If you’ve trawled thought this lovely website, you may well know that I have a degree in Dramatic Art. I’ve been fortunate to make a career as a writer, frequently scribbling for theatre and television, but you may not know that my majors at university were in acting and directing. In these fields, my career has been a little more chequered. My drama school triumph, where I milked every one of my five lines as Page to Paris in Romeo and Juliet, was enthusiastically received (by my mum). Some may also recall my touching and sensitive performance in the seminal experimental production Promotion for a Travel Company. In this avant-garde, site-specific piece, I wore green lycra tights and shoes and a giant fibreglass cherry, while handing out holiday leaflets in shopping centres. Had The Times seen it, they would have declared me the pick of the bunch. Sorry.
In terms of directing however, I think my career highlight is to come this weekend. I have been asked to arrange a rota of Santas for the church bazaar. Now to the lay person, this may seem like a simple task, but this will require the full use of my artistic skills, as well as the employment of complex mathematics, physics, philosophy and theology.
For example, I have just one Santa suit, and three prospective Fathers Christmas who vary dramatically in height and girth. Getting A into B is one thing, but getting A out of B, and C, who is half the size of A, into B will require diplomacy, a big pillow and one of those pointy things to punch holes in belts.
Secondly, the dreams and hopes of Hendon’s children rest squarely in my hands. If my Santas are ill-briefed, the whole Christmas dream could come tumbling down, leaving the little mites of NW4 disillusioned and heartbroken, which could set them off on a lifetime of disobedience, delinquency and ultimately organised crime. How best to manage this? Do I issue the Fathers Christmas with a carefully worded script and firmly instruct them not to deviate from it? Is “T’was the Night Before Christmas” still in copyright? And how to manage continuity? What if a child should stay at the bazaar over a handover period and notice that Santa’s voice, shape and demeanour has changed? Should my Santas be rehearsed in identical swaggering, tummy slapping and ho-ho hoing to avoid confusion?
And finally, how do I handle the sensitive issue of Father Christmas’ relationship with the church? Should the interaction with each child contain a Santa Clause, where he speaks eloquently on the real meaning of Christmas? I ask you, what would Spielberg do?
One monkey, one typewriter, seldom Hamlet.