A Victorian Christmas

HMS Victory, Portsmouth Naval Dockyard

HMS Victory, Portsmouth Naval Dockyard (Photo credit: EEPaul)

I have a certain reputation for being Mr “bah humbug” when it comes to Christmas, and yet my wife and I spent last weekend down in Portsmouth specifically to visit the Victorian Christmas fair in the historic Naval Dockyards. It is a magnificent setting combining an old Naval base, some magnificent old ships and all the Victorian trimmings of Christmas.

Trawling through a busy marketplace is not normally my idea of fun and yet the Christmas stalls at the fair were varied enough to be interesting, and I tucked into mulled wine like the best of them. As we walked around, there were loads of people dressed up in Victorian costume. From the bawdy wenches who gave me a hard time as I walked past to the guards and their convicts in manacles who marched around the place shouting “make way for innocent men.”

We paid a visit to Fagin’s tavern where various old-time music acts played. We were treated to Brian, the charming but slightly crap piano player taking us through his repertoire of Christmas tunes. After Brian, on came a Bavarian oompah band, who wanted far too much audience participation for our comfort, especially seeing as we were sat in the front row.

Everywhere we went, someone was either bursting into song or dancing or both. A bunch of orphans with their thumbs tucked into their armpits gave a he artful rendition of “Consider yourself” as artificial snow cascaded down on their heads. There was an excellent band of pipers marching up and down belting out some cracking tunes whilst everyone tried desperately to dive out of their way.

There was an antique shop on site which was packed to the rafters with amazing stuff. They had a magnificent array of weaponry including a surface to air missile and an AK47. There was a German MG34 dating from Word War 2 with my name on it, but my wife didn’t agree. I suppose it was a tad expensive at the best part of £7,000.

She did buy me my Christmas present though. A truly magnificent, atmospheric three-part painting by Rob Huxley which will look awesome in my newly decorated games room.

All in all, it was over far too quickly, and I might have felt the first stirrings of Christmas welling up inside me. I’ll have to learn more self-control.



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