You can tell a lot about a man by his shoes, that’s what my Nana reckoned anyway. She knew lots of stuff about lots of stuff, and the various bits of wisdom she trotted out still stand me in good stead to this day. Take Father Christmas for instance (we don’t do “Santa Claus” oop North), well he’s got to wear wellies hasn’t he? Proper wellies too, not green ones or ones branded with “Trespass” down the side. Even the “Hunters” aren’t cool in this case, leave them in the cupboard where they belong. No, they’ve got to be black shiny wellies fresh from B&Q or LIDL, fit for the purpose of being Father Christmas but frankly bugger all else.
I saw a bloke walking down Wimbers Hill last year in full Father Christmas regalia with flippin trainers on! The fact they were the once iconic Adidas “Kick” of my youth (and no doubt his too) was neither here nor there, it just wasn’t on. I resisted the temptation to sprint down the street and rugby tackle him to the ground, I wouldn’t have managed the first bit never mind the second. Nonetheless I was disappointed that he’d allowed himself to get “out of character” for the journey home from whichever department store he worked in. Imagine if any kids had seen him?
The Father Christmas of my childhood arrived into Scarborough harbour on a coble (fishing boat, pronounced “cobble”) on the last week of November. He would parade through the streets ringing a big brass bell, for reasons best known to himself. We’d follow him like the children following the pied piper, he and we’d end up in Boyes department store. There you’d visit, sit on his knee (they were different times then) and tell him what you wanted for Christmas. If your Mum had paid the 5p, you’d get a free gift (it was normally one of those men with a parachute which never opened no matter how high you threw him into the air). You’d leave Boyes content with the World, excited by the prospects of a glorious yuletide period. You didn’t know what yuletide meant, but neither did/does anyone else so no matter.
Father Christmas wore shiny black wellies then, I remember it to this day. He ate the mince pies my Mum and Dad put out, he drank the sherry, I remember one year he even left floury footprints on the carpet which was odd as it was raining outside. Stuff matters to little kids you see, little things which may seem inconsequential at the time. Make sure you take the time to visit Father Christmas with them this year, endure the queues, pay your inflation linked 5p. It’s never a waste of time, sip the sherry and take a bite out of the mince pies too. Have the reindeers chew the carrots, eat some turkey, I know it’s a bit dry unless you time it with precision but tradition matters. Make sure when you take them though that your Father Christmas wears black shiny wellies, little things like that matter. They’ll stick in your kids mind for eternity if he doesn’t, and it’ll definitely stick in yours too!
Written by Mick Dore
Pub Landlord at The Alexandra