THE late, great Greg Lake once sang words that have stayed with me all my life: 'the Christmas you get you deserve'.

This year I will say a prayer for those in the Trump household.

The new film The Man Who Invented Christmas reveals how Charles Dickens made us all think about how we treat others - especially those less fortunate than ourselves.

Every record-breaking Merseyside Santa Dash, Toy Appeal and collection for the homeless stems from the great novelist's caring ideology.

Sadly, many of us can't seem to shake off the materialistic side of modern Yuletide.

According to recent tinsel-coated surveys people are fraught by the thought of shopping for the "right" present.

One poll by Christmas Tree World said a stress ball was one of the most-in-demand presents sought by adults.

Meanwhile, finance company Myjar say many of us have a good old whine because of the burden felt around gift-giving.

There is hope on the snow-covered horizon as the Royal Voluntary Service found one-in-five of us plan to do some form of voluntary work over the coming festive weeks.

So let's widen the net.

I am a supporter of the People's Postcode Lottery where my monthly tenner helps out a wide range of charities.

This week I received a surprise gift from their HQ – a thank-you advent calendar and each window tells me where my money goes.

It's only December 6 and it’s been revealed my humble subs have helped buy holidays for people with Alzheimer’s; Care for more than 3,000 horses and ponies for the Riding for Disabled Association.

AND talking of postcodes, First Class compliments to the Wirral Scouts and Girl Guides Postal Service, which has been a unique beacon for good causes for the past 35 years.

This charity has the inferno stamp of approval – it deserves a Wirral Civic Award.

I have chatted to members of the team and been impressed by the scale of their operation and the enthusiasm of its volunteers – whole families.

Now that is what I call real community work.

And sometimes sorters need to be detectives.

One letter was marked simply "house next to the skip." 

It is truly astonishing that 19 charities will benefit from this service.

Well done to a finely-tuned Wirral operation.

Let's hope we never, ever hear the Last Post.


BLESS our other mail service.

My brother recalls when he was a postman in the 1960s; Merseyside received Christmas cards from across the world addressed to: "Paul McCartney, Liverpool."

The then GPO sent them on to the Beatle.

As a reporter I will never forget seeing an area of the main sorting depot called "heartbreak corner" where toys were sent that had a wrong or non-existent address.

I can still see a teddy bear sitting forlornly on top of a compendium of games (remember them?).

Presents that, sadly, never made their destination.

I feel a John Lewis advert coming on.

So the moral here is ... don't forget your postcode.


PAUL O'Grady has his latest memoir, Country Life, out now and it's bound to be a stocking-filler in the next sock to those wanting Paul Hollywood's A Baker's Life.

Personally, I miss Paul's alter ego - Lily Savage - who made her stage debut 40 years ago next year.

There is no sign that Paul's beautifully-labelled Birkenhead Blonde Bombsite will leave the nunnery where he has retired her.

Yet we still have Lily's philosophy to make us smile.

I once appeared in an episode of Brookside with Lily and in the green room afterwards we talked about Christmases past.

She talked about the traditional dinner – a memory which later appeared in a cracking little book called Festive Wit alongside the likes of Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw.

Lily had this advice from her own Wirral childhood.

"If your pudding is loaded with coins and thimbles then be sure to tell your guests.

"One year I forgot to mention it and our Vera ended up in casualty.

"They found a watch, two holy medals and two pound, ten shillings and six pence in change in her stomach."


'I'M Listening' was Frasier Crane's catchphrase.

I just hope the legendary Kelsey Grammar who played him thinks carefully about bringing back the sitcom.

The US star who is currently starring in Big Fish in the West End says he has been 'in talks' about the a re-boot of the series where he played the radio shrink for 20 years, first in Cheers then the spin-off.

He allegedly wants to re-unite the original cast. Frasier, currently being repeated on C4, often advised his patients never to go back and recreate past relationships when the magic had gone.

The Muppets' composer Paul Williams best summed up this romantic scenario: "We can get back to the place - but not the time."

And besides you will never find another Eddie, the loveable stare-crazy Jack Russell.


AND finally ... Del Boy is alive and well.

When Prince Harry announced his engagement, an aptly-named "mug" for £19.95 was on sale within 24 hours.

Ideal to sip royal-tea.

As for David Jason, his star is still shining since Only Fools and Horses last appeared on our festive screens.

When asked what voice people wanted as their celebrity 'sat nav' the much-loved David is in the top ten behind Sir David Attenborough (turn left at the next Gorilla).

I'd prefer Ken Dodd – he'd drive me home with a smile on my face.

Peter Grant