Cigars and nuts are the aspect of Christmas to which the oldest man in Leeds, Mr. Hall, aged 96, of Zetland Place, Harehills, most looks forward.
The nuts, really, are Mr. Hall’s little joke.
He claims to be growing a new set of teeth and promises to demonstrate the fact by cracking nuts with them at Christmas. But the cigars are a much more serious matter.
Mr. Hall finds life a dullish business now that he can’t get about and can’t see to read. Cigars are one of his few remaining pleasures. Most of the year, like the rest of us, he has to content himself with his pipe.
But Christmas is the season of cigars!
Mr. Hall only gave up work three years or so ago. He helped with the scenery at the Grand Theatre, mixing colour and preparing canvas. It was his eyes that beat him. His spirit is unbeaten yet.
“I’m alright, only for my eyes,” he says “I could go on working, but for them”.
Now he has to sit by the fire all day; because, though he is still strong on his legs, he can’t get far afield because of some trouble with his feet. It is a sad fate for an old man whose heart is undefeated and the enforced inactivity makes him sometimes fretful.
“Christmas?” he said to our reporter.
“It’s much as any other time to me. I shall have to sit here. The good old days? I don’t know that they were any better. We had to work a great deal harder then. Perhaps it’s me who is different.”
Mr. Hall hails from Leicestershire and he started work when he was six - scaring crows from growing crops for a few pennies a week.
When he was 12 he left home and became apprenticed to an ironmoulder at Staveley. He has lived in Leeds for 20 odd years.
He has seen 96 Christmases but he still looks forward to Christmas presents, a drink and a cigar.
He appreciates Christmas cards too, and is hoping to receive them from a sister at Nottingham and a brother at Grimsby, both of whom are, like himself, nonagenarians.