Let us bring him silver and gold
The expense of Christmas
We’d have a piggy box. And diddly clubs. You paid so much a week, you’d have 10 people for example – a diddly – and they’d all decide to put in a certain amount, say a pound; then you’d make a draw, and whichever name came out, they’d get the money that week; then, you had to keep paying your 10 pound – you might be the last to get it, and then you might not get it, it might not go to the last. That was a diddly club; friends or people who worked together had a diddly club.
We had a chemist club. I worked up in Jeyes when I was 14, and that was the chemist club, same thing, you put your money in
Mrs. Teeling had a perm club. 10 women would pay 2 and 6, and there was a draw, and whoever got number 1, you’d get your piece of paper and you’d go in.
John’s mother and his sister would both be in; they’d get their number, but they’d wait until both had their piece of paper. Then, coming up to Christmas, they’d go in and have they hair permed, in Charles’ salon in Berkeley Road – that was a big thing, they would usually wash their hair in carbolic soap, so this was huge, they’d be talking about it for weeks, ‘we’re going to go and get our perm done in two weeks, in one week’, and then they’d come out and they’d complain, ‘that perm won’t hold! She did a shocking job there, you got a lovely cut Maggie, I got a shocking one, I lay down last night and I got up this morning it was in bits’.
Diddly clubs, chemist clubs, perm clubs were all seasonal, and went on for a number of weeks, but we also used to collect the Green Shields stamps.
There was gentleman coming round our part of Finglas, his name was Mr. Solomon and he went to many houses and used to give people a loan of 10 pound for Christmas, and he would come around every Friday, and he was never rolled over. He’d come to the door, and you’d pay real quick, because you would be afraid that Mr So and So up the road would see him coming to your door – everybody knew who he was. He would charge you interest, of course , but if you hadn’t got it, well everybody was very decent and genuine in those days.
But people were well organised for Christmas. My grandmother made Christmas puddings, about five, but she would be buying the stuff from September. Every week she would buy currants, or sultanas, or stout, or breadcrumbs or whatever and then the pudding cloth. In the house, there used to be wallpaper on the wall up to a certain height. When the puddings were on, the house would be full of steam; the wallpaper would start to peel off, and my grandfather would start complaining: ‘those bloody puddings again!’ She would be making them for her sister, and others, ‘tell them to make their own bloody puddings! They don’t have to put up with this steam!’ he’d say. Steam would be everywhere…
Then, there was the credit union by the church – St. Canice’s Tontine Society. A number of men from Finglas set up that little credit union, and that’s where we got our loans for Christmas. These men included Mr. Curley, and my grandad Mr. Chaney. It was in Finglas East, at the back of Canice’s Church, and that’s where a lot of people would get their money for Christmas too.
It wasn’t unusual of a Monday morning to see ladies getting on the bus with pillow cases, going to Brereton’s Pawn in Capel Street. And the same people would be going every week, and sometimes the stuff was heavy, so if they sat you on your way to school they’d ask, ‘would you bring this up to the bus stop for me?’ All kinds of stuff would be going into the pawn, just for the week, and a lot of people lived like that, Monday to Friday.
(Collective, from the booklet Stories from Finglas)