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Party Like it's 1979 was the twelfth story in the Christmassy Tales anthology written by Paul Magrs. It featured elements from Bafflement and Devotion, In the Sixties, and The Story of Fester Cat.


Nearly forty years on, in a café, Paul Magrs writes in his journal about Christmas-time, 1979.

In the holidays, it often snowed heavily, causing the local school to close due to both teachers and students to being unable to attend. Despite this, Paul had to do some school work, which, as far as Paul could remember, consisted of some sums, nature study, and a fair amount of writing. Paul still feels like he's writing stories which he started back then.

Paul remembers how his Mam bought fragrant foods for Christmas. He and his Mam had gone to the Fine Fare superstore on Friday, with a shopping trolley that they had salvaged and cleaned up. On Christmas Day, after Paul's Mam bought as many presents as she could, they were delivered by Santa Claus. Later, as they watched the telly, they ate many snacks. Paul remembers how a week before Christmas, when he visited his aunts and grandparents, they would say that Santa had arrived early to deliver Paul's presents.

Only recently, Paul had remembered how when he was four, he had acted ungrateful about what he got for got at Christmas, his Mam had decided to teach Paul a lesson, so she had taken him to see the poor family from Glasgow, to show Paul how little they got. Unexpectedly, the parents had taken the Ladybird Book of Dinosaurs they had just gifted their son and they gave it to Paul. Both Paul and his Mam had felt extremely upset and guilty about it, and even now, Paul feels guilty whenever he sees pictures of a dinosaurs in books.

While Paul knew that his Mam really did the hard work, not Santa and his magic, there was a sort of "Santa" in Newton Aycliffe: the "Council Van Santa", who would go around the streets in a van made to look festive. Paul remembers how everybody on his street came outside to see this Santa, wishing each other a Merry Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Mam put on Pinky and Perky's Christmas Album, they drank some ginger wine made by Big Nanna, had some soup for dinner, and watched Disney Time and were perhaps visited by "Council Van Santa", before an early bedtime so Paul could read last year's annuals, all while in anticipation of Christmas.


Referenced only[]


  • There are after-Christmas sales in Darlington.
  • Paul and his Mam use the Christmas issues of the Radio Times and the TV Times to help them decide, in the time before Betamax.

Newton Aycliffe[]

  • For Paul's nature work, he had to go down to the Burn.
  • The Newton News printed an ETA for when the Council Van Santa would arrive in each street.

Paul Magrs[]

  • Paul is entering his fiftieth year.
  • The shopping trolley that Paul and his Mam owned had been nicked from the shop that originally owned it. The vandal who stole it had sent it rolling down Burn Lane. Paul cleans it with wire wool.
  • Paul and his Mam had a Golden Retriever called Duke.
  • Paul has a few aunts and grandparents.
  • Paul started having doubts about the existance of Santa when he saw a heap of presents on top of his Mam's wardrobe, combined with how he noticed that naughty children got presents.

Paul's Mam[]

  • Paul's Mam liked to buy presents for her family as when she was little, she didn't get many presents, despite her mother's efforts.
    • Paul's Mam and her twin sister usually got a handful of sweets, a Disney Annual, and something to share with her sister, One year, this present was a doll, and when the sisters were teenagers, they got a Dansette record player.
  • One year, Paul's Mam had a thing for purchasing stationary as presents, including pens, books, pencils, pencil sharpeners, bulldog clips, elastic bands, felt pens, and Tipp-ex, as well as a "Page-a-Day Diary" from Boots.

Food and drink[]

  • Paul's Mam bought Swiss rolls, corned beef, fruit, veg, and nuts, such as Brazil nuts.
  • As they watch the telly, they eat snacks such as Aeros, Lion Bars, Topics, Glees, Monster Munch, and Space Raiders. They also eat Cheese and onion toasties, made in a Toastie maker.
  • Big Nanna makes non-alcoholic ginger wine. It's made from blackcurrant jelly which is left to dissolve in boiling water with bagfuls of sugar and ginger essence.
  • Paul's Mam maks tomato soup for tea.

The Doctor Who series[]


to be added