Christmas presents that bring the most joy. / SUR

A Christmas ball

PETER EDGERTON

Somebody asked me the other day what I considered to be the best Christmas present I ever received as a child. The answer came to me in a flash but the question encouraged me to go further and think about a top five of childhood Christmas gifts just for fun. Here it is.

At number five - a red cotton Liverpool football shirt with a separate white oval club badge which had to be sewn on by hand and a white number eight (Roger Hunt) which needed to be ironed onto the back. Every mother’s nightmare, I imagine, but I loved it and, if I recall correctly, was punished more than once for wearing it to school. Worth it, though.

My fourth favourite Christmas gift was a Batman cape which, truth be told, probably wasn’t much better quality than a bin liner but it gave me free licence to leg it around the neighbourhood singing “Dinaninaninanina.... Dinaninaninanina.... Batman!” at every opportunity. I didn’t get the tights, you’ll be pleased to hear.

At number three would have to be a toy called Haunted House which involved ghosts and monsters appearing randomly at windows of the residence in question and the players trying to shoot them down with plastic guns. It always inevitably descended into the players trying to shoot each other down with little plastic guns but the game itself was immense fun if you could stick to the rules for a while.

My second favourite Christmas present was Chad Valley Soccer. It was fairly primitive but, at the age of eight, so was I. You pulled levers and little plastic players kicked the ball (a silver bead) towards your opponent’s net where the goalkeeper didn’t stand a cat-in-hell’s chance of getting anywhere near the speeding projectile given that the mechanism that moved him was painfully slow and operated, generally speaking, by eight-year-old children. Scores of 15-12 were not uncommon. It never broke though, unlike Striker (players’ heads snapped off) and Big League (players’ legs snapped off). I never liked Subbuteo for reasons unclear.

And so, at number one (drum roll), the best Christmas present I ever received? Taadaa! - A ball. No really. This was no ordinary ball, however, as it was a bright orange leather affair containing an inflatable rubber bladder and laced up with a special tool which came with it. This type of ball was called a ‘casey’ around where we lived and was on the wish list of any right-thinking young lad. I played with it for hours and hours until, eventually, the leather became as frayed as my forehead where the aforementioned lace had made a few too many direct contacts.

Anyway, if this festive period brings you half as much joy as that ball did to me, then you’re in for a truly wonderful time.

A very merry Christmas, everyone.