Father Christmas, with his wages in a small red sack to his right, totally failing to pull the wool over the eyes of Sir Owen of Leeds Castle and the Broomfield Exit. The Elf on the right has just been pushed through a window into this picture.
They do say you live and learn. They do. And now after eight years I find myself being Father Christmas AGAIN down at Leeds Castle. Eight years of donning the red suit and the white beard, all those ho-ho-ho's and all those happy children. And also all the unhappy ones, the minuscule little toddlers, heads already stuffed full of advice from parents, advice like "don't talk to strangers", or "don't take sweets from strangers", or even "look out for strange characters". And then they find themselves in a room which looks like it's been decorated by members of the band Parliament and introduced to a rotund strangers in bright red outfit and a massive beard and ordered to tell this figure their deepest desires and also to accept presents from him. No wonder so many of them scream and hide behind their parents legs. And don't forget the embarrassed ones. Kids who have reached an age of maturity where this sort of demeaning childish outing is now the nadir in their development. How I love to embarrass the hell out of them. Or the smart arse kids. The ones who are "precocious" (i.e. spoilt little shits) and say something rude to Santa and get a guffaw of laughter from the parents when really a vicious elbow in the ribs would be more agreeable. And speaking of parents, what about the pushy/moody/never-bloody-satisfied parents? The ones who however long you spend with their child it is never enough, they always want more, or one more photo, and all this time there is a legion of other irate parents outside the grotto, desperate to get in and slake the blood lust of Christmas greed in their children. It sort of makes you and your Elves feel like gaudily dressed defenders of some tinsel-bedecked Rorkes Drift. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, but I feel I am reaching the end of the line. This could be, as they say "it".
If it is to be my Lapland "Swan Song", then it was lovely to go out with a visit from my lovely Shelley and her son Sir Owen. He arrived in his wheelchair unaware of what exactly I was doing at Leeds Castle, and I hoped with the red suit and white beard and with my glasses taken off he might not recognise me. Nope, not a chance. As soon as he was wheeled into my presence he looked at me and went "MIKE!" Rumbled. But despite what I said at the start, I have lived and learnt this last week or so. So here goes!
WHAT I HAVE LEARNT THIS WEEK
- Don't snore next to a lady with an ear infection
- Never believe anything you read in a Mayan calendar. End of the world, my arse.
- Don't have a tea party with people with the norovirus.
- Don't live in Tovill.
- Christmas shopping in any town anywhere in Britain in December is NOT fun.
- Smile at everyone, even the miserable gits. It doesn't half annoy them.
- The man with the shovel and the shit filled wheel barrow is NOT the new events manager at Leeds Castle.