Christmas will have the W Factor this year!

Remember you're a Womble!
Remember you're a Womble!
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HAS it really come to this? Not only have The Wombles revealed that they are planning to go head to furry snout with The X Factor to have the number one single at Christmas, the Wurzels have now announced that they’ll be unleashing their first ever Yuletide album.

Within a matter of days two emails landed in my inbox that whisked me back to the mid-1970s, platform shoes and bell-bottomed trews.

Nostalgia indeed - but hits and memories I can happily live without.

Still, both had their fair share of glory in the decade of “novelty” songs; they were ideal for slurring the words to, having imbibed copious amounts of alcohol. No sitting in the park for us - we teenagers had village discos at which to get sozzled.

To be fair, the Wombles have enjoyed a revival this year, playing at Glastonbury in the summer.

And viewers of BBC4 will have seen The Wurzels, regular guests at various festivals including Glastonbury, playing a couple of their West Country ditties on the revived 1976 Top of the Pops shows each week.

So even though neither band is my cup of tea (or vodka ‘n’ lime as it would have been in the ‘70s), I would like to wish The Wurzels all the best for their album - and their festive single, a double A-side of Sleigh Ride and White Christmas. And good luck too, Wombles, with your re-release of Wombling Merry Christmas.

At least both will bring a much-needed blast of humour into this winter of austerity. Sing it! “We wish you a Wombling Merry Christmas...”

* “You do not smile with your eyes, Mr Savile,” a respected and senior former colleague once told Sir Jimmy Savile when he visited our home town in Lincolnshire.

She recounted this observation when she returned to the office but what his response was, if indeed there was one, I do not know.

But I do recall that in April 2007, while working for a south Leeds community newspaper, I encountered Sir Jimmy on the platform at Middleton Railway at the grand opening of the engine house.

He was jolly, co-operative and fun, waving a flag as we took pictures of him aboad the steam engine that blackened our clean shirts with tiny sooty marks.

The eyes are the window to the soul, they say, and Sir Jimmy often covered his with rose-coloured glasses. But his fund-raising record speaks volumes and the joy he gave to millions is beyond price.

* A couple of Courier readers have taken me to task over comments I made two weeks ago in relation to Steve Irwin.

My point was that, having grappled with crocodiles and all manner of other wild creatures, it was ironic that a mild-mannered ray felt threatened enough to jab Irwin through the heart with its barb.

The main point of my comment piece was that matadors have a choice whether they enter the bull ring; the bull does not. Steve Irwin diced with death on a few occasions by entering other creatures’ environments; not only that, he seemed to relish danger and once held his two-month-old baby in one arm while dangling a piece of meat in front of a crocodile with the other.

Contrast his behaviour with the reverence shown to wild creatures by our own, wonderful, softly spoken David Attenborough, who has reached the age of 85 by treating the stars of his shows with respect, deference and due consideration for their wild nature.