Mistletoe and marbles

23 December 2014

‘Christmas time, Mistletoe and
…. sang Cliff Richard, way back in 1988. Heavens…. That makes feel rather old! The single was Cliff Richard’s 99th and it became his 12th UK number one single, spending four weeks at the top in December 1988 – selling 750,000 copies in the process. It was (unsurprisingly) the best-selling single of 1988 in the United Kingdom. But did you know, that the writers of the song intended it to have a very different meaning?

It was written for a musical called Scraps which was first performed in 1976 at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, London. The musical was renamed and adapted for television by HTV in 1987 and featured Roger Daltrey, Paul Daneman, Jimmy Jewel and Twiggy. The writers – Jeremy Paul, Leslie Stewart and Keith Strachan – wanted a song that sounded like a Christmas carol, and intended for it to be sung ironically while ‘the little match girl’ (the musical being an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen‘s “The Little Match Girl”) is kicked out into the snow by the unkind middle classes. By the time the musical transferred to television, the song had become a lusty pub song sung by the local ‘lady of the night’, as played by Twiggy. Cliff Richard liked the song and was given permission to change the lyrics to reflect a more religious theme.

How the times have changed since 1988….! I would have been at middle school at the time and I would have liked little more than having marbles in my stocking for Christmas. I doubt that many children nowadays have such items in their wish list to Santa, more likely some kind of games console or other mobile device. Sweets seem to have stood the test of time and I think most youngsters would still be content to find chocolate, a packet of Jelly Tots, Fruit Pastilles Smarties or something similar under the tree. However, I am sure that the generation before me used to talk about having oranges/satsumas in their stockings? Father Christmas must have changed his list of shops to visit when stocking up (‘scuse the pun) for the Christmas deliveries….

[The big day is almost upon us – have you spotted the hidden message in the titles of FWL blogs? Well done to those who have already worked it out – there are quite a few of you! – do email us if you think you know!]

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