range cost and what they could possibly look like and if available in roll form so that if they were not all used to send, perhaps being utilised in the ‘small room’ at some stage.

You can of course buy or indeed purchase if you so desire, even better-er cards to impress those you consider important enough to send to as you enter the realms of the Hyacinth Bucket world as portrayed on TV’s ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ sit-com.

I know of folk that could put her antics to shame in the quest to appear rather sooper dooper in the social stakes and keeping up from those living on basic rations beneath the social veneer as they deem ‘image is all’ in their minds.

One instance of years gone by, my mum’s very own Hyacinth friend hired a chap in a footman’s outfit who personally delivered Christmas cards a week before the event to impress, and also to remind those who had not sent a card so far to ‘er ladyship to get their act together mucho pronto and to do so without further delay.

Mum was startled as she opened the front door to see a chap stood there in red tunic, white wig and breeches etc. with a silver salver with her card on addressed to her. Mum’s response was as expected: “Wrong house I think, sunshine - that Cinderella girl lives five doors down – often hear her mum holler out she has to be home before midnight..” but it was duly explained to her that the card was for her and it was from her very own ‘out-to-impress’ friend or her equivalent of what we know now as being a ‘Hyacinth’ figure.

Another event that used to happen before the ‘season of good will’ was a visit on the doorstep from her dustman or later titled Refuse Disposal Operative, who called in the evening time to doff his cap and wish everybody “The condiments of the season” on one occasion.

This was not lost on mum as she told him to wait a moment as she left him at the doorstep and popped back indoors, then went back and presented him with a packet of salt and box of pepper and wished him too ‘The condiments of the season’ and as he looked with jaw dropped she added: “Sorry but we don’t have any mustard, if that’s what you are thinking..”

Another ‘festive’ event is the big box or tub of well known chocolate favourites which over the years seems to be stricken with all the symptoms of shrunken head sickness as the boxes, tubs or as we knew them, big round tins have decreased in size although the cost has remained quite buoyant or unchanged despite the shortages within.

I still have an old tin that had a well known brand of these seasonal choccies in that I keep odd spanners, wrenches and such like in but I note with its modern day equivalent, I might just about get a tin opener and a screwdriver in at a push.

Another festive line was the tin or of late, the plastic or cardboard box at a push, selection of biscuits and one in particular caused amusement in one shop - yes, my usual reader may well be streets ahead by now - as my mum was buying some of her festive bits and bobs early to avoid any possible stampede later on.

She was rambling through her list with the shopkeeper and as she ticked them off on the said list, she looked up and asked if he had got a box of those ‘rusty car biscuits’ and the look on the poor chaps face was a painting as he inquired as to what she was on about. After a bit of verbal trial and error, she was referring to a box of Rover brand biscuits - are these still available nowadays?. She called them that as where she lived, there were many cars of this make that were afflicted with this malady hence her calling them that.

Not a day passes without constant reminders of the assorted televisions now on sale that are vying for our cash that boast oh so many things, features and sadly as I have pointed out many a time, the only thing they don’t come with is something decent or worthwhile to watch. I think the programme providers think we all have low attention span as a lot of same programmes are repeated within the hour, the next day and the day after. I did spot a well priced television set, hard to beat price, with remote control like granddad’s best Sunday shirt in that it has a full set of buttons but I have no idea as to what half of them do or more to the point, would I ever use them?.

Thankfully the ‘festive season’ is only here for six months.