Comedian and writer Adam Blaize gives us our next Christmas guest blog about his own complex relationship with Father Christmas…
First of all, I’m not a heathen. But then, neither am I a believer. When someone raises the subject of religion, I always tell them that I’m agnostic and they always ask me, “What’s that?” Basically, on one hand, I don’t believe in one specific thing and I’m not devoted to one religious ideology. On the other hand, I don’t believe that there is nothing beyond the us, in the here and the now. I have an open mind and I sometimes dismiss God as being nothing more than a story, but it would be extremely arrogant and rather depressing to think that we were the only beings in the universe. I like to think that if there was a Heaven, God would understand my scepticism. “Well why would you believe in any of this? One man controlling everything. Time, destiny, the weather. Do you think that I actually enjoy watching ‘Songs Of Praise’? Come on, let’s get you some Battenberg. Oh that’s right, you don’t like Battenberg. I remember now. Well I’ve got some Lemon Drizzle, if that’s okay?”
Something that I do believe in, without any shadow of a doubt, is fear. The darkness outside our bedroom windows at night or the monster in the cupboard. The rattling of the boiler and the creaking of the floorboards. We fear the unknown and it starts from our earliest moments on this earth.
There was an evil that stirred in the Christmas of 1987. An evil that left me with a recurring nightmare, unable to sleep in my own bed at night for several months thereafter. I’ve suffered from recurring dreams and nightmares throughout my lifetime. One of them involved the death of my father on several occasions, one in which he fell down the garden steps, resulting in his head falling off and him asking me to, “get your mum”. The other involved a Knight and my father telling me that “He’s come to take me away”. There was even something about being chased through a red desert by a pack of rabid dogs. All of these nightmares occurred in the earliest years of my life.
But the earliest of these deathly scares involved Father Christmas. It’s ironic that I have now gone on to become the man in the suit that no doubt left me with psychological scars. That’s right, this Christmas, I have taken on the role of Santa Claus in a department store and what an absolute privilege it has been. I’ve probably taken it more seriously than I originally thought I would. Let me tell you this. You have not experienced pure joy until you’ve listened to a woman in an Elf costume telling you about her hormones and an appointment with the Gynaecologist. That is something that you have to experience, in order to get the true magic of Christmas. Before I go on, I just want to say that I have two degrees, so make of that what you will.
We all associate Father Christmas with being jolly and kind, although I like to think that in this day and age, Mrs Claus would probably have him on a strict diet because after all, how could someone of his size and shape not have had a coronary by now? A lot of the children that come into the Grotto are awestruck by the mere presence of Santa, Kris Kringle, the Don Corleone of the North Pole. But there are also those who shake and cry and hide behind their parents leg, almost as if they’ve now found themselves in a position where they are to become the supreme sacrifice to a red suited, white bearded God. I know how they feel because I felt it to, all those years ago, in the Christmas of 1987.
My parents had purchased a large inflatable Father Christmas, presumably because they thought it would amuse me. But even looking at the pictures of him now, I can’t see a happiness in his eyes and that anyone could have thought that he was capable of one simple act of kindness.
I used to sit in my high chair, the same high chair that I nearly died in, twice! Once by choking on a piece of apple and then secondly by sliding through and almost being strangled by the seat clips. I should refer to myself as a survivor, because clearly, that’s what I am.
I would lie in bed and then wake, my ears drawn towards a hissing noise, the sound of something inflating from behind the radiator. I’d sit there and watch and then he’d jump out, the inflatable Father Christmas and his big jolly smile. It was probably the first time that I experienced pure fear, the kind of fear that Marion Crane experienced in that now infamous shower scene. The kind that Danny gets every time he rides his tricycle through the corridors of the Overlook Hotel and hears the words, “Come and play with us Danny”. The kind you get when you check your bank balance, only to find that you’re three cash withdrawals away from going into the red.
Eventually, the nightmares stopped and I returned to my own bed. This particular Santa no longer occupied the space in my bedroom and over the years I became much more familiar with the happy gift-giving Saint Nick. The Kris Kringle who likes mince pies and a sherry. The Santa Claus that does absolutely anything and everything in his power to make Christmas a special time of year.
I never found out what happened to that inflatable Santa Claus, but I do sometimes wonder, where is he now? Sorry, there’s someone at the door.
Stuff you can click
You can catch Adam and the rest of our fab line up at our festive event, The Heathens’ Christmas Party, tomorrow night at The Castle Hotel
Read Adam’s previous guest blog for us: The Incomplete History of Halloween
Watch Adam performing at one of our events last year: