Singing our heads off
In Bennett Road, Christmas time in the late 40s and the 50s were the best for me, because I was young and full of the Christmas spirit. About a week before Christmas a friend from my road, Mickey George and I would go carol singing in Rottingdean. We would get a number 7 bus from Arundel Road to Rottingdean and sing our heads off.
Carol singing in Rottingdean
The people in Rottingdean were very kind and we were well paid for our carol singing. Some houses had us in to the hall and gave us cake and a hot drink, as we were freezing most of the time. Everynight we would get the number 7 bus home at nine oclock. The bus was always empty and we would sit on the top deck at the front and count our money out and divide it in half.
A stall in the Open Market
My dad had a stall in the Open Market selling homemade jewellery. This was before the new market was built, when the stalls were cold and draughty. Each stall had a couple of light bulbs hanging down and this gave an eerie light to see by. About a month before Christmas, in my house mum and dad were making lots of different pieces of jewellery. I had a hand in making some of these items.
Buying presents in Boots
The Open Market was a vibrant place leading up to Christmas time with stallholders shouting a little more than normal trying to attract the attention of the customers. On Christmas eve we would go shopping along London Road with the money from our carol singing to buy presents for the family. We nearly always ended up in Boots buying this soap or that talc or some other sweet smelling present.
Lights in the Old Steine
To go home we usually got a number 44 trolley bus to Arundel Road. But the bus was crowded at this time of year picking up most of the passengers at Seven Dials and Preston Circus. So we would get a number 26 to the Old Steine and then a bus to Arundel Road. The lights hanging in the trees at the Old Steine were so beautiful to a young kid, and I have never forgotten them.
Not much money
Later on in life on one Christmas morning when I and my family were staying at my mums I took one of my sons to the Brighton Marina to try out his new fishing gear. I was astounded to find that there was an old lady sitting in the pay kiosk doing her knitting collecting the 50p to go on the marina, I was amazed at this. Not much money, but well loved and memorable times. Happy Christmas