Tony Allen: And finally... It’s a once a year thing

Jan 01 | 2024

It’s quite tough being in a ukulele band around about Christmas time, there are always quite a lot of charity gigs in our diary, and from a musical point of view some carols are not easy to play; or sing come to that.

Tony AllenIn addition, we have a number of attendances at local public houses and the like where our main role is to involve the audience in effusive ‘sing-alongs’. Oh, and then there’s the town fair where the requirement is to entertain the passing crowd and to involve them in the season of goodwill.

Hopefully we won’t have to cope with a repeat of the previous year when we encountered a rather bibulous Father Christmas with a suitably appropriate red nose, who insisted on singing and I might add thought he was Frank Sinatra and then proved himself entirely wrong. We haven’t seen him since so I think he must have been given the sack.

Every year our combined local charitable organisations put on a Christmas party for the local pensioners attended by about 300 people and we play there most years. It’s actually a great joy to start off with a large room full of people – an audience I think they’re called – who are sitting in rows emoting ‘go on then entertain us!’ and then to end up with a joyful crowd of people waving their arms in the air and singing such standards as Deck The Halls With Boughs of Holly or Sweet Caroline, which seems to be the ‘go to’ song at the moment.

Of course Christmas carols are so important at this time of year and most people love them as they bring back childhood memories and feed our sense of nostalgia, especially when they are accompanied by a few calorific mince pies.

Let’s be honest, the Festive Season is a most enjoyable time for most of us but it does tend to shine a spotlight on those who are alone, so it’s always important to make sure that we don’t forget them.

Which brings me to the subject of Christmas gifts, or to put it another way handkerchiefs and socks. Families tend to grow exponentially, which creates a major problem when it comes to the financial implications of buying presents. In other words, what to buy and how much to pay? We now have four levels of family with great-grandchildren entering onto the scene.

The increasing level of the total cost of these presents is the main problem, coupled with the factor as to how do we pluck up the courage to tell levels one and possibly two that perhaps we should stop giving each other Christmas presents. I can think of easier ways of starting a riot! The word ‘humbug’ also comes to mind.

Oh, and there is one other factor that I haven’t mentioned. Within the extended family unit we now have four dogs of varying shapes and sizes, but mostly including the word ‘doodle’ in their breed name, plus a rather independent cat called Josh who couldn’t give a damn about Christmas, or anything or anybody else come to that. Of course all of these beasts require a suitable present, the cost of which really eats into our Mediterranean cruise fund.

Friends of ours tend to solve the Christmas ‘problem’ by going away on their own to a hotel as they are fed up with being pulled in so many directions by their family. As far as Mrs A and I are concerned, and apart from my earlier comments, we actually adore Christmas and being with the family and all of the silly games. I must admit that I really do not like turkey, I think it’s the most bland of meats and am convinced that it’s the turkey’s way of making us suffer for ruining its Christmas. To be honest I would much sooner have a juicy steak; but don’t tell anybody.

And so, dear reader, as I approach the end of my last article of the year – and what a year it’s been – may I take this opportunity of wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The most enjoyable part of Christmas is that it’s an escape from the real world, so whether you are watching the television, playing silly games or hiding your turkey under the Brussels sprouts, just enjoy it and, most of all, have fun.