The other Christmas that I remember was when I got my first train set. This was at my other grandparent’s house in Leicester; actually I think we might have lived there at the time.
Christmas morning in the front room there was a square metre of sapele board and a simple circle of track, an engine a tender and two coaches in British Rail burgundy livery. There was a level crossing, a station and a bridge made out of an old shoe box that dad had cut out and made himself. He was good at making things for Christmas presents and at about the same time I had a fort with some US cavalry soldiers that was made out of an old office filing box that he had constructed into a pretty good scale copy of Fort Laramie or wherever, later I had a replacement fort, this time from the toy shop but it was never as good as the cardboard box.
For many years after that there were new additions to the train set until I had quite an extensive network of track and a good collection of engines and rolling stock. But something bad happened to the train set in about 1972 when all of the engines mysteriously stopped functioning. The reason for this was quickly discovered. Brother Richard who has always been more gifted than me with a screwdriver had dismantled them all as part of his engineering education. Unfortunately at this time his skills were not sufficiently developed to be able to put them back together again with quite the same level of expertise and consequently that was the end of model railways in our house.
Christmas was never quite the same of course after you found out the truth about Santa when you were about eight or nine years old. Some spoilsport at school with an older brother or sister would spill the beans on the myth of Christmas and this would be confirmed in the December when you found presents, that were supposed to be still at Santa’s factory at the North Pole, on top of or at the back of your parents wardrobe.
I remember when this happened and I discovered the gifts wrapped in mid-December and I sneaked them into the bathroom, locked the door and carefully unwrapped the paper to see if this was true. It was quite a shock to find some new additions to the model railway and quite difficult to wrap them back up again to cover up my snooping. Even more difficult of course to pretend to be surprised when I opened them again a fortnight later on Christmas morning! My brother Richard is nearly eight years younger than me so we had to continue to pretend about Santa in our house until I was about fifteen, although I am sure I told my sister straight away!