Interviewing Santa Claus

HO HO HO.
It was some greeting, considering what I had gone through to get to the North Pole.
I stood there on the steps of Number One, Ice Street, exhausted. My compass, totally confused, was spinning.
My pemmican had run out at Ornskoldsvik and I had been forced to eat my mukluks (gently fried in olive oil with a little peri-peri).
Even as I stood on the steps of Number One my stomach was growling. It was White Fang, my faithful sled dog – I had been forced to eat him.
Here I was, with terrible indigestion, standing next to a brass plate inscribed “S. Claus, B.Com., MBA”.
I said: “Father Christmas, I presume?”
He said: “Ho ho ho.”
“I am from The Daily Bugle and I bring tidings from all journalists.”
“Ho ho ho,” he said.
He directed me through vast halls filled with the rustling of Christmas paper as the elves and pixies wrapped gifts for good little children wherever they may be
He showed me into an office where, behind the desk sat Dr Deng Xiaoping, PhD., M.Com.,Llb., MBA (Beijing).
He said, “I’m Santa Claus’s boss – chief executive of Toyland”.
I was taken aback.
“I was hoping to interview Santa himself,” I said.
“Out of the question,” said Xiaoping. “We are way behind schedule. It’s mainly Santa’s fault. He suggested Toyland held back its orders on toys from China in the hope the currency would weaken.”
“Ho ho ho,” said Santa, embarrassed. He then rushed off.
At this stage a fairy came in and offered me tea and then minced out again.
I said, “What I’d like to know is how does Santa get all these toys to boys and girls in one night?”
“By reindeer sleigh, of course,” he said, surprised at my question.
“This time of year reindeer have completed their migration and are just standing around eating moss. They welcome a winter job with a bit of travel thrown in. Our big problem is updating the lists of good kids on the computers. I mean, what’s a naughty kid anymore?”
Good point.
In my day you were naughty if you walked through puddles in your best shoes. Nowadays kids knock off their parents to qualify for the orphans’ Christmas party. Yet child psychologists argue that this isn’t really being naughty so much as responding to negative sociological stresses aggravated by the pressures of the ‘me’ syndrome for which children cannot be blamed.
“And what’s all this ‘Ho ho ho’ stuff? Why is Father Christmas so inscrutable?” I asked.
Inscrutable? Even as I said the word it dawned on me – inscrutable! The Inscrutable Chinese… Of course! Father Christmas himself is a Chinese businessman in disguise!
The real Santa Claus had been kidnapped by the toy mafia in the Far East. It was my bounden duty as a newspaperman to tell the world.
Xiaoping, realising the secret was out, pressed a button on his desk and a gun-toting hobgoblin walked in and opened fire with lead-free bullets. I dropped where I stood, full of holes.
Suddenly somebody was shaking me by the shoulder. A huge pot-bellied man with a red track-suit and white beard was bending over me.
I realised I was still on the snow-covered doorstep of Number One. I had been dreaming – overcome by weariness and hunger.
Father Christmas said merrily : “Come in, my boy! Come in!
I was ushered into his warm home with its merry fire and smiling elves and pixies. A leggy Snow Queen brought in some mince pies and a cognac glass of genuine French anti-freeze.
I heard somebody saying, “Ho ho ho!” and immediately recognised the voice.
It was mine.

(For more of this try one of my e-books – you can also get them in paperback)

Father Christmas and the chimney problem

There are a lot of traditions at this time of the year and one of them is for Stoep Talk to trot out a column regarding that milestone in American journalism when a New York editor, Frank Church, received a letter from a little girl named Virginia.

Virginia told Church that her friends were mocking her because she believed in Santa Claus.

In American emetic style, Frank Church wrote:

“Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age… Not believe in Santa Claus? You might as well not believe in fairies.

“No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever.

“A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

One wonders how an editor might handle little Virginia’s letter in this day and age.

How, for instance, would I have handled it?

“Dear Virginia,

“Thank you for your letter of the 12th inst.

“Your little friends are dead right.

“Santa Claus! Ha! You might as well believe in fairies. Nay, you might as well believe in the Easter Bunny, politicians and airways time tables.

Make no mistake, Virginia, Santa Claus is a figment of the Chamber of Commerce’s mission statement.

“Have you ever stood back and watched Father Christmas at your local departmental store? Do you see how obscenely fat he is? Can you visualise him sliding down your chimney carrying a bicycle and a doll’s house – even supposing you have a chimney which, living in New York, you almost certainly don’t?

“Can you imagine him getting into any suburban home today without setting off alarms and Rottweilers and getting lead poisoning from 9mm slugs?

“Come on Virginia, get real.

“I am yours ever so sincerely,

“James F Clarke

Editor of the Column that Tells It Like It Is.

As I typed in that final full stop (please find) I heard the thump of gumboots getting louder and louder. They stopped outside Stoep Talk Organisation’s luxurious suite of offices.

Then a fat, white-bearded man, dressed in ridiculous red clothes launched himself at my computer’s “ZAP” button.

“Stop!” he cried. “You are crazy! You have gone insane! Look at me! Say who I am! Go on, say it!”

I said: “Who I am.”

“No, no! Tell me who, or even whom, you think I am!”

“Father Christmas,” I said, taken greatly aback. (Nay, Virginia, I was gobsmacked.)

“And how did I get here notwithstanding the absence of a chimney?”

“You screeched up on that sledge pulled by those overgrown sprinklebokkens and kicked down my door causing the picture of my aunt, Pamela Anderson, to fall off the wall.”

“Yes, well, it was an emergency. But note that your lack of a chimney was no handicap to me. I gain entry through MAGIC.”

Then he said: “Look here, do you want something really nice for Christmas?”

“Yes please. I could do with a one of those cellphones that takes movies, prints faxes, boils kettles and has a built-in Swiss Army knife. Then I’d like mag wheels for my dustbin and I’d like some socks and…”

“And what must you be to get all these things?”

“I must be a good boy.”

“Then just remember that!”

And, so help me Virginia, he hit my “ZAP” button and rode off leaving a trail of stardust which the cleaning lady is going to be spitting mad about.