Tuesday, 2 June 2015


Okay, I'll admit it's a little early for SANTA CLAUS to be
raising his bearded head, but there's a reason for this post.  Not a
great one, admittedly, but any excuse to indulge in a bit of personal
nostalgia is always good enough for me.  Anyway, you got in here
for free so you'll take what you get and be thankful for it.  (Don't
you just love it when I'm masterful?)  Here's the story.

Back in the '60s, after school one day, a classmate by the
name of RAYMOND BENNIE (may even have been Benny,
can't remember) invited me back to his house.  During my visit,
I noticed a stuffed Santa figure, which was probably a cat's play-
thing, although that never occurred to me until many years later.
Raymond kindly said I could have it, and so little Santa came
back home to live with me.

He immediately fell victim to terrible abuse, as me and
my brother utilised him to play 'dodge ball'.  I'd kneel on my
bed and try and hit my bruv with Santa by throwing him across
the room at my ducking and diving sibling.  Then he'd return fire
from his bed, chucking Santa back at me as I tried to avoid being
hit.  Eventually, SC became a bit loose around the seams, so I
undid his stitching and took him apart, intending to sew him
back together again and tighten and tidy him up a bit.

Alas, it never happened, and eventually poor old 'cotton
wool' Santa suffered, I assume, the fate of most things in a
state of disrepair, and was unceremoniously discarded without
even  a thanks for the moments of enjoyment he had afforded me
and my older relation.  I think I still had his pieces when I spied
his twin in a back garden across from the house of one of my
mother's  friends whom we were visiting one day in 1968
or '69.  (Early '70 at a push.)

I'd just acquired my second QUERCETTI FIREBALL
XL5 parachute toy from a superb shop in Rutherglen, called
JOHNNY'S, and it had overshot it into a neighbour's garden as
I played with it in the backyard of my mother's friend.  As I went
to retrieve it, I noticed the double of my stuffed Santa lying on
the neighbour's back lawn.  It did occur to me for a second
to 'liberate' him, but my virtuous nature won out.

Anyway, I've never again seen another duplicate of that
Santa since then, but several years back I bought the one in
the picture at the top of this post, merely to 'fill the space', as
it were.  Apart from the fact that it's a Santa Claus, he's really
nothing like the one I used to have back in the '60s - but he
reminds me of him, if you know what I mean.

I sometimes wonder if Raymond Bennie, who emigrated
down under with his family in the late '60s, ever thinks back to
the stuffed Santa Claus that he (or his cat if he had one) used to
have once upon a time when we were both young and innocent
and thought we had forever.  And does he recall giving him
to me - or even remember my name?  Probably not.

I occasionally think of Raymond and wonder what he's
doing now.  More often, however, I think of that Santa and
wish he were still mine.  There are two other Santas I wish I
still had - maybe I'll tell you about them one day, too.

Merry Christmas when it comes. Ho ho ho!

Raymond Bennie in July 1967


Arfon Jones said...

Lovely story! I have a SC tree decoration that I believe is from the 60’s it once belonged to my great grandmother. When she died SC was added it to our tree decorations, and then 14 years ago when my mother decided to colour co-ordinate her tree it became mine. Unfortunately these days he tends to be ‘hidden’ from sight when we decorate the tree as he “creeps” Mrs Jones out somewhat, well I say hidden I can always see him perfectly from my chair ;) Merry Christmas!

Kid said...

Funny how some of us never want to 'let go', isn't it, AJ? My Christmas tree is older than me, and there are a few decorations from the '60s that adorn it every year. Ho ho ho!

Arfon Jones said...

Kindred spirits sir, we really are. We had a new tree last year I was very reluctant to get it as we had the other for 11 years (bought it when my daughter was 1 and ‘aware’ of Christmas trees). The simple fact was it was too big for the room and I was told that it was silly to have to look around a Christmas tree in order to see the TV… But the sentiments are all on or around the tree, each year I add one toy (trying to keep it Victorian themed) along with decorations that once belonged to various relatives or given to me as gifts. Mrs Jones and I would exchange a tree decoration each so each one has some sentiment or story or meaning behind them (including the star) I do believe you have inspired a future blog post sir…

Kid said...

Did you throw the old tree out, AJ, or store it away somewhere? I find it difficult to throw anything out, and usually tuck things away in a cupboard or the loft. I'll look forward to reading that post.

Arfon Jones said...

Option 2 sir, stored away. like I said, kindred spirits :) very little gets thrown out! I found an old trunk in the tip about 5 years back that I stored the tree in, the tree was put away January 2014 and never opened again... The trunck is still in storage with one emergency Christmas tree stored inside as and when we need it! Most things are stored because it could either be made into something else or it ‘inspires’

Kid said...

When you're putting up the new tree in December, remember to open the trunk and say hello to the old one. Just so it knows that you haven't forgotten it. Every Christmas, I put up several trees of various sizes and shades around the house simply because I don't want to neglect any of them. Sad, ain't I?

Arfon Jones said...

Nah, you just like Christmas (either way is fine in my book) :)

Kid said...

Good lad.

Colin Jones said...

They are talking about Christmas on Bronze Age Babies too !! Only about 200 shopping days left - the excitement is almost unbearable !

Kid said...

Only 6 months and a bit to go, CJ. Won't be long now. Incidentally, when Raymond gave me that stuffed Santa, it was nowhere near Christmas that I remember. Not that I think you're interested, but I just had to record that fact somewhere.

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