It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s been an extremely busy week as the preparations for Christmas gather pace.  Last Sunday was the second time I have helped host the Swansea Christmas Parade and once again it was a stunning event.  The weather was remarkably good, and you really could feel the excitement in the crowds as they waited to see the Jolly little round man in red. (I’m not talking about me although I did turn up in a red puffer jacket.)

Swansea Christmas Parade with the DVLA Ladies Choir.

I think what astounded me was the amount of effort that had gone into the costumes and floats. I suppose it’s no surprise that the Swansea Pantomime float looked amazing.  It’s a professional theatre production with our Kev Johns dressed to the nines as Pantomime Dame.  What really amazed me was the amount of effort that must have gone into the costumes worn by young people’s theatre companies, scout and guides groups and football and rugby clubs.

As I stood on the stage outside the Dragon Hotel all I saw was a sea of smiling faces both in the parade and also in the crowd.  When Santa and Mrs Claus finally arrived to switch on the lights and also set off a magnificent firework display I couldn’t but help feel an enormous sense of civic pride.  Swansea Council and everyone who was a part of making the Parade such a success should take a well-earned bow.

But that was just the start of my Christmas week and it wasn’t the only time I was meeting up with Santa and Mrs Claus.

A few weeks ago I met up with the Christmas couple to take some photographs for the new ‘Everyone Deserves a Christmas’ record. Finding the right location is always the most important first step. My problem was I needed to find a location that would be Christmassy enough in November for us to film the complete video.

I knew Parc Le Breos would be ideal, so I gave them a call.  It soon became clear I knew the manager Nicci Spencer.  I could not believe how positively and enthusiastically she and the whole team at Parc Le Breos took to the idea. 

Decking the Halls with Boughs of Holly…

Now the Charity is an amazing project but when you’re running a successful Hotel and Restaurant, and someone rings up asking can you close for an evening so we can film a charity video…well that’s quite a big ask.

Having agreed in principle it then came down to dates.  The Cabin for the first photoshoot wasn’t so much an issue as they had a free date early in November.  On the afternoon I arrived with Dan the Cameraman, Nicci and Ceri from Parc Le Breos had literally turned it into Santa’s grotto.  I have to say when Santa and Mrs Claus turned up they felt right at home.

Next question…so when will the Hotel put up the trimmings and would there be a free night?

The Christmas House Party at Parc Le Breos

Nicci told me that there was a Christmas themed wedding at the end of this week so how about they closed the hotel on Tuesday and spend Monday and Tuesday getting the decorations up. All I could say was…thank you.

When I arrived late on Tuesday afternoon most of the work had been done.  The Hotel was festooned in fairy lights and the inside of the Hotel looked like something out of Country Living Magazine’s Christmas Edition. More importantly the staff had all stayed on and were starting to get dressed in Christmas jumpers and party hats…ready for their close ups.

As well as Santa and Mrs Claus, lots of house guests and plenty of kids I also wanted to remember the ‘reason for the season’ but how to do that without going too ‘Songs of Praise’?

Rev Peter Lewis conducts the Choir of Angels

As I sat in the lounge, in front of the roaring fire it struck me…it might be good to have a vicar. But where was I going to find one at short notice?    So at 3 pm I rang the local parish priest, The Rev Peter Lewis and invited him to join us.  He told me he had a Bible study to lead half way through the evening but up until 7pm he was all mine. Hallelujah!

As the sun disappeared and the final strands of Fairy Lights were wound around the tree outside the front door we were all set.

We had everything, a cast of dozens, lights and cameras.  It was then I suddenly realised the responsibility on my shoulders to get all of the shots we needed for the video. At that moment I remembered a famous quote from the legendary film Director Alfred Hitchcock…

‘I never said all actors are cattle; what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle.’

I think he was very wrong; I always think when you’re trying to get a lot of people to do exactly what you want on film its more like herding cats. 

Having said that, my ‘company’ of actors were first rate.  If I told them they needed to smile more they smiled more.  If I said in this scene you are listening carefully to Santa as he plans Christmas 2023 you need to give it your best serious face. When we needed someone to conduct our choir all I had to do is ask Rev Lewis and he was soon waving his hands around just like another son of Penclawdd Sir Karl Jenkins.

Mrs Claus took charge of the kitchen and together with the Parc Le Breos team cooked plates of Mince Pies and Brownies…which of course had to be eaten for the sake of the video.

Santa sharing his Plans for Christmas.

As I drove away, still licking my lips, I knew we had done something quite special with a group of very special people. We had made a film but also we had created some memories I don’t think any of us will forget anytime soon.  The past day or so I’ve been locked in the edit suite getting everything together for the Video launch next Friday.

The week ended as it began with switching on more Christmas Lights.  I think it’s brilliant that so many communities in the region have their own events to make the lights ‘switch on’ so special. It shows that no matter what some would have you believe our community spirit is alive and well. 

Singing at the Mumbles Christmas Lights Switch On.

I’ve been involved with the Mumbles Lights switch on from its earliest days, so on Thursday evening it was good to be back with likes of the Mumbles Lifeboat Singers, Good for the Soul Choir and Mums the Word.

Now my attention turns to next Friday’s launch of ‘Everyone Deserves a Christmas 2023’.  If you can join us at Swansea Market at Midday you’ll hear the young people from Pentrehafod School, The DVLA Ladies Choir and I’ll be there singing the new record as well.

It certainly is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

1 thought on “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”

  1. Sounds Like Swansea is well on the way to another Happy Christmas. Well done yet again Mal its people like you make the spirit of good will flow. Have a happy peaceful family time…& marvellous New Year …

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