SNOW was sliding from the rooftops and adding to the drifts on pavements as my mother, dad, and a dear old aunt picked our perilous way along icy streets.
We made this pilgrimage every Christmas to visit old friends of my parents, Amy and Sid Jones, but we hardly saw them at all throughout the year so there was always lots to catch up on. I always knew them as Aunt Amy and Uncle Sid, though they were not blood relatives.
Amy was a rosy cheeked, plump little woman and Sid a big jovial man with a ready smile and a great sense of humour who loved a joke.
After what seemed like an eternity we arrived at the neat terraced little house.
The door was opened by Amy in her best pinny with a flour covered tea towel in one hand. Smiling broadly she embraced mom and dad and gave me one of her sloppy kisses.
Having kicked the snow from our shoes we hung up our coats in the hallway and entered the living room.
Mom and dad eagerly accepted a glass of mulled ale each and there was a orange juice for me.
The memory of the savoury smell of Aunt Amy's cooking and the warmth of the room after our Arctic trek will stay with me for ever.
There was an assortment of friends and relatives all chatting away excitedly and picking at snacks and other goodies laid out in buffet style on a long table.
This was luxury indeed in those days just after the war when people had to scrimp and mend and make do. The home-made decorations and Christmas tree set the whole atmosphere off to perfection.
There was another boy there about my age who introduced himself as Jim. We hit it off from the start and had a lot in common, such as collecting stamps and swapping school stories etc.
Giving me a mischievous wink Jim said: "Let's have a bit of fun."
"How do you mean?"I replied.
"Well, I know Mrs Jones is a great believer in ghosts and all that sort of thing.
"Mr Jones keeps loads of old sheets in the shed to cover floors when he's decorating."
"How would we go about it?" I asked.
"Well, we'd have to keep an eagle eye on Mrs J. and at the first sign of her pulling on her coat to cross the yard for the toilet we'd have to nip out sharply unseen before her.
"We could both get under a big sheet, wait in shadows, then leap out and jump about a bit."
With my imagination working overtime I fell about laughing.
"Let's do it," I said.
Within an hour of hatching our plan we got our cue when the good lady reached for her coat.
Not many houses had indoor loos in those days.
We were about to spring into action when Mr Jones grabbed each of us by the shoulder.
"Come on, you two strong fellas, give me a lift with this table, it won't take a minute."
But a minute was long enough to spoil our plot, so we lost our chance.
In those days kids did as they were told without question.
A little while later the door leading to the yard burst open and a pale faced and tight lipped Mrs Jones stumbled in, knocking over a couple of drinks as she slumped into a chair.
"My God, what's the matter, love?" asked Uncle Sid.
"You look like you've seen a ghost."
"I think I have. I'm sure I have," she stammered. "Too much gin," somebody shouted, among much laughter.
Regaining her composure a little she said: "What I saw was down by the fence.
"A white shapeless blob. Just like someone prancing about under a sheet."
Jim and I looked at each other in total disbelief.
Had somebody had the same idea of a joke and beaten us to it?Or had she seen a real ghost!
Heaven only knows what she saw, but there was one thing for certain, it wasn't us!