Home “Concerts” at Xmas/ New Year..

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EVERY YEAR, ABOUT THIS TIME, OUR THOUGHTS TURN TO PRECIOUS FAMILY TIMES (AND MEMORIES) OF CHRISTMAS/ NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS OVER PAST DECADES AND GENERATIONS…. THE SO-CALLED “GOOD OLD DAYS”.

Having been around well before the advent of TV in the 1950s (shock, horror!) and the intricacies of technology-based celebrations in more recent times (shock, horror again!), I can vouch for the fact that the “good old days” often weren’t what they are “cracked up” to be by some people in some places, nowadays. But the Xmas and New Year family turnouts were worth staying up late for – and the food and amateur entertainment on offer were always worth the price of admission….nothing, of course! Before the advent of TV( and for a while after it ) family sing-songs around the piano, at home(or at someone else’s home) were very much “the thing”. Sometimes, in the more musically talented families, this could stretch to a band (of sorts) with family members joining in on their harmonica(mouth organ), a piano accordion, a guitar, violin, or perhaps even a wind instrument (saxophone, trumpet, etc). Quite often, the sound was more enjoyable than melodious – but the neighbours didn’t get too uptight or overly perturbed about their interrupted sleep. More often than not, they joined in!

As a young blade, I failed as a clarinetist, saxophonist, and guitarist – but eventually made a reasonable job of beating the drums in a dance band (this bought me my first car, at the age of 17, after leaving school). I came from a musical family (one sister a good pianist, another a violinist) and we had family musical evenings “at home”, often, with a couple of State and national champion cornet/trumpet players adding considerably more class to our performances. But the Xmas/ New Year “do’s”, and family musical evenings at other people’s homes were the ones we enjoyed most.

At one such at-home gathering, the family’s DOG (Timmy) would join in our “singing” every time the “mother of the house”(Joan) played certain songs on her piano. (If truth be known, Timmy probably added something worthwhile with his howling…as we weren’t renowned for our singing!).

Even after television entered our loungerooms in the 1950s, these at-home family turnouts continued and held sway over gathering around the TV set to watch other people making all the noise – and singing all the Xmas Carols, etc., properly.