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Father Christmas, Ministry of Christmas
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re Father Christmas

James FitzGerald

…according to Father Christmas. Yes, the real one.

Kids aren’t all selfish little monsters

‘Children ask you for all sorts of presents, whether in the grotto or by post (call me old-fashioned, but I still prefer a handwritten letter to an email). They ask me for cars and space rockets – real ones, they tell me, not toys. But not all children seem to be just in it for themselves. I can recall one youngster who simply asked “for mummy to have a nice day”.’

Being Santa gets you celebrity status

‘I’m always surprised at how much star power the red suit wields. This life isn’t for everyone: you have to be okay with crowds, queues of grotto-goers and constant requests to take “elfies” with fans. During last year’s Hamleys Toy Parade on Regent Street, I rode on top of a double-decker bus (not my preferred method of transport, of course) in front of a crowd that reportedly got up to about 800,000 people.’

Delivering in London can be a treat

‘Air pollution, lack of chimneys, having to swerve my sleigh round The Shard: there are plenty of challenges to making Christmas deliveries in London. But the perk here is that you never quite know what grub you’re going to find left out for you. Sometimes it’s the classic mince pies and sherry, but I’m also a fan of a fancy herbal tea with organic carrots for the reindeer.’

Fashions change but beards are for ever

‘I read recently that beards are over. Well, if you come and visit me in the East End this December, you’ll see that’s absolute nonsense; there are plenty of young men out there still rocking my look. Though I’m not sure I’d wear shoes with no socks – it’s far too chilly on the sleigh.’ 

Father Christmas appears all over the world between now and Sunday December 24, including The Ministry of Christmas at The Ragged School Museum.

Here’s our ultimate guide to Christmas in London.

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