Blog No.33: Christmas story No.2 – In The Bleak Midwinter – The Christmas of 1965(?)

The second of a few memorable musical Christmases


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Since it’s the season to be jolly and joyous (to quote The Muppet Christmas Carol) I thought I’d give you all, and myself, a break from the usual blogs and bore you with some different ones instead. No.2 is about the second Christmas I can remember, that of 1965…at least I think that was the year. I must have been around 8 or 9. Anyhow, it was the year of my first public singing performance. This all happened at Greenland Infant and Primary School, South Moor, Stanley, County Durham.

Greenland School around the time it opened in 1908. The school closed a few years back.

The first thing I remember is the choosing of who would be playing who in that year’s Nativity play. I so wanted to play Joseph…or a shepherd. I wanted to wear a costume, and have one of those tea-towels on my head! One by one the parts were going, and my name wasn’t called out. In the end there was no one left, and I was crest-fallen. But then my teacher – Miss Handy I think it was, though I can’t be certain – turned to me and said, “Malcolm [my real name], I want you to sing ‘In The Bleak Midwinter‘. I should have been elated, I should have been proud, but I wanted to wear a tea-towel on my head, and the singing would involve no costume or tea-towel!

Our Nativity play would have looked something like this photo from 1963. ( Photo is of Glengyle Preparatory School for Boys was in Putney, south-west London, from my old friend and fellow puppeteer and writer, Francis Wright’s blog:

Of course, when I told my mother she was proud…I think. It was hard to tell with ‘me mam’ as she wasn’t one for showing her feelings. I can’t remember her being in the audience that bleak midwinter afternoon, but I’m sure she must have been. My dad had passed away only a year or two before, so he was there in spirit only. I can still remember the sea of faces staring up at me: proud mum’s and dads…and probably a load of parents just wishing it was over; but I don’t remember being afraid. I may have been a bit nervous, but not frightened. (This would stand me in good stead for my later performing career.) So, I slowly walked out onto the stage, turned to face the audience, and began to sing…”In the bleak midwinter. frosty winds may blow.…” and I remember loving it. Loving the singing, loving the attention. Loving it all! I think I sang three verses, and when I finished there was applause. My first audience applause. I bowed as best as I could, and I walked off stage. As I did, I saw my teacher crying. I don’t think, at the time, I knew why she was wiping her eyes, but I hope was because it moved her and not because it was excruciating. It certainly moved me, and I had forgotten all about not wearing a costume or a tea-towel on my head.

A street scene from around the time.

I’ll leave you with Susan Boyle at the Royal Albert Hall, singing the version of the carol that I sang. Merry Christmas to you all.


Thanks, as always, for reading, and please do leave a Star Rating at the top of the Page (good or bad, I don’t mind), or Like it below if you’re a member of WordPress. You can also leave a Comment or Question below.

Until next one,


7 thoughts on “Blog No.33: Christmas story No.2 – In The Bleak Midwinter – The Christmas of 1965(?)

  1. Mak, I’m delighted you are using the Nativity Play photo. Yes, it sums it all up, doesn’t it ? I also love your pic of the street scene with pushchairs … All the best as ever, FW

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Francis! You know, when I looked at that on your blog and saw the name, I thought, ‘I know a Francis Wright’, but didn’t put two and two together. Great to be back in contact again after sooooooo long. Hope you’re well and busy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I just sent my significant other off to sleep. What can I say except I feel your need to wear the tea towel, but your teacher knew best your talents, and her tears are signs of great joy at the moment of Awe you brought to the audience. Be happy, in the first grade, I was asked to play the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker Suite. Age 5. Needless to say, I was one of the few trained in ballet a this age. I remember my costume and standing stage right to utter my one line. What a moment. My first performance on stage.

    Liked by 2 people

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