And, topical chap that I am, I'm going to regale you today with my Santa Claus experiences. Not my experiences with the big fella, but of being him.
Note: once I started writing this I realised that it needed to be in four parts, as it would make for one hideously long post if I put it all in one. So here's the first part of Andrew: the Santa Years. More will follow soon (unless everyone thinks it's shite).
1. Disco Santa: The Rise to Power
"Andrew, the regular Santa for the Brownies' Christmas party has cancelled, would you be able to do it? You'd look so handsome."
It's hard to say no to your mum at times like that. So I took the plunge and strapped a pillow to my chest, donned the smelly suit and the frankly rancid beard (previous Santa was a seventy-something chain smoker), sound-checked my 'Ho-ho-ho' s and went out to face the baying brats.
I figured it was best to take a fairly solemn approach to the whole thing - Santa does a lot of these gigs, he's gonna be nice about it but is hardly going to seem overjoyed to be there.
My main function there was to hand each and every little girl a present. Obviously, Santa knows everyone's name in the entire fucking universe so there was a leader handing me the presents and whispering the names for me to call out. Now, sound is somewhat muffled when wearing all that garb, so I couldn't hear some of the names very well but was reluctant to have them repeated, for fear of exposing my mortality. It never fails to astound me what some people call their kids these days, so I didn't bat an eyelid when I heard the name 'Gossamer'. I figured it was the parents' idea of a stinging rebuke to the Durex company for producing those flimsy Gossamer condoms that led to their daughter's existence in this world. "Gossamer, where's Gossamer?" I called, "Come up and collect your present from Santa, you happy little accident."
"Erm, it's Eimear, EI- MEAR", hissed the leader.
Before wrapping up, the children were to treat Santa to a rendition of his favourite song. The first bars of 'Jingle Bells' struck up...
OH. MY. SWEET. LORD. The feeling of power that runs through you when people start singing a song about you is really quite something. I stood there soaking it in, feeling like Kim Jong Il or one of those lads. But before long I gave way to my natural instinct at being greeted by this anthem of praise to me. I danced. The children laughed gleefully and I danced.
"...over the hills he goes, laughing all the way." Yes I fucking do!
Turns out I'm an infinitely better dancer when wearing a pillow and wellies, something I've borne in mind when preparing for every festival I've been to since.