Mistletoe imports – anyone out there remember the Southampton trade?

Radio interview with BBC Radio Solent this morning. Usual mistletoe stuff – though I was a wee bit flustered as I was on late, with an echoey ISDN line, ‘cos Radio Gloucestershire’s normal ISDN studio had been double-booked (one day I’ll get the hang of these unsupervised ISDN links – but have had several dodgy experiences with poor sound before – so am always a tad nervous – this time I had loadsa slider controls to play with – but at least they told me which were the best ones to use – which just reminded me of Slartibartfast’s note to Arthur Dent – ‘This is probably the best button to press’ when fleeing from the mice) (anyone who doesn’t understand this comment should refer to BBC Radio 4, Douglas Adams, c. 1980).

Anyway, the point to record here is this – mistletoe was, and still is, imported in large quantities to the UK at Christmas from France and Belgium. The trade has been going on for well over 100 years to feed our kissing obsessions (the French, of course, don’t need artificial excuses for kissing…). So I took the opp to ask the good listener(s) of R. Solent if they had any reminiscences of the historic imports at Southampton Docks (see pic below – click to enlarge it). This trade, once a feature of cargo ships, is now transported in the backs of lorries, vans and trailers on cross-channel ferries – so stats and info are hard to find. But there must be someone out there with recollections of the old-style imports? Do tell…

Mistletoe from France being unloaded at Southampton Docks in 1932 – the ladies don’t look like stevedores – I assume they’re only there for the photo… Posted by Hello