A Child's Christmases in Wales

Synopsis: Young Owen recalls how, at Christmas 1983 when he was ten, his obsessively tidy mother and penny-pinching father hosted his two paternal uncles, garrulous carpet king Huw, perpetually attacking his ex-wife and with silent son Maurice in tow, and shambling out-of-it Gorwel. Huw brings a series of computer games, none of which work, whilst Mum steps on the Subbuteo set. Three years later and the annoying neighbors the Cadwallander boys are still charging the earth for their carol-singing, and Huw is still bitter about his ex-wife, but his gift of an artificial Christmas tree causes Mum to junk their real one. The uncles fall out over a game of Hungry Hippos and Huw's tree goes up in smoke, prompting the return of the real one. By 1989 the family has a phone and a color television. Huw brags that he fitted Tom Jones' new carpet and the Cadwallander boys have a CD out, but Gorwel gets into a fight trying to move them on. At least he wins his bet that it will be a white Christmas, though th
59 min


Silent night

Holy night

All is calm

All is bright...

Silent night

Holy night

Christmas 1983 was much the same

as every other year round our way,

with the "oh-so-sweet" voices

of the Cadwaladr boys

and the imminent arrival

of my father's family.

You could never be sure

my uncles would be on time.

In fact, they rarely were.

Uncle Haw was usually detained having

had an argument with another driver.

And Uncle Gorwel...

Well, Uncle Gorwel didn't have a car.

Or a bike.

In fact, we were never

absolutely confident

he'd still have the use of both his legs.

They were due at our house by 3.30,

but my mother began getting

the place ready well before that,

and by "well before that"

I mean September.

Alphabetical order.


Then lilac.

These days, they call this kind of thing

obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Who's been using the sink?

At that time,

it was known as housekeeping.

What's it going to look like

if they all turn up and the sink's wet?

Do you want people to think our family's

washing its hands all the time

cos we're always holding grubby things?

What are we, robbers?

Might as well be talking to myself here.

She is talking to herself.

One day, it'll be me

sitting around with my feet up.

I'm not sitting around,

I'm watching a film.

What are you watching?

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

What's it about?

Aliens come down,

cause a bit of bother, go home again.

- Any good?

- Er...

I didn't think much of it, to be honest.




Not the most exciting verse, this one.

Wasn't too bad when

there was just the two brothers.

Didn't I tell you we'd all regret the day

when Shirley Cadwaladr had quads?

Mum had been through eleven Hoovers

in the past five years.

When she went into Rumbelows,

she just asked for "the usual".

Your brothers are late.

They'll be here. Probably the traffic.

Gets busy Christmas Eve.


Carol singers! Settle up!

We've got a lot to get round.

If your uncles were the Three Wise Men,

the baby Jesus would still be

waiting for them now!


Merry Christmas, Hywel. Boys.

- How are your parents?

- Merry Christmas. That's 5.20, please.

5? You're joking!

You heard Hark The Herald Angels,

that's 3.80, and Silent Night is 1.40.

I thought the spirit of Christmas

was you give whatever you can.

Yes, we obviously agree with that,

but we do have to balance it

with turning a profit.


That's 5.20, please.

Merry Christmas.

Same to you.

We'll be back Christmas Eve next year,

around quarter past three?

Right, boys, let's go, let's go, let's go.

I blame the Tories.

Dad was always annoyed

at having to pay for things.

At church, he only put money

in the collection plate

if the vicar did a good joke

in the sermon.

- 5 that cost me.

- Oh!


Still, I suppose it's Christmas, eh?

Come here, Brenda.

Oh, Geraint, stop your nonsense,

haven't time for that.

Your brother will be here in a minute.

Put the kettle on.


Uncle Haw was dad 's older brother.

Merry Christmas, Geraint!

He ran one of the biggest carpet firms

in Wales

and was now involved in one of

the country's most bitter divorces.

Bren! Ha-ha!

One of his favourite phrases was,

"All's fair in love and war."

Another was, "I hate my wife."

Merry Christmas one and all.

Apart from one.

One exception, in a blouse

and high heels, eh, boy?

Hey, Maurice has been looking forward

to seeing Owen all week.

Maurice had hardly ever spoken

in the six Christmases I could recall.

- He didn't have to...

- Maurice...

...Uncle Huw talked plenty.

So I successfully sued him for 7,500.


That's the last time anybody will steal

any milk from my doorstep, eh?

Now, on to May.

Started with a bang.

Got a conservatory built. 3,500.

What is a conservatory exactly?

It's like a garden, but indoors.

They reckon by 1990

most people will be living in

conservatories rather than houses.

Oh! Sounds lovely.

Carpets are selling well, then, Huw?

Yes, like hot cakes.

Did you hear the ad on the radio?

If you want a carpet,

buy one from us.

Oh, good, that is.

Why haven't you got an ad

on the radio, Geraint?

Traffic wardens don't normally

advertise on the radio, Brenda.

Yes, we're sitting pretty financially.

Despite his mother's best efforts.

She spends like water, doesn't she, kiddo?

I said she pours it all down the drain,

doesn't she?

I said your mother's

a waste of space, isn't she?

Geraint, why don't you go down

the phone box and call Gorwel?

He's nearly half an hour late.

What, you haven't got a telephone

fitted yet?

No. No need.

Perfectly good public telephone.

It's only minutes away.


Dad always enjoyed a good walk,

even in the coldest weather.

Most mornings we walked

two miles to school.

It was only a mile away,

but he went the long way round on purpose.

Even putting the number in

teak quite a while.

To dial an international number,

you'd have to put most of the day aside.

Hello, is Gorwel there?


All that walking and he wasn't there!

Well, never mind.

Had a nice chat with his flatmate.

Why can't people have their own phones?


Why can't people just

have a tiny little phone?

That you could fit it in your pocket

and take it everywhere you go?

Ah, kids!

You really should make him

put a phone in, Bren.

Oh, you know Geraint.

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Mark Watson

Mark Andrew Watson (born 13 February 1980) is a British comedian and novelist. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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