Friday, 21 December 2018


Okay, it's that time of the year once again for SANTA CLAUS to raise his bearded head, and provide me with all the excuse I need to indulge in the kind of personal nostalgia which regular Criv-ites always find so enthralling.  (And even if you don't, 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?)  Anyway, 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 plaything, 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

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