21 December 2007

The gifts of Christmas past

*Christmas 1979 - "Gis a croggie!"
- a red Tomahawk bike, with smart new hexagonal seat and the notice which said This bicycle is not designed to carry passengers. I was still riding it at the age of nine. The photo depicts the old style seat of the early 70s, which my brother had on his purple version of what was a much underrated machine for a boy of six.

*Christmas 1980 - "No, it's FOUR away for hitting the yellow!"
- a 6ft snooker table and balls (ten reds) with cues, rest and triangle. My maternal grandad and I were never off it, and there's a great photo of us in my dad's slide archive somewhere of us posing with cues. I'm in an Adidas T-shirt and a light blue wristband, giving the thumbs-up. Every boy got into snooker in the 1980s thanks to Pot Black, and my primary school even had an internal competition. The table remained in regular use for most of the decade.

*Christmas 1981 - "Yorkle the yellow dragon is afraid of the gold key and will run from it..."
- the Atari console of the time, along with Space Invaders, Asteroids and Adventure. This was a joint pressie to my brother and I and our parents left us alone all day to play it rather than get us involved with family stuff, unusually. I later found out that it was because I was due to be admitted to hospital on Boxing Day for my long-standing tonsil removal op, and so they'd wanted me to have the best possible Christmas Day, which meant not having to do the polite stuff with aunties et al, before quietly telling me last thing at night before bed. Bless them. I was scared, especially when I found my hospital bag had been quietly packed by mum and left in my room during the day. I was home and playing that Atari again by January 3rd, and it lasted a good few years.

Christmas 1982 - "Can you help me put the chain back on?"
- the Tomahawk's replacement, an 18-inch Raleigh Arena, my first racing bike. I was a short nine year old so needed a short bike, and the Arena was the predictable model of the time, but I loved that bike. I had it for four years prior to my brother getting a moped and handing over to me his superb Cyclone. Great photo, though I don't think I had those yellow taped handlebars.

*Christmas 1983 - "Plug those bloody earphones in!"
- a Casio MT-45 synthesiser, a gift so synonymous with my childhood that my brother mentioned it in his best man's speech at my wedding last year. Eight drum beats (pop, disco, bossanova, waltz, samba, swing, beguine and tango) and eight instrument sounds (piano, electric piano, organ, erm... nope, forgotten the others) and before long I'd mastered New Song (well, the melody line anyway) and the Cuckoo Waltz theme. The pic is of the slightly better MT-60. My mate Tim Pakyurek had the MT-65, which had more sounds and more drumbeats. I was profoundly jealous.

Great presents through those important years. I was very lucky and very grateful, and still am.

From 1984 onwards it became the early adolescent mixture of cash, vouchers (I hated vouchers - basically they restricted what you could buy and gave the impression that the giver knew what to get you but couldn't be arsed to get it), records and clothes.

The last great motif of my childhood Christmases still exists - there's a selection box for me courtesy of my mum and dad under the tree every year. Bless them again. One year they forgot to give us (erm, give Santa) the boxes and ended up finding them, by accident, in July. So we got Christmas chocolate in the summer. Fair enough.

Your year-by-year gift memories would be most welcome.


Steve said...

For me every year my main present was Lego... Christmas wasn't Christmas without it and in fact I still feel the same way. I'm lucky to have a wife who indulges me in this simple pleasure and two boys who act as my cover when the postman delivers the latest set through the post. "No, it's not for me... it's for my boys... ahem...!"

Bright Ambassador said...

79 - Raleigh Commando
81 - Snooker table
82 - Raleigh racing bike, the name of which escapes me.
83 - a coat - how dull
84 - Philips 14" colour TV

Anonymous said...

You must check out this new Holiday CD by Kasio Kristmas! Talk about nostalgia, they guys recorded an entire CD worth of Christmas classics using only casios like the one pictured. It has the sound of the 1980's, flight of the Conchords, devo, and sci-fi sountracks all blended into one.

Anyway, I thought it was unique enough to comment out here. Here are some links where you can take a listen



Chris A Tye said...

One of my rare memories of life at Hedon primary, is sitting in class and writing a letter to Santa. I asked for a torch and a Matchbox 'Race & Chase' slot car affair. I received both. I wonder how Santa got my letter???!

The Christmas gift that shaped me, and my life, came in 1983. It was black, had rubber buttons and 16k of memory. That ZX Spectrum changed my life.