The return of our occasional column looking at penny pinching ideas from Armley’s notorious ‘auld git’:
Don’t try to challenge a child at Christmas. You’ll never win.
Do you remember when you found out Santa wasn’t real? My family was involved in the coal mining industry and at Christmas each group of working men arranged parties for their children.
Santa always made an appearance. Note to adults organising children’s party: ‘pay attention to details’ as eagle-eyed children see and share everything
My dad was a deputy in the pit, he was in charge of groups of miners, and on his way up the promotion ladder. He was one of the committee members who organized the party at our local church hall. His role was to assist Santa by handing relevant presents to Santa, sorted by gender and age group.
Each child came up onto the stage to happily receive their present.
Eventually it was my turn arrived I mounted the stage. Santa knew what I liked and what I disliked. I confidently stepped up to Santa. The fat man in the red nylon static-fueled suit asked if I had been good.
Mmm difficult one to answer. I think so but… do not give me a jigsaw. I do not like jigsaws.
Santa smiled whilst his helper, my dad, passed him a box suspiciously shaped like a box that held a jigsaw I heard a dull rattle as the box was shaken slightly passed from hand to hand. Santa passed the present to me as his mind moved on to the next child. I didn’t move away though. Santa looked back towards me, he knew I knew it was a dreaded jigsaw. He avoided making eye contact. Santa’s helpers were frantically trying to convey instructions to me, a mere 7p pop-year-old to get off the stage.
At this point an eruption of Pompeii’s famous volcano wouldn’t have moved me. I watched as the ex SAS Santa helpers moved forward. We stood there like opposing gun slingers at the OK Corral, I bellowed stop, I want to check this present. No no, I was not being conned with a jigsaw again. I stamped my foot perilously close to Santa’s shoes.
Santa’s shoes were suddenly of great interest to me. These were the shoes I’d only seen on the feet of one man I knew.
Dad was having a fit trying to get me off the stage then he saw my face change. He waited for what was about to unfold.
“Give me another present, not a jigsaw. I know who Santa is.” I looked down at the highly polished shiny brown brogues with hand-sewn soles. Santa’s helpers all looked at the shoes. Santa looked down at his shoes. The posse knew the jig was up. Dad passed another present to Santa .as Santa handed me the present he whispered “let’s keep it secret”. I checked the contents of the present. It was a beautiful vanity case full of dolly hairdressing tools.
Satisfied I turned to Santa and told him not to wear George’s shoes next time he played Santa. I was a happy child. More than 20 years later I met George at Christmas he explained he was so traumatized that he never played Santa again.
By ‘The Auld Git’ of Armley