It’s 1974. Last year the telly was off now and then, as were the lights, and sometimes, because Yorkshire Television engineers were striking, we could only tune into a very snow-stormed signal from Tyne Tees.
A year later, the UK was still in a bad way but on December 9th I was wishing away the remaining fortnight to my 8th birthday and accepting the inevitable trailing maelstrom of social unpleasantness I’d learned to call Christmas. The tree had shifted the telly a couple of feet to the left below the living room window and from its tinsel-bare, twisted sixties silver wire branches hung the most glorious array of gold, green, red and purple glass baubles that lived in the cardboard cross-sectioned box on top of the wardrobe for 11/12ths of the year. They were the seven year old’s equivalent of the finest works of Boucheron, Asprey, Faberge and Harry Winston suspended by silvered tendrils fresh from the workshops of Paul Storr and Paul de Lamerie. For me, right then, nothing, but nothing evoked luxury and indulgence more powerfully than those cheap glass ornaments.