The Story of Heyford (Extra): Dear Diary – December 1959

December 1959

Dear Diary,

This year has been special to me because I went on a school trip to Germany for 10 days. I didn’t think I’d be able to go as it cost £20 but mum, bless her, got a job in the kitchens on the M1 building site where the offices are, so that she could pay £1 a week. I saved the £6 pocket money we were allowed to take by running errands for Mrs. Davis at The Olde Sun over to Sid Capel’s butchers shop. There were 12 Marks to the Pound so we had to work out roughly how much things cost. We had to take extra clothes including spare shoes, 2 handkerchiefs and a full change of underwear. I bought a 12 film for my Brownie camera. We stayed in Boppard on The Rhine, visiting several interesting places including Cologne Cathedral where I have a photo of me and Jane at the top with a view of The Rhine. I’ll never forget this wonderful experience.

Christmas is nearly here and the girls in my class each made a Christmas cake at school, a picture of which was in the Chronicle & Echo. This year I have some money to buy my own presents so I’m meeting my friend Janet in town on Saturday to shop. We’ll start at Woolworths I think. Mum and Dad are planning an evening at the pub because they are open until 11 o’clock, half hour more than other nights so I shall write out my Christmas cards and wrap my presents when I get home. I hope we’ve got plenty of brown paper and string.

On Sunday we are having a Christmas concert in church and the choir have been rehearsing. It’s mostly Christmas carols, just one short anthem, and everybody joins in. I’m looking forward to this. The crib is in place where everybody can see it and the ladies will fill huge pots with Christmas roses and holly. Mum and Dad are even coming for a change.

I warned the chickens that they don’t have long left as dad is hoping to pluck and draw one for Christmas lunch. I dare say I shall help him. He’ll wring its neck, which I don’t watch, then he gets me to hold it while he pulls out its innards (they don’t half stink), then there’ll be feathers everywhere when he plucks it. He’ll pick the Brussels ‘yuk’, carrots and spuds from the garden and the Christmas pudding is made – we all had a stir for luck. Hope I get the silver thrupenny bit again this year, it’s usually in my piece, I must just be lucky. If my cousin comes I bet he’ll get one as well, though he’s only 4 so he could swallow it.

We have a huge table in our living room so we can seat us all round it for dinner. We have some home-made Crackers to pull, a tin of salmon for tea plus the Christmas cake I made, and plenty of coal in the shed for the fires, one in the living room and one in the front room, which is a rarity. After dinner I bet we have a sing song. Mum will play the piano and we join in the songs we all know. Her latest favourites are Three Coins in a Fountain by Frank Sinatra and Oh My Pappa by Eddie Fisher, then she’ll revert back to the good old War songs that the oldies know, and Christmas Carols of course. I wish she’d learn to play a bit of Elvis Presley.

After this the grown-ups will fall asleep, especially if they’ve had a beer or a glass of sherry and I might help my cousin do a bit of colouring because he will no doubt get a new colouring book and pencils for Christmas, that’s to keep him quiet for a while I expect. I might read my School Friend with Dilly Dream which my auntie usually buys me and my cousin will probably get a book as well. Neither of us know what else we’ll get because we don’t get to choose, we get whatever our parents can afford, but we drop hints. All we need now is a bit of snow.


Letter published in The Prattler – December edition 2020

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