Eric Boswell
In this blogposting...
*Oh How We Danced On The Night That We Met
*Eric Boswell
*Christmas Carols
Now, read on, Macduff...

The Extraordinary Christmas AGM takes place tomorrow morning, Wednesday 23 December at 1100 at the foot of Grey’s Monument (or, in view of the prevailing Arctic conditions, in the Pret opposite it) in Newcastle.

I’m not expecting the number of attending truckshunters to be that great. I’ll be taking my trusty copy of A Christmas Carol to read just in case I’m the only one who turns up. So please don’t feel guilty if you can’t make it. Don’t feel that you’ve let your fellow-truckshunters down in any way, or that, by not attending, you are somehow going against the prevailing spirit of the festive season. Don’t feel bad about yourself just because I’ll be there all alone, two days before Christmas, tearfully watching the Christmas shoppers and merrymakers enjoying themselves while I languish cheerlessly and sob my tears into a latte.

A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

And while I’m in that sort of mood...

What exactly is it about the melody of Oh How We Danced On The Night That We Met that compels every street accordionist in north-east England - and everywhere else, as far as I know - to play it incessantly; over and over again; continually; with no respite or relief. They don’t even bother to play another tune in-between one bout of Oh How We Danced On The Night That We Met and the next so that, in no time at all, Oh How We Danced On The Night That We Met inveigles its evil way into your subconscious and becomes a sound-worm. You find yourself humming or whistling Oh How We Danced On The Night That We Met in the bath or shower, whilst ironing or dusting, on the bus or train, whilst clipping the gerbil's toe-nails or writing your Last Will and Testament. ‘Oh how we daaaaaaanced on the niiiiiight that we meeet...’ Before you know it, Oh How We Danced On The Night That We Met has almost become your theme tune. The nightmare scenario arises whereby Oh How We Danced On The Night That We Met will be the last tune you will ever hear. The melody they play at your funeral is Oh How We Danced On The Night That We Met.

Why, in the name of all that’s sacred, don’t street-accordionists EVER play anything ELSE but Oh How We Danced On The Night That We Met?

(I think I may inadvertently have set a new World Record for the number of mentions of Oh How We Danced On The Night That We Met in a single blogposting. Twelve. Go ahead; count them.)

Elsewhere in this blog, note has been made of the death, on December 7, of local lad Eric Boswell. I thought you might like to see this letter, written to The Guardian a few days later by a lass called Julie Myerson...

'I read with sadness the obituary of Eric Boswell, the writer of Little Donkey. In a lifetime of loving this carol more than any other, it has never occurred to me to wonder where it came from.

I first sang it standing in a row of kids in a chilly school hall at the age of six. I liked it because its lyrics were plain and kind, its protagonist noble and lovable. Also, it baffled me a whole lot less than carols about abhorring virgins' wombs. I continued to sing it through years of school carol services and later, comfortingly, at my own children's carol services.

When their father and I finally got married, four Christmases ago, it was the only carol I wanted at our wedding.

People think of it as a children's song, but like the best children's songs, it contains dark and complex truths about adult lives. At six, I knew little of the reality of "dusty roads" and "long winter's nights". I didn't know what a "precious load" was, and I certainly didn't know the meaning of a "heavy day". The idea of not "faltering" and not "giving up" would not have pricked my eyes with tears as it does now. But I think I did know, even then, that the little donkey was just doing his best in tough circumstances, and that thought cheered and moved me, as it does now.

Little Donkey is a carol about resilience and – most importantly - kindness in the face of life's struggles. My life would have been so much poorer without this song: Eric Boswell, I salute you.'

Regular truckshunter Alison has sent me a copy of the new Government Regulations concerning the content of various Christmas songs. I don’t think it needs any comment from me.

Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not stir;
We will lend a coat of fur,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you

1. Fur is no longer appropriate wear for small infants, both due to risk of allergy to animal fur, and for ethical reasons. Therefore a nice cellular blanket or micro-fleece material should be considered as a suitable alternative.

2. A full risk assessment should be carried out before any attempt at rocking the cradle is made. Furthermore, the baby must be restrained in the cradle with a safety harness complying with United Nations ECE Regulation R44.04.

3. Only persons who have been subject to a Criminal Records Bureau check and have an enhanced disclosure should be permitted to rock baby Jesus.

Little donkey, little donkey on the dusty road
Got to keep on plodding onwards with your precious load

1. The RSPCA have issued strict guidelines with regard to how heavy a load a donkey of small stature is permitted to carry. Also included in the guidelines is information regarding how often to feed the donkey and how many rest breaks are required over a four hour plodding period.

2. Please note that due to the increased risk of pollution from the dusty road, Mary and Joseph are required to wear face masks to prevent inhalation of any airborne particles.

3. The donkey has expressed his discomfort at being labelled 'little' and would prefer just to be simply referred to as Mr. Donkey. To comment upon his height or lack thereof may be considered an infringement of his equine rights.

While shepherds watched their flocks by night
all seated on the ground
The angel of the Lord came down
and glory shone around.

1. The union of Shepherds has complained that it breaches health and safety regulations to insist that shepherds watch their flocks without appropriate seating arrangements being provided, therefore benches, stools and orthopaedic chairs are now available.

2. Shepherds have also requested that due to the inclement weather conditions at this time of year they should be able to watch their flocks via cctv cameras from centrally heated shepherd observation huts.

3. As a safety precaution, before the angel of the Lord shines his/her glory around, all shepherds should be issued with glasses capable of filtering out the harmful effects of UVA, UVB and Glory rays.

Finally, thank you for your co-operation in these matters. We hope you have a Happy Wintermas.

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Maureen said...

OOh what a lovely blog yet again, lots of little newsy bits, and Allison I love your 'elfin safety rules!
I'm not sure about the 'clever clogs' thing but I'll certainly make enquiries.
I'm sorry that you may be alone tomorrow Ian, maybe if you produce your mouth organ from your top pocket and give a jolly rendition of 'Oh, how we danced' you could draw a crowd, earning enough for an apple turnover at the same time? I'll watch out for it on Look North. Could we maybe book an encore for January sometime? I'd love to be there...

Vivienne said...

Hi Folks,

Sorry I couldn't make the AGM today, but hope you were not alone Ian. I'm looking forward to reading your new posting when I have time to relax and enjoy it. Hope you all have a lovely Christmas.

Lots of love,

Viviene xxx