GEOFF CRAMBIE: Christmas memories of Colne’s Mayfair Youth Club

“Christmas Special 2010”. - Happy Christmas

So, here at last, it’s Christmas 2010, the Christmas tree lights flicker and glow with multi-coloured magic sending warmth to every corner of the room. Now the Lancaster Street, home of the Crambie family, has just enjoyed for the 43rd year in succession, a truly sumptuous festive feast served up as ever to us all in fine style by my dear wife, Ruth.

As the ruby-red candle’s flame shimmers, sending shadows as if dancing on the wall, son Shaun and Kiri sit together enjoining a warming glass of rum punch. Meanwhile, daughter, Janette and Darren, are both relishing a plate of hot mince pies, as grandson Nathan and Amy pull a Christmas cracker which explodes into the room sending a miniature Buzz Lightyear to infinity and beyond.

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Now Ruth brings round to the bedecked table here special Christmastide trifle which elicits loud cheers all round as I settle down into my new luxurious leather armchair. Here beside me are my trusty bottle of Captain Morgan rum and a goodly supply of fine chocolate marzipan as the television screen shows the beginning of the heart-warming 1947 Christmas film, “Miracle on 34th Street”. Now as a very young Natalie Wood, goes to meet the real Father Christmas, my eyes slowly close as I settle down further into my comfy seat.

Suddenly my eyes are wide open as heavy snow is now falling all around me and I’m here walking up some ancient snow-covered stone steps. As I open the olde-world wooden green door, my senses reel as I recognise a place from another time which has been demolished now for decades! Why, I’m standing inside the old College Club down Ivegate in Colne, but here it is as it was during my teenage years, “The Mayfair Youth Club”!

Here at No. 8 Ivegate, were some of the happiest days of my life and then quite unexpectedly came the unmistakable voice of Elvis Presley, singing his No. one hit, “It’s now or Never”.

Then over by a brightly decorated Christmas tree, I see to my amazement standing round a Dansette record player, three of my great friends from those days of years ago. Why here are Mel Hartley (Strom) Dave Horsfall (Oscar) and Ken Oldfield (Odd socks) all founders of the Mayfair Youth Club.

As the Elvis single clicks off the turntable, Mel puts on a new 45 r.p.m. record on the deck saying to Dave and Ken in true “Bogart” style, “Now listen to a real singer” and the phenomenal voice of Roy Orbison singing “Only the Lonely”, echoes all round the room. My mind boggles, what am I doing here?

Just then, I see two more dear pals who grew up with me down Hall Street during the 1940s and ‘50s. My eyes widen as I see playing table-tennis with a great skill, Malcs Graham (Mawkins) and Allan Lister (Fleckie). Then as the ball flies through the air, it hits a large calendar on the wall which I go over to look at.

It’s a British Transport Commission calendar for 1960, open at December with a superb picture of steam locomotive No. 46100 Royal Scot. Then, as I look closer, I see all the dates are crossed through right up to the 25th; my head spins, it’s Christmas Day 1960, I’ve gone back 50 years in time!

Now I see two new faces by the record player. Why it’s Mick Crabtree (Iron man) and Terry Atkins (Tiger) who are both trying to place their own disc on the player. Mick wins and his favourite Buddy Holly song “Rave on” rings out. Over in the far corner, I spy two bonnie girls jiving to the music; it’s Sheila Morgan and her sister, Pat, who twirl all round the floor with perfect timing.

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Just behind Sheila and Pat, I can see a book shelf on the wall with a sign saying, “Mayfair Library, borrow any book 3d a week”. These are from Dave Horsfall’s own collection, “Moby Dick”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, “Brighton Rock”, “The Catcher in the Rye”, “To Kill a Mocking Bird” and the most controversial book of the year 1960 is also here (purchased from Gerrard’s bookshop by Mel), “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”!

Now as Johnny Burnette’s hit “Dreaming” begins to play, two more pretty looking girls are dancing; it’s Janet Greenwood and Pat Watts who make the overhead Christmas tinsel glitter even more.

Now I spot over at the snooker table, Mel’s old adversary, Max Denton (Maxie) playing Ed Kelly (Lord Ted) while Mick Leonard (Mountain man) roars out encouragement.

Suddenly over by the dartboard, I see four great characters in fine form on the Oche; here’s Jimmy Smith (Spinners), Billy Davidson (chippie), Jimmy Hodge (Podge) and Geoff Goddard (Gogga) all smiles as another 180 is thrown.

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Then my eyes catch sight of four grammar school academics looking at Mel’s typewritten Cricket Club averages for Summer 1960. Why, here’s my old pals Robin Smith (Piff) Frank Pollard (Polly), Terry Sutcliffe (Cec) and Graham Phillips (Ned). Robin, the fastest bowler of all time up the top rec is top of the bowling averages having taken 52 wickets for an average of six runs each, including 6 for 8 and 5 for 7, all clean bowled.

Now my head turns over to the club canteen where John Hatfield (Chester), Stan Fletcher (Fletch), Steve Carradice (carrots) and Brian Evans (Bryn) are all stocking up on goodies served by Sheila including Nux bars (6d), Aztec bars (6d) and Tems crisps (4d a bag).

I spot, Tommy Thompson (Thommo) and Norman Devonport (Devi) putting up a film poster on the wall for “North to Alaska”, starring big John Wayne and the title song sung by Johnny Horton.

Suddenly, I catch across the room, a teenage blonde girl with the smile of an angel, my eyes blink in sheer amazement as I recognise my girlfriend of 50 years ago, “Surreal Sue”. A voice now calls out, “Hey Geoff, over here” and I see Richard McLoughlin (Flint) at the record player as Sue Kibble hands him a single to play, now as snow softly falls outside, Johnny Tillotson’s, “Poetry in Motion” fills the Club room and I cross over to where Richard has called.

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Suddenly, quick as a flash, a smiling, Sue slam-dunks a huge snowball right on the top of my head! As laughter echoes round the Mayfair, I’m now aware of water also landing on my head and my eyes wide open see a rejoicing Ruth, holding a cup of water over me!

Nathan with a chortle cries out, “Wake up Grand-dad, the film’s finished”.

From all of us to all of you, may you have the Christmas of your dreams.