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Carollers on Bikes!

1 December 2010

Bicycle in snow

In the immediate post-war years in the latter half of the 1940’s, the village where I grew up had a well supported church choir, at times 25 to 30 strong. In the first two weeks of Advent the choir would go round the village and surrounding district heralding the spirit of the season to people of the village and neighbouring community. Such a band of jolly carollers singing all the well known and popular Christmas carols, brought residents to their doorsteps, and quite often they would join in the well known verses themselves.  The choir did not go out every night, and this created an opportunity for some of us lads in the choir to, as it were, capitalise on such occasions  and bring the glad tidings to the more outlying dwellings and farmsteads, whom, we assumed, were not exactly short of a bob or two, and might fork out as much as half-a-crown to hear our angelic rendition of  ‘While Shepherds Watch’,  ‘O Come All Ye Faithfull’, ‘Good King Wenceslas’, ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ and always concluding with great emphasis on  the words to ‘Christmas is Coming’(our idea being as bona fide choristers, to be financially rewarded for and worthy of such musical endeavours at this festive time of the year).

So on the ‘free nights’, usually five of us, would ride our bikes and park up  where we believed and hoped to be well received and be rewarded for our enterprise with a handful of coins –anything from pennies to two shillings & sixpence (half crown). Sometimes we were invited in to sing a special request. After our rendition of ‘Away in a Manger’ we might even be rewarded with a glass of lemonade and a mince pie!  Most of the people we ‘entertained’ knew us and sometimes asked us who or what we were collecting for. Our answer was always the same – the church organ fund!

Back outside in the cold winter air, with our parked up bikes, headlamps fitted back onto the front of the handlebars (we used the lights to read our carol sheets by), we peddled off down the drive, farm track, lane or road to our next port of call.  At the end of our agreed singing rounds  we pedalled  back to one of our homes to count up and share our ‘earnings’, remembering of course to contribute five bob towards the organ fund.

Happy Christmas

Bike Father   December 2010

Author: H-B Designs

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