My Christmas song today is ‘Mistletoe and Wine’. This a Christmas song made famous by Cliff Richard in 1988. The song was written by Jeremy Paul, Leslie Stewart, and Kath Strachan for a musical called ‘Scraps’, which was an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘The Little Match Girl’ set in Victorian London.
Cliff liked the song but changed the original lyrics to reflect a more religious theme (which the writers accepted). This song was Cliff Richard's ninety-ninth single and it became his twelfth UK Number 1 single. It became the highest-selling single of 1988. One of the record-breaking statistics often cited about Cliff Richard is his achievement of Number 1 hit singles in five consecutive decades.
I was brought up in an era when one was either a Teddy Boy or a Mod and either rode a motorbike or a Lambretta scooter. Even the hairstyles defined which social teenage group one belonged to. One had long, greasy hair with sideburns and a crease down the back of the head (Duck's Arse) instead of on top of it; whereas the Mods wore their hair neat and short and parted on the top left-hand side of their heads like their fathers always wore it. The clothes worn by the two groups could not have been more opposite either. The Teddy Boys wore jackets of Edwardian length that stretched past the knees, and trouser bottoms which tapered into narrow drainpipes. The Mods wore smart clothes that their fathers would have been as equally proud to be seen in. The Teddy Boys hailed the American pelvic mover, Elvis Presley, as their 'King of Song' (who many parents considered as being the son of the Devil), whereas the Mods gave their loyal support to the British singer, Cliff Richards. Cliff had that clean-cut boy-next-door image, and his quavering-lip singing pleased grandparents, parents, and teenage children in equal measure.
These two groups of teenagers were as different as chalk and cheese, and once every year, thousands of motorbikes and Lambretta scooter riders would converge in Brighton and meet up on the beach for a good, old Bank Holiday bust-up!
I was a Teddy Boy in my youth with all the trimmings apart from the motorbike. I never did manage to get to a ‘Brighton Beach Bank Holiday Bust-Up’ but I often made up for this by involving myself in regular Saturday night gang fights at Cleckheaton Town Hall.
I was naturally an Elvis fan, and as such, I grew into manhood with a ‘marmite’ dislike for the British ‘pretender’, Cliff Richards who tried to steal the King’s crown when Elvis was drafted into the U.S.A. Army (1958-1960), During Elvis’ two-year period of army service, Cliff tried his best to usurp ‘The King, but the Teddy Boys were having none of it! We kept on buying Elvis’s records and every time a group of us passed a café with a dozen Lambretta scooters parked outside in neat rows, and a dozen Mods drinking coffee inside, we’d topple the lead scooter to the ground and create a domino effect of collapsed scooters and broken mirrors. It was common for the scooters of Mods to have dozens of mirrors at each side of their steering wheel. It was just like the perfect set-up for 'an accident waiting to happen' whenever we saw the opportunity.
I would be in my mid-twenties before I was made to sit down for three minutes and listened to a current Cliff Richard’s record. That was when I was courting my first wife-to-be and had been convinced by her that she was a 'good woman’ and that her idol, Cliff, was a 'good singer’. I was most certainly proved wrong on the first count and the judges are still out about the merits of her second assertion.
Since I got older, and eventually changed my string tie for a satin one, before going open-necked in my old age, I have managed to find half a dozen songs sung by Cliff that I like among his hundred-plus of hit records over the past sixty years. Today’s Christmas song, ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ is one such example. Hoping that your Christmas is turning out pleasurable.
Love and peace Bill and Sheila xxx