What it feels like to ... BE SANTA CLAUS
IAM the real Santa Claus. I know all Santas say this but the marvels of time travel mean Santa can be everywhere at once. That is the magic of Christmas.
When the children come into Santa’s grotto, you never know how they will react. Some can be overexcited and won’t stop talking – meaning you can’t get a word in edgeways – while others are tongue-tied and starstruck. Then there are those who are terror-stricken: we sometimes forget Santa is a weird-looking character with his huge white, bushy beard.
There are children who arrive with a note from their parents asking that I tell them they need to behave and do what mummy or daddy tells them otherwise they won’t get any presents. Most of the gift requests tend to be quite standard but I have had one or two asking for a pony. You can see their parents thinking: “Oh, my God”.
I was caught out a few years back when a child came in asking for toys from The Avengers. Being a certain age, I immediately thought of John Steed, Emma Peel, Catherine Gale and Tara King. I started reminiscing about The Avengers as I knew them from the 1960s and 70s. The child was looking at me quite puzzled. Afterwards one of the younger elves took me aside and explained: “The Avengers these days are Iron Man, The Hulk and Black Widow, they are superheroes …”
When I am not surrounded by elves, I run pub quizzes. My circuit is The Bailie Bar, The Cumberland Bar, The Antiquary Bar and the West End Hotel in Edinburgh. I do support actor work for college and university drama and film departments when they need a mature person. When I started, I was playing the juvenile lead, then the father and these days it is grandfather roles.
My first part as an extra was in the Oscar-winner Chariots of Fire. I was initially in some crowd scenes but I happened to be wearing a flowing 1920s coat with the cutaway collar – I like wearing funny clothing – and so they asked me to be a vicar. Ian Charleson is preaching from the pulpit as Eric Liddell and I’m sitting below him.
This is my third year hosting the Santa Breakfast at the Bridge Inn in Ratho. It is a slightly different format from the traditional grotto. One of the