Ever since the first hit parade in 1952 there seems to have been a race to have a number one record at Christmas, or as it once was, Top of the Hit Parade.
Strangely enough there were not that many with a religious or Christmas theme. Answer Me by Frankie Laine in 1953 was near the mark I suppose, but it was not until 1955 when Dickie Valentine recorded Christmas Alphabet that a record had a feel for the season. Two years later this was followed by Harry Belafonte’s Mary’s Boy Child.
Throughout the '60s there was not a Christmassy number one and we had to wait until 1973 for a record that's still played continually, and a really brilliant Christmas record it is too – Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody. It's the embodiment of a Christmas record and many can remember where they were when it was being played non-stop. I know I can. It was recorded in the summer that year in New York when the temperature was 100F!
We can all remember Noddy Holder with his amazing hat screaming Merry Christmas! at the top of his voice on Top of the Pops. Slade also kept I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day by Roy Wood’s Wizzard at number four.
The following year glam-rock band Mud recorded Lonely This Christmas, a rather solemn record. The late Les Gray did his best Elvis Presley impersonation at he end saying 'Merry Christmas everybody'.
In 1976 Johnny Mathis recorded When a Child is Born and two years later the sensation of the year, Boney M, made it to the top with a remake of Belafonte’s Mary’s Boy Child-Oh My Lord.
In 1984 Band Aid topped the charts with Do They Know It’s Christmas, raising millions for charity. It was a hit again five years later with Band Aid II.
Cliff Richard had to be there somewhere and it was in 1988 that he was at the top with Mistletoe and Wine.
Perhaps the oddest Christmas record came in 1971 when Benny Hill and his Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West) became a surprise hit. We won’t forget Ernie...
• The picture above was taken at the junction of Commercial Road and Arundel Street, Portsmouth, in December 1964. To the rear can be seen the much-loved and missed LDB (Landport Drapery Bazaar) decorated with real Christmas trees. Just look at the number of shoppers passing over the zebra crossing.
I wondered if any cars could make their way south until I noticed a policeman on point duty to the right of the Belisha beacon. He's where the 1977 Queen’s Silver Jubilee fountain is now. Of course, this was long before the days of the the safety helmets which cyclists wear today and I bet none of the cycles seen bottom right was locked.
This scene came to and end a few years later when the area was pedestrianised and shopping could be done in relative safety. However, Commercial Road was never the same. The atmosphere went, with the traffic. The frightening thing is, I can remember this location looking like this as if it were yesterday not... 53 years ago.
• Next year is the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice that brought about the end of the First World War. The Treaty of Peace was signed in Versailles in 1919 ending the war completely.
In 1914 the Christmas Truce between British, French and German soldiers took place on the Western Front. The unofficial ceasefire occurred much to the chagrin of the generals. Soldiers from both sides crossed no man’s land to mingle and exchange greetings. Many, it is said, sang carols together. It happened again the following year but not on such a large scale as an order was issued banning fraternisation.
Imagine if all the soldiers had refused and everyone remained pals. Would the fighting have gone on?