The meeting has gone reasonably well. Being a nice sort of person, I try to wrap it up with a big old positive.
“And of course if there’s anything I can help you out with – anything at all – then please do feel free to ask,” I conclude.
“Anything at all. Whatsoever,” I add.
A face pokes in through the doorway to the Staff Room. “We have a problem,” says the face to the Headmistress. “We’re going to need somebody to help out.”
“You do not appear,” I mutter grimly to the LTLP, “to be being particularly supportive.”
The LTLP rolls around on the floor, laughing helpfully. I stand with hands on hips, attempting to regain control of the situation. But my beard slips slightly, and I have to try to fit it into position once more.
“I don’t see how I can keep this straight whilst I talk,” I complain.
“Try practising the ‘ho ho ho’s again,” she suggests.
I stride back to the mirror. There has been no miraculous transformation since I adjusted my beard. I do not look like Father Christmas. I look like me, in a Father Christmas costume.
“I think it might be the hat that’s the problem,” she ventures.
The LTLP is possibly right. Santa Claus has a big red hood that sort of obscures everything about him but his eyes and the beard. This costume does not come with a hood, but with a red hat that I strongly suspect was meant for elves. I pull it down as far as it will go, but my own non-Santa-type hair is still very visible at the sides.
“It won’t matter,” she says, a small pool of wee forming on the floor beneath.
“It will matter,” I insist. “The only reason that they want me to do this is because the children were starting to suspect that the previous Santa was not Santa after all. So they needed somebody new so that they would really believe it was Santa.”
“No pressure then,” she replies.
My beard has now fallen at a forty-five degree angle. I wrestle it back into place, and try a few more variations on the ‘ho ho ho’ theme. There is nothing I want more than for the local kids to have a brilliant Christmas party with loads of presents and Father Christmas, except for that Father Christmas not to be me.
The worst blizzards in living memory blanket Norfolk, causing massive disruption to local services. All the schools suffer emergency closures. The children have to stay at home, and miss their long-awaited Christmas party with loads of presents and Father Christmas. Finally, I am involved in a story with a happy ending.