AS you may have noticed, Christmas is well and truly upon us. The shops are full of festive decorations and those annoying Spanish carols, or – even worse – Michael bloody Buble, echo through the aisles. If they are particularly unlucky, the staff will be dressed as elves, reindeer or any other of ‘Santa’s little helpers’.

Being a single guy living on on my own, Christmas tends to be a season to be ‘got through’ rather than embraced. It normally involves reluctantly wearing a paper hat at a Christmas party and timing my exit before the carol singing begins.

This year, however, it’s been a little different. For the first time ever, I’ve been in demand as Santa Claus. It started when a rather beautiful friend of mine – a ‘yummy mummy’ – called me from a PTA meeting at her daughter’s school. They were short of a Santa for the school Christmas Fayre and would I mind stepping manfully into the breach?

“Only if you wear the elf outfit and sit on my lap” came my festive reply.

And so it came to pass that we spent much of the following week looking for Santa outfits.

If you are like me, then the default shopping setting for most items is ‘Check out the nearest Chinese shop’. (By the way the best named Chinese shop ever is El Corte Chino in Almunecar, but I digress). I must sadly report that the average Cantonese emporium of most goods under the sun stocks a pretty poor line of Father Christmas outfits.

There were loads of sexy Santas and mini Santas, but traditional Santa outfits didn’t pass muster, mainly because they were too well-fitting.

In all fairness they Chinese workers who make the costumes in a sweatshop in Shanghai probably don’t have the faintest idea who the ‘ho ho ho’ Santa is. But we wanted a truly Falstaffian Father Christmas and were overjoyed to find the real deal in a side street in San Pedro.

On the fateful day, resplendent in my red outfit, I boldly took my place in the grotto. The effect of my arrival caused a stampede towards me and I had what past life regressionists would probably call a ‘moment of recognition’.

I have Welsh heritage and for a split second, as the tots thundered towards me shrieking, I knew exactly how the Welsh Guards, also resplendent in scarlet, must have felt as the Zulus charged at Rorke’s Drift…

Thankfully after the exertions on the nearby bouncy castle subdued even the most boisterous child, the afternoon was judged a huge success. I can report unequivocally that Spider-Man still ranks very highly in the average five-year-old’s Christmas wish list.

The failed drama student in me loved the dressing up aspect and I now have the urge to do more. So if anyone needs a giant talking pancake for Shrove Tuesday, I’m your man.

And, in case you were wondering, the yummy mummy has yet to put on the elf costume… When I told her she was going on Santa’s naughty list she just batted her lashes and giggled. Merry Christmas!



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