My father was pretty good with his hands and, for a while, he subscribed to an American DIY magazine. There were projects in it that were for fun rather than serious pieces of furniture and he did a few of those. The one I remember was an elaborate practical joke that he played one Christmas on their friends Ford and Bunty.
My father Malcolm and Ford (short for Wallingford, not that he ever let anyone know it) had been friends since childhood. He’d been best man at their wedding. Ford was great fun and had a mischievous sense of humour. He was the local photographer in Lowestoft and, had the war not intervened, they’d have gone into business together. I’m still friends with Ford and Bunty’s son and his wife and Weeza is friends with their daughter.
Anyway, that’s by the bye. The Christmas special issue of this American magazine, if you can still remember before I digressed, had the template for a Santa Claus scene, complete with Father Christmas and his sleigh, the presents, the reindeer, everything. Daddy spent weeks cutting it all out of plywood.
On Christmas Eve, friends invited the neighbourhood round for evening drinks. A watch was kept until Ford and Bunty left their house and then Daddy and Mr Weavers drove down with Santa and his gear and they spent an hour or so constructing the whole scene on the roof. Father Christmas was stuck in the chimney and the reindeer were strung along the ridge. Afterwards, of course, Mummy and Daddy went along innocently to the party and – actually, thinking about it, I have no idea what happened the next day. I remember seeing the construction on the roof so I must have been taken along there, but I don’t know how quickly it was realised who was responsible. Probably pretty smartly.
Sorry to mention the C word at this time of the year. I suspect I’m pretty well finished with the garden – there is more I can say, but it would be all about meeeee – and I should talk about something else. Even if it’s just the house. Isn’t it funny how you remember every inch of where you grew up?