Christmas is coming! But do we ever spare a thought for those on the Christmas frontline? Those boys in red, patrolling the social cubs and superstore grottos in an effort to bring Christmas antics for all? We asked a bunch of Nottingham Santas to tell us about the most memorable experiences of their careers. Unfortunately none of them were very memorable, so we made a load up instead...
“I’ll never forget the time Prancer chewed through his reins and ended up gallivanting about the city centre. He smashed up the front of Wok & Go, got in a scrap with a chihuahua, and managed to dislodge a load of tiles on West End Arcade’s roof. The council were not happy.” – Gordon, 60, Broxtowe
“I’ve been wee’d on. A lot.” – David, 51, Carlton
“I’m retired, but last year I got called up to take a place in the Broadmarsh grotto. It’d been so long since I’d donned the red suit, and I’ve eaten more than my fair share of mince pies since then, so the golden buttons were stretched to the absolute limit. As I was bending over to give a young girl a present the entire suit popped open. Her mum screamed, the boys in blue stormed in, and I’ve not been allowed to work with kids ever since.” – Mick, 75, Mapperley
“My most memorable Christmas was the year I met my husband. It’s not easy to chat someone up when you’re dressed like a maraschino cherry and surrounded by screaming kids, but I managed it.” – Roberta, 48, Sneinton
“I’ll never forget 2006. A little boy named Horace sat on my knee and said all he wanted for Christmas was for his mum to be happy. Next thing I know, I’m having breakfast with her in a Travelodge on the other side of Mansfield. She had a smile on her face, to say the least. I take my job very seriously.” – Terry, 42, Forest Fields
“Bit of a weird one. I was working a smaller grotto out in the square a while back when a small lad sat on my lap. ‘What can I get you for Christmas, boy?’ I says to him. ‘It is not what you must give to me, Santa, but what I must give to you.’ And he produces a weird little golden cube from his back pocket, puts it in my hand, then runs away. ‘That’s all well and good,’ I thought. ‘Stranger things have happened.’
When I brought the cube home that night, I noticed it had weird little segmentations on it, kind of like a Rubik’s cube but a little heavier. I twisted and turned the sides until, suddenly, a little needle came out of the centre and pricked my finger. I was so shocked that I chucked the thing right across the room.
While I was sucking the cut on my finger, I saw that the cube on the ground was beginning to unfold in flashes of red light and smoke. Then, standing there in the middle of my bedroom, was an unknowable Lovecraftian abomination with 100 terrible tentacles and 1000 mouths all speaking at once: ‘I will reap discord unto this mortal plane.’ And just like that, the being shifted out of existence. I didn’t tell anybody at the grotto about that.” – Jonathan, 49, Sherwood
“This kid asked me for nitroglycerin once.” – James, 64, St Ann’s
“I’d been to Rock City’s Big Christmas Night where everyone has to dress with a festive theme. I was well in, seeing as I could roll from grotto to Groove Town in my work get-up. I took a tab of acid off a fella dressed as Scrooge in the boys’ toilets, and spent the rest of the night crawling the walls. Next morning, I was up and at ‘em for another shift making ungrateful little mites’ Christmas dreams come true, but I was still taking a trip in the yellow submarine. This kid sat on my knee and I thought she was a four-headed crab. I ran for my bleedin’ life.” – Peter, 35, West Bridgford