Christmas 1978 will be memorable for two of the thousands of 'boat people' who have fled from Vietnam in the past year.
Christmas 1978 will be memorable for two of the thousands of 'boat people' who have fled from Vietnam in the past year. They are the children of the Trinh family, rescued in the South China Sea in October and sampling the atmosphere of a Christmas in London before moving to a permanent home outside the British capital.
SYNOPSIS: The traditional seasonal decorations in London's Regent Street. This year's lights depict 'The Spirit of Christmas'. Because of cost, there have been no lights for seven years. But money now flows freely in the West End stores.
The toys and decorations are a new experience for Quyen and Quang Trinh. Unlike most of the three hundred and forty-six Vietnamese picked up by the freighter Well Park who are Buddhists, they are Roman Catholics; so they are at least familiar with the celebrations of Christmas.
But while they may recognise the simpler toys on display in the stores, they have probably never seen the likes of this model fire engine. The cost -- nor than one thousand pounds sterling. (2,2250 US dollars). Or this scale model of Stephenson's Rocket, depicting the famous team engine built nearly one hundred and fifty years ago. Toys which the stores hope will end up bringing pleasure to some lucky children.
This diamond-encrusted tiara is undoubtedly destined for an older and very rich customer. Visitors from all over the world come to Britain to buy the jewellery on sale in the shops at Christmas. Most items are decorative, though some, like this gold-cased tooth-brush, have pretensions to practicality.
And Christmas is not just for humans. Since they arrived at Kensington Palace Barracks in London following an emergency operation mounted by the British Council for Aid to Refugees, the Well Park 'boat people' have received Christmas hospitality from all over Britain. Gifts and invitations to parties have been made by organisations ranging from taxi drivers to local mayors.
At a London hospital nurses and the mother of a child born at the beginning of the Christmas period sing carols to celebrate the infant Christ - and the new arrival.
At Westminster Children's Hospital, celebrations centre on the traditional figure of Saint Nicholas, the patron Saint of Christmas whose name has been corrupted to Santa Claus in English-speaking countries. Legends say he performed miracles, saving children from numerous tragedies.
So two months after being rescued from a sinking boat off the coast of Taiwan, Quyen and Quang Trinh find themselves in the middle of a western Christmas at the start of a new life in a strange country.