Cap­tain Bird­s­eye cal­en­dar is top of my list for Santa

Sunday Mail (UK) - - Lesley Roberts -

Strug­gling for gift ideas? How about a Cap­tain Bird­s­eye cal­en­dar fea­tur­ing the new cap­tain, Ric­cardo Acerbi, gaz­ing mood­ily into the dis­tance while clutch­ing a plate of fish fin­gers.

The limited-edi­tion cal­en­dar has been re­leased re af­ter an “oover­whelm­ing re­ac­tion” to the rugged new cap­tain. Well, what’s not to love about a man who can make Jeremy Cor­byn’s hat and a mid­week meal look at­trac­tive?

If Cap­tain Bird­s­eye was also wear­ing a pair of Greggs sausage-roll themed socks, all our Christ­mases would have come at once.

So the Elf on the Shelf has to go, tiny dic­ta­tor that he is.

Yes, on be­half of ev­ery mother (or fa­ther) who has ever laid a weary head on a pil­low af­ter a long day’s slog only to blink open their eyes in hor­ror and leap out of bed to at­tend to ur­gent elf busi­ness.

On be­half of ev­ery par­ent who has ever found them­selves alone at a lap­top at mid­night, googling ideas on clever tricks and in­ter­est­ing elf po­si­tions (yes, this can be as dodgy as it sounds if you stum­ble across the wrong kind of site).

And, ac­tu­ally, on be­half of ev­ery child who’s grow­ing up be­liev­ing they’re be­ing spied upon by an in­ter­loper pre­tend­ing to be a toy that they’re not allowed to touch?

That elf with the stupid pointy hat. How bloom­ing an­noy­ing is he?

For the unini­ti­ated (you lucky blighters), the Elf on the Shelf is the most ir­ri­tat­ing Amer­i­can im­port to reach these shores since Don­ald Trump started eye­ing up golf cour­ses.

In­spired by a US chil­dren’s book, which was only writ­ten in 2004, it has been rather suc­cess­fully sold to us un­sus­pect­ing par­ents as a “Christmas tra­di­tion”. Four­teen years old? That’s not a tra­di­tion – that’s a mar­ket­ing tri­umph.

Spin-off Elf toys – ema­ci­ated lit­tle crea­tures clev­erly styled to look old-fash­ioned – quickly be­gan ap­pear­ing in homes across the States and, inevitably, they found their way to these shores (prob­a­bly tied to a toy air­plane by some smug par­ent).

And be­cause us guilt-rid­den sorts are for­ever look­ing for ways to en­hance the ex­pe­ri­ence of Christmas for our lit­tle dar­lings, pesky El­fies have been adopted with un­be­com­ing en­thu­si­asm over here. se­cret, mag­i­cal life and wasn’t just chewed by the dog, then aban­doned be­hind the couch while the kids were in bed. “There’s only one rule that you have to fol­low, so I will come back and be here to­mor­row: Please do not touch me. My magic might go, and Santa won’t hear all I’ve seen or I know.” Well, ho ho ho. What an elfin’ bully. The issue here is not just that the in­tro­duc­tion of the wee clype has added yet an­other layer of espionage and malev­o­lence to judge­men­tal old Fa­ther Christmas. Isn’t it enough that the bur­glar-alarm eye­balls are giv­ing Santa di­rect mon­i­tor­ing of our liv­ing space and the tiny plas­tic door we stuck on the skirt­ing board al­lows ac­cess to the tooth fairy? Rus­sian spooks give their tar­gets an eas­ier time than this. No, it’s also that proper de­ploy­ment of Elf on the Shelf re­quires a level of ef­fort and com­mit­ment from par­ents that is, quite frankly, one Christmas ir­ri­tant too far. So­cial me­dia is awash with posts of­fer­ing tips on what the elf could do next: Make snow an­gels in spilled sugar, per­haps? Toast marsh­mal­lows over bat­tery-op­er­ated tealights? Or get into a fight with some mini Lego fig­ures? Hi­lar­i­ous? Nah. Ex­haust­ing, chal­leng­ing and in­fu­ri­at­ing. I have oth­er­wise level-headed friends who “allowed” their elf to draw mous­taches on to framed fam­ily por­traits one night, only to re­alise next morn­ing that the wee tike had used permanent marker. So we are re­belling in our house. We sacked our elf for gross mis­con­duct and he is now packed away in a box with some dis­carded Bar­bie dolls. And we all sleep soundly at night. I think...

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