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Solo Looks Back

5 Remembering the last recessional Christmas

Christmas in the ’80s – back then there was a permanent recession. In fact it was so perennial that we kind of didn’t know any different and were, therefore, pretty content. Fast forward two decades or so and it’s recession time again, albeit in different setting. We’ve had the boom years, the period of affluence that saw us shop for presents in New York and go skiing in the New Year. But now, as we prepare to feebly attempt to celebrate the Chrimbo of 2008, it’s back to basics.
Christmas circa 1985 was a grey time. We were relatively poor but because we’d never been rich in the first place, we were happy with our lot. Santa Claus was a real person, who you wrote to – not emailed – about a month or so before the big day to ask him to bring you the newest version of Connect Four along with a jigsaw puzzle and a ‘surprise’ if you were really good. Oh and of course you always got an annual. Beano or Dandy for the boys. Twinkle or Bunty for the girls.
Them were the days when turkey ruled the roost and the notion of cooking a goose or duck were beyond the bounds of our limited imaginations. Yep, ’twas turkey all the way, a bird that had added value for it lasted at least a week and made a very good ingredient for endless rounds of sandwiches and the obligatory curry on the day after St Stephen’s Day. And the plum pudding was homemade. Remember that? There was no Tesco Finest malarky back then. Nope. It was all about honest to goodness food that was made by your mother, and you ate it whether or not you even liked the stuff.
Then there was the drink. You looked on in awe as the adults drank Blue Nun or Black Tower – that was it, there was no other wine on sale in Ireland – while you were delighted to be allowed to indulge in numerous glasses of whatever mineral (or soft drink as it’s know nowadays) was bought in bulk on the cheap. It was always a battle between Dunnes and Quinnsworth. St Bernard’s or Yellow Pack? The winner was always the one that charged less. Ditto with the crackers, which always had crap toys and jokes, but great paper hats that you put on during the Christmas dinner in order to exaggerate the festive fever.
There was always snow and the TV had but two channels but that didn’t matter ’cause RTE was able to afford to show Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and that really is the only must-see Christmas movie, which you watched whilst chewing on the Curly Wurly that came with the Cadbury’s Selection Box that was an absolutely compulsory, if only, item in your Christmas stocking.
Ah yes, those were the days. We should be grateful – thrilled even – that they’re coming at us again.


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