Christmas Evening 2016

A Report on our meeting on 5th December 2016

The Christmas evening is always something different, a few short seasonal presentations followed by mince pies and a drink whilst chatting with friends. After welcoming members, the Prior Rick Hudson handed over to the Scribe George Parrott to act as the master of ceremonies. Bro George’s introductions were interspersed with the worst Christmas cracker jokes imaginable, plus proof positive that all Santa’s reindeer were female.

First to speak was Judy Wilson. She recited Noel Coward’s Poem “The Boy Actor”. Judy herself enjoyed being on the stage and she said the poem reflected how she herself felt when wanting so much a part in a play. In the poem Noel Coward explains how Christmas invoked different desires in him.  Not for him a place in the football first eleven. What he wanted was a part in a Christmas play, and what a joy it was when he got his first real acting job.

Ann Hudson followed on. She recited two poems by Marriott Edgar. The first was the well known “Albert and the Lion”. Albert visits Blackpool Zoo with his parents and as Pa Ramsbottom says, “Yon lion’s ’et Albert, and ‘im in his Sunday clothes too”. Less well known is the sequel, “Albert’s Return”. Albert’s mother says, “If I thowt we was goin’ to lose ‘im, I’d ‘ave not ‘ad ‘is boots soled and ‘eeled”. But Albert is coughed up by the lion and this thwarts his dad’s efforts to get insurance money out of “the man from the Pru”.

Bro George Parrott told us about the history of Christmas evolving out of the Roman mid-winter celebration called Saturnalia. Although its importance waxed and waned during the Roman epoch one feature remained constant. That was the reversal in the social order.  The modern practice in the armed forces of officers serving the ranks their Christmas dinner is an echo of this practice. Noise, games, and mischief were the order of the day.  Also, family members gave each other presents. By the fourth century this had all been absorbed into the Christmas festival.

Our Prior Rick Hudson concluded with another humorous poem by Marriott Edgar explaining how the badges of fusilier regiments were not designed as most people think to resemble and old fashioned grenade, an iron ball packed with gun powder. According to Marriott Edgar they are a brass reproduction of a round Christmas pudding wrapped in cloth. This celebrates an incident in the Peninsular war at the siege of Badajoz when Sam’s Christmas Pudding fired by accident brought down the bastion, apparently!

Most of the evening however was spent chatting with friends and enjoying mince pies baked by Jan Sunley. These Christmas mince pies alone are worth the Augustinians membership fee.

The vote of thanks was given by Sarah Ryalls.  She thanked all those who gave presentations for a varied and enjoyable selection, which for her was a warm reminder of Christmas past.