Haven’t you got the easiest job in the world, working one day a year?
I wish. An operation like mine needs a lot of planning. Those people building the Millennium Dome don’t know how lucky they are. They only have to handle that kind of pressure once. I get it every year – Santa can hardly miss his deadline.
So, what’s your typical day like?
Most days, I like to get to the grotto early, before the elves arrive. It’s a lot quieter. First, I read the trade paper – it’s important to keep up with the latest developments, the market’s volatile and I have been caught out before. Last Christmas, I ended up with a storeroom full of Teletubbies when all the kids wanted Furbys.
I sort the post next. It’s a big job, especially at this time of year. The letters get divided into “naughty” and “nice” and the elves start ordering the toys. They don’t make any these days – there isn’t a market for wooden building blocks outside Islington – and traipsing round the shops was getting annoying, so we’ve started shopping on-line. It has helped a lot. I sometimes wish I could just get e-Toys or whoever to take over the whole operation – they’ve got the resources.
Of course, the reindeer have to be fed every day. It’s not a pretty job. My PR will kill me for saying this but they aren’t quite the lovable harbingers of Christmas cheer you see on the cards. They’re stubborn – and they spit.
He’s the worst. I’ve managed to get him off the drink now, most of the time, but he’s quite the prima donna.
What’s the last thing you do before you head out on Christmas Eve?
Check the brakes on the sleigh and make sure the reindeer aren’t sulking. I’m basically at their mercy all night so we have to get along.
And what do you do after Christmas?
The elves and I go on holiday – it’s our end-of-year bonus. This year, we’re thinking of going to Vegas to play the tables.
What’s the best thing about the job?
I suppose I ought to say spreading goodwill throughout the world. After all, there’s just me and Sir John Egan who get to do that. I like being my own boss but the only perks are the sherry and mince pies. I like looking at the houses, too. It gives me plenty of interior design ideas.
And the worst?
On the big night, pitched roofs – they’re death traps. The rest of the year, it has to be the reindeer. Never work with children or animals, they say. Obviously, I wasn’t paying attention. The uniform isn’t great, either. I wear it all year and it looks a little foolish in the supermarket in August. Also, the suit doesn’t go down well with women – it doesn’t exactly say “distinguished older man”.
How do you relax?
Apart from the holiday in January, I’m a bit of a homebody. I get quite enough of the outdoor
life zipping through the snow, so most of the time I’d rather stay indoors with a brandy and
a warm fire.
If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be?
I’d quite like to be a plumber. I’d probably earn more over Christmas too.