Opinion: Great British tradition that must never die out

Well it’s all over bar the shouting as we say in Yorkshire. The kitchen resembles a disaster area, the dustbin is full to overflowing, the red wine stain on the carpet is nearly gone and the mother-in-law is moving on to cause mayhem at her other son’s.

The cast of Dick Whittington at Scarboroughs Spa Theatre
The cast of Dick Whittington at Scarboroughs Spa Theatre

The shops are open to get batteries for the toys that didn’t work and had bits missing, and the lace undies are parcelled up to exchange for some thermal vests.

The smell of that obnoxious scent the buyer insisted you spray from top to toe has nearly disappeared from your favourite jacket and the new television has just been reset after that horrible child from next door pushed every button in sight.

But despite all this, plus a lighter bank balance, horrendous hangovers, bulging waistlines and chronic dyspepsia, everyone admits to have had a very merry Christmas.

Quite a brave statement to make don’t you think, considering the garbage that has been churned out over the past few weeks by those who would have us believe that everything we do at Christmas is bad for our health, immoral, has dire consequences or is just plain old fashioned and should be changed drastically.

For this year more than any other I can remember there seems to have been more party poopers around yelling ‘Bah! Humbug!’

Thankfully there is at least one piece of tradition that the ‘do as I sayers’ have not got their hands on and I hope they never do. I am referring to the uniquely British tradition of pantomime.

All over the country audiences flock to see pantomimes. For some people it’s their only visit to the theatre in a whole year. For many children it’s their first theatre experience, while others grow up never seeing any other kind of show.

Anyone who has ever played pantomime will tell you it is a most wonderful experience. Until I left the UK I never missed playing pantomime. Starting as a timid babe at three and graduating to a professional Sunbeam in one of the Yorkshire’s leading theatres, I progressed to the Cinderellas, Maid Marions and Princesses until finally I was a thigh-slapping principal boy for over eight years!

Alas, I never did manage to be a fairy or wicked queen but I am secretly hoping that someone will give me a chance one day to be a true fairy-godmother or an evil induced wicked queen!

The fact we all love excuses to go back to childhood is the secret of panto’s success and it’s a tradition – ‘Oh yes, it is’ – that must never be allowed to change or die.

As we head towards the New Year we are all looking forward to what it has in store for us, but me being me, I would just like to offer these words of wisdom – bachelors watch out, there’s a Leap Year about.