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Santa: The Missing Years

Stuart Bailie | 10:45 UK time, Monday, 28 November 2011

Like many of you, I have a set of Xmas memories that are summoned up by the seasonal classics of Slade, The Pogues and indeed 'Wombling Merry Christmas'. Just a few opening bars of these records can deliver amazing recall and the happiest situations.

However, there's one song that bothered my childhood. 'The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot' is an alarming picture of a kid who doesn't get his modest request of some soldiers and a drum. You can feel his upset and sense the burning tears of shame. His only resort is to go home to the busted toys from the previous Xmas.

The Nat King Cole version has a lot of poise and fancy strings. But I'm not sure Nat provides the emotional payload. Vera Lynn has the compassion and the deadly phrasing. When I hear her sing the line, "I feel sorry for that laddie, he hasn't got a daddy", I'm reminded of that childhood fear of losing a parent. After all, the song was written in 1937 when missing fathers were sadly common. Indeed the war-ravaged howl that was Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' movie uses the Vera version to set the tone. You'll not hear it much on the radio these days, and today's song-hacks are not going to handle something as emotionally complex.

I'm very glad that Saint Nick never missed my house, but I'd like to think that 'The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot' gave my Xmas that bit of extra appreciation.


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