IT must be Christmas...Carole and I are dancing round the house singing Gene Autry's…Here comes Santa Claus...right down Santa Claus lane, which was a huge hit for the ‘Singing Cowboy’ in 1947.

I can't remember my mum and dad singing it back in 1950, in our Vicary Crescent steel council house, because I was far more interested in the most important aspect of Xmas.

Spreading my pillow case of presents all over my parents’ bed at 5am on Xmas morning, and bouncing up and down with excitement, as I discarded all the colourful wrapping paper to get at the myriad of gifts, such as…Rupert Bear and Toby Twirl Annuals…Dandy and Beano Books...a Black Bob picture book, and in later years…the latest Just William.

There was always a giant, shiny orange , a polished apple, sticky dates and nuts, a board game, toy car and jig-saw puzzle.

Then there was the ‘Main Present’...a dartboard (our back door was soon holier than the Vatican!)…new football boots../or a clockwork train set (which I over-wound on the first night!) Xmas day was always joyfully hectic.

Mum cooked a lovely plump chicken in the morning (it was the one time in the year we'd have poultry), and there'd be neighbours popping in…like Eddie and Pat Picton, Stan Nichols, the Delfs and the Wighams...for a bottle of nut brown ale (from the crate under the stairs) or glass of sherry.

We could never sit down to eat until my Uncle ‘Skip’ from Coombs Drive arrived...we were part of his Xmas Day rounds...which could be any time between 1-2.30pm. The later he was...the more flustered my mum would get!

Xmas Day was one of the few that our ‘gang’ never went up the Gunkle to play. We understood, even at that young age, that it was a family day.

When I began the TRM columns, more than 20 years ago, some may recall that I wrote it with my godmother, the cranky, irreverent octogenarian Mrs Morris, and, during that time, as is the case with all columns, quite a lot, for various reasons, didn't make it onto the pages of the Merc. So, I decided, over this Xmas and New Year, to give some of it another airing.

Like cranberry sauce on your chin, it'll be spread over the next two weeks, and for all those who follow TRM just for the old photies, I'm throwing in some snaps as well.

Now… ‘Good King Wenceslas’ ...did he really look out on the Feast of Stephen? Was he real? My research showed two possible Wenceslases.

From the early 900’s came the Prince of Bohemia, patron Saint of Czechosovakia, murdered by his brother and who became a martyr...he was good because he dedicated himself to improving the religion of his people...but his Feast Day is... September 28.

Secondly, from around 1400, there was a Wenceslas who went from being King of Bohemia, to becoming King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor...until he was booted out by the German electorate. Mrs Merkel...beware!

So, I found zilch to suggest either was the star in J M Neale's catchy carol.

St Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was stoned to death around the year 35…and, of course, his Feast Day is December 26.

I remember, when I told my godmother of my yuletide research findings, she wasn't at all interested. She was more interested in the new vicar.

I've gone through all her notes…all written in pencil, now badly faded, but here's what I think she wrote…

"Just had a barney with the vicar when I called to see him with the three-dozen mince pies I'd made for his Xmas soiree…to which I ain't been invited! And we had a real up-and-downer when I told him I wouldn't be available to act as one of his serving wenches...skivvies more his Xmas pudding evening next week. I explained I'd already agreed to go to my neighbour Gemma's fancy dress party on the same night.

“He looked shocked. ‘I'm shocked,’ he declared in his pulpit voice…munching on two mince pies…’that woman...that woman is nothing but a TART!’

“A spray of puff pastry and sweetened mince slapped me in the face. ‘You hardly know her,’… I argued, feeling my gander getting up.

'I recognise a TART when I see one...look at the way she dresses...skirts up round her Kylie Minogue…low cut tops showing off her massive Katie Prices, and handfuls of naked flesh round her mid-waist crisis. And I've noticed that most of the Xmas lights flashing outside her house are RED!'

“I jumped to Gemma's defence…’That's the way all youngsters dress nowadays...’

“The vicar crammed two more mince pies into his mouth... ‘Yes…but she's 73!!!!’

“We argued for over an hour...until all the mince pies had gone. Finally we came to an agreement...I agreed to make another dollop of mince pies… and he agreed to postpone his plum pudding night. And now we're both going to Gemma's fancy dress party, as A vicar and tarts.!”

Time for our teasers…last week's (an extremely confusing one) caused so many problems, that only two got the correct answer...which was FRIDAY. Well done Jets and Anne Llewellyn, and Phil Jones.

I'll be back next week, hopefully with some New Year's thoughts, more my giddy godmother, and the posers will return next year.

Meanwhile, here are some photos for you…all good friends of mine.

Take care, and have a lovely Xmas.