Christmas Treat: 2004.
Sing Along With Grundy.
We had our second annual Chair's Christmas Treat, just before Christmas and jolly nice it was, if I say it myself. If you weren't there, let me tell you that we had a sort of "pretendy" carol service in the Methodist chapel in the mining village. I say "pretendy" not because we pretended to sing carols - we sang them for real and with gusto accompanied with even more gusto by Bob Walker on the harmonium - my goodness that man can rock.
I say "pretendy" because, beyond the carols, we ceased to be a proper service. John Gall talked to us fascinatingly about Christmas customs in the North East coalfield. Bill Bohill and Claire Rooks played beautifully for us on the Northumbrian pipes and Norma Hall regaled us on the concertina.
We just had a good time. The intense cold was kept at bay by the presence of vast numbers of bodies pressed closely together (it's a good job we're all friends) and by the fabulous fire that had been created for us in the stove at the back of the chapel. 1 would like to wax lyrical, for a moment, if I may, about the quality of fires that you get at Beamish - in the Great Shed, in the miners' cottages, and of course in the chapel. They certainly know how to make a fire at Beamish.
Anyway, we had a lovely time made even lovelier by the presence of Frank Atkinson who was persuaded to come (duped some would say) by Robert Atkinson, so that we could spring upon him the unveiling of the bust of him that we have had made (a) to celebrate his achievements at Beamish and (b) his 80th year. Before long the bust will find its permanent home so watch out for it and blow the man a kiss.
Singing over, we made our wet and windy way down to the Dainty Dinah where Darren and the team had laid on appropriate comestibles and draughts of sherry. I have to say I was impressed at the efficiency with which the Friends of Beamish can put away a dainty morsel. Stuck, as I was, at the door greeting latecomers, nibbled morsels remained a stranger to my lips. Next year I shall adopt a new strategy. See you then, but in the meantime have a lovely 2005.