Time to wrap up the festivities

SO have you taken your decorations down yet?

James Marston

SO have you taken your decorations down yet?

I have, I was desperate for a hoover through and a decent dust so it all had to come down.

And anyway every time I shut the door in my small Felixstowe salon with sea views (distant) cards scattered everywhere making the place look untidy - stuff the 12 days of Christmas, they had to go.

Now reassuringly back to normal all I have left to remind me of the festive season is a bumper box of chocolates which I doubt will last the week, a large credit card bill which will last until March and a weight gain of several pounds which may well last longer.

Thank goodness it's only once a year eh?

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Of course, for those of you who regularly read my weekly newspaper column you'll be wanting to know how my organ playing went during midnight holy communion at the small but ancient church of St James in the small but ancient village of Icklingham in the west of the county.

Well, despite some timing issues with Joy to the World and one exciting moment when I almost but thankfully didn't start playing the wrong carol, I received a standing ovation from the congregation - well they clapped at the end though I think they might have been standing up anyway for the vicar anyway.

So much of a success was this public performance that Dorothy, a church stalwart who remembers my christening back in the mid 1970s when everything was orange and brown, booked me for the 2009 service.

A brave move I thought, what with this recession and all other predictions of doom and gloom because who knows where we'll be this time next year? Though I doubt the church will go bust, there's always a bit of silver they can flog if push comes to shove.

Of course Christmas is a magical and mysterious time isn't it?

In fact it's so mysterious I've got a few festive queries that you might be able to help me solve.

- So what did you get for Christmas? Any unusual gifts? Did anyone get anything they actually wanted?

- How sickened were you by the overt commercialism of what began as a pagan mid winter festival thousands of year ago?

- Do you really believe poor baby Jesus was born surrounded by sheep and cattle in the bleak midwinter without so much as a winter fuel payment?

- What is myrrh? And why does every small child call frankincense Frankenstein? And why is every parent I've ever met so keen to tell everyone else of this obvious and stupid mistake?

- And who was Good King Wenceslas anyway and how does he fit in to all of this?

Do drop me a line.

DID you see the Queen's lovely piano in her Christmas message?

I thought it was such a shame she didn't ask me just to tinkle the ivories in the background and just add a bit of ambience with a spot of Bert Bacharach.

Perhaps she didn't want to be upstaged.

Anyway I probably wouldn't have been able to make it. I had a prior engagement eating pastry-based nibbles.

I think Her Majesty does well though don't you?

Year after year for more than half a century she's successfully managed to say almost nothing of note and still they give her a peak slot in the Christmas schedule.

But it's always colourful viewing and whenever our Queen is on TV my 94-year-old grandmother Marston always comments on how she had a second family didn't she?

And what lovely jewels and furniture she's got before wondering who does her hair.

As regular readers will know I'm a bit of a fan of the Royal family, indeed, if I were prime minister I'd build a new royal yacht - a country like Britain should have one don't you think? Norway manages it and so does Denmark.

Now don't forget, dear readers, today is the perfect day to download my 2009 downloadable calendar.

Free and credit crunch beating, it is full of stunning images of me, it is a wonderful addition to any kitchen wall.

All you have to do is visit our website www.eveningstar.co.uk click on my column and you'll find it there.

There's even a picture of me with my plain speaking photographer friend Lucy.

Happy New Year to you all.

James' Mailbag:-

Dear Readers,

Clearly if there's something I don't know I shall have to ask Peggy Cole!

I was most fascinated by this week's letters and I shall be looking out for a copy of The Suffolk Dialect of the 20th Century as it's just the sort of thing that interests a wordsmith like me.


Dear James,

I HAVE just read your column referring to the expression “hicking along”.

I have in my possession a book entitled The Suffolk Dialect of the 20th Century (Third Edition) by A O D Claxton. Published by Norman Adlard & Co, 33 Upper Orwell Street, Ipswich 1968.

This gives the following definitions:

Hick: To hop on one leg.

Hicked Along: Walked lamely.

I hope this information will be helpful to you.


Springfield Road,


Dear James,

IN answer to your question about the expression “to hick along” as far as I know it means to be lame, so having an uneven gait.

You should have asked Peggy Cole! She'd know.

Thank you for your column, it's nice to have something light-hearted in the midst of all the bad/serious news.

Mrs A…. (I couldn't read your name)

Walnut Tree Farm,


Dear James,

I NOTED with interest your mention in your newspaper column of the word “hick” or “hicking”.

This is a word that was quite common in the 40's and referred to a person with a leg disability. For instance “he was a hicking along” meaning he was walking lamely or limping. Hick was often used to describe someone who was hopping along on one leg.

In my younger days I lived quite close to Ward Green, Old Newton and remember a man who lived in an old cottage on the right at the top of the green.

He kept donkeys and he also used to hick along. His name was Hickey Farrow. Perhaps some of your older readers would remember him I would be very interested.

Finally can I recommend “Suffolk Dialect of the 20th Century” by A O D Caxton in it you would find hick between hewd (past tense of to hold, pronounced howd) and hickin(g) to kick a scooter along.


Gt Bentley,


Ps Peggy Cole would have known!

Dear James

I read with interest your column about the word “hick”.

In the Oxford dictionary the meaning of hick refers to a farmer. In America the people who come from the provinces and have bad manners, speech and narrow views are called hicks.

I think hicking about is a Suffolk saying. I can remember years ago when I had a slipped disc and trying to get to the bedroom my husband said “You get into bed and I'll do the hicking about”

Maybe someone else has another idea.

I agree with you, there is nothing more delicious than one of Peggy Cole's Suffolk rusks.


Maisie Tuckwell.