Two in the afternoon and Santa was weary. His back was playing up from sitting on the same uncomfortable stool all day, his head was spinning and ached mercilessly from the incessant chirpy music, his chin was sore from inquisitive kids tugging at his beard to see if it was real – of course it was – and most of all he was totally, absolutely, sick of those whining little kids, and worse still, their parents. What a place to spend the last few weeks before Christmas: in a grotty grotto in a large cheapskate department store, but, like every one else these days, he needed the money, even if it was minimum wage.
So here he was with an annoyingly precocious boy on his knee. This horrid little snob, in his pristine school uniform, was holding up a long queue of disgruntled parents, with even more disgruntled children, as he recited his interminable list of overpriced demands. His smug middle class parents looked on, with grinning superiority, as snobby junior took another deep breath, fixed another look of concentration, and continued:
“An Action Man, a train set, a Scalextric, a fire engine, a bow and arrow set, a PlayStation, a cowboy's outfit, an iPod, Lego, a laptop – a proper one mind: no less than 8 Gigs of RAM – a toy garage, some cars to go with it, a Barbie Doll-”
“A Barbie Doll!” exclaimed Santa.
“Santa, dear-oh-dear, your not sexist are you.”
“Course not, no, course not, don't think that lad. Just… Just…”