Santas little helper a c.., p.1
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       Santa's Little Helper: a Christmas carousal, p.1
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           W H Oxley
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Santa's Little Helper: a Christmas carousal


  Published by Smudgeworks

  Santa’s Little Helper

  A Christmas Carousal

  W H Oxley

  Copyright 2013 W H Oxley

  By the same author

  Steam

  A Hanging Job

  Hitler’s Banner

  An Accidental Millionaire

  The Missing Gun

  The Great Petrol Coupon Robbery

  Did the Butler Do It?

  Who Killed Alfie

  Santa’s Grotto

  T’was the night before Christmas, when all through the house

  Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

  The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

  In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

  ‘Time to go, Santa.’

  ‘Piss off! It can’t be Christmas already.’

  ‘It is. And it’s time to get up!’

  ‘But I’ve only just gone to bed.’

  ‘You’ve been in bed since New Year’s Day.’

  ‘Don’t talk rubbish. I never go to bed before Twelfth Night. After Epiphany I’m allowed to do what I like with my time, says so in the contract, and so if I want to stay in bed that’s my business. You’re exaggerating as usual. I’ve a good mind to sack you.’

  ‘You can’t: I’ve got a contract.’

  ‘Oh yes, I was forgetting. Rupert Murdoch’s little blue eyed boy, aren’t you. I should never have let News International take over Christmas.’

  ‘Now you’re exaggerating. They only took over the Father Christmas part of the operation. Even News International isn’t big enough to swallow up the whole of Christmas, not with the Vatican being major shareholder and expecting payment in gold, frankincense or myrrh – preferably gold.’

  ‘Christmas just isn’t the same, not since we became part of a big corporation.’ Santa shook his head mournfully. ‘We should never have sold out. I blame the elves. I should never have trusted them to behave like adults. Turning Santa’s Workshop into a cooperative was biggest mistake I ever made.’

  ‘So why did you?’

  Santa shrugged. ‘It was back in sixties: hippies, summer of love and all that nonsense. I spent a few summers in San Francisco. With my long white beard I fitted into the scene perfectly, and the women were literally throwing themselves at me. They just loved my chat-up line: ‘Fancy going to bed with a fifteen-hundred-year-old man.’ They didn’t really believe I was that old, even though I told them a few funny stories about what we got up to behind the scenes in Nicaea when were knocking out the creed in the mid three hundreds. Not that I gave a hoot whether they believed it or not. I was having a whale of a time.

  Sixty-eight was a particularly good year, and I went back to the North Pole so brim full of the spirit of peace and love that I felt a bit guilty about leaving all those poor little elves toiling away making toys while I was making whoopee. Add to that a little overindulgence in Christmas spirits, not mention smoking a bit too much grass (a little habit I picked up in Frisco) and before I knew it I’d turned the business into a cooperative and given them all an equal share. Up until then I’d had a nice little number going, built the business up from scratch and ended up cornering the market in children.’

  ‘But why children?’

  ‘Ah well, you see I was being a bit crafty there.’ Santa winked and tapped his nose. ‘When the patronages were being handed out I made sure of getting my share. I was already patron saint of sailors, scholars and merchants, but when virgins was up for grabs I couldn’t resist adding it to my portfolio – threw in children as an afterthought because didn’t want people getting the wrong idea about my motive for wanting to get my hands on the virgins. As it turned out, the virgin portfolio was a bad move, because it was my job to make sure they stayed that way; once they lost it, I lost them. So there wasn’t much point in putting too much effort into that little number, leaving me with sailors, merchants, children and scholars. The only time that sailors ever bothered to call upon my services was when the ship was sinking and there was bugger all I could do about it, the merchants were always asking for money and the scholars kept questioning my existence. So it soon became pretty obvious that if I was ever going to build up a decent business I was going to have to concentrate on children – ironic really, because I don’t even like the little blighters.’

  ‘You’re not allowed to say that!’

  ‘Why not?’

  ‘Because you do like children, in fact you love all children: it says so in the contract.’

  ‘Stuff the contract! It only applies when I’m on duty. I can say what I like in the privacy of my own bed.’

  ‘Speaking of which, it’s time for you to get up and–’

  ‘Did I ever tell you about how I started out in this game back in the fourth century? It was a very small operation at first, just dropping a few presents down the occasional chimney. Then came the Dark Ages and I practically had to shut up shop, almost went out of business, but as Christianity spread throughout Europe I started picking up a bit of trade here and there. Germany initially, but Scandinavia was my first big break. Back in the days when they were pagans they’d had a bunch of elves running a good little business under the Julenisse brand. On Midwinter’s Eve they would leave a present in return for a bowl of porridge. But when Christianity took over up there the elves were terrified of unemployment – or worse if they were mistaken for witches. So when they found themselves in need of protection from a bunch of overenthusiastic missionaries, who better to turn to than yours truly, a fully paid up saint. I found suitable premises in Lapland not far from the North Pole and offered them all fulltime employment making toys.

  The rest, as they say, is history, expanding first into England and France before moving into the American market. Once we started trading in the States things really took off and there was no stopping us. The brand alone was worth twice what Murdoch paid for the whole business. That’s the trouble with elves: daft enough to believe any old fairy story. Silly buggers fell for his pitch, hook, line and sinker, thought they could take the money and have a job for life. Now look at ’em all, rolling around in the snow with a bottle of vodka while the north wind blows through the deserted workshops and all the manufacturing is farmed out to China. I tried to warn them, but Murdoch turned up in person and sweet talked them into it, painted a gruesome picture of what would happen if Robert Maxwell got his finger in the pie.’

  ‘Robert Maxwell? That rings a bell. Weren’t he and Murdoch in competition back in the seventies and eighties?’

  ‘Yep. It all started back in the sixties. According to the story I heard, Maxwell is supposed to have stitched Murdoch up over some deal to sell encyclopaedias door-to-door.’

  ‘Murdoch sold encyclopaedias door-to-door!!!’

  ‘Don’t be silly. He didn’t actually go around knocking on doors himself, he had the concession for one of the Australian states, Queensland I think, and when Maxwell bought up Colliers Encyclopaedias he kicked Murdoch out, told him he was useless as an encyclopaedia salesman. Biggest mistake he ever made, because there are some people you just don’t kick up the arse – and Murdoch’s one of them. After that little episode, every time Maxwell tried to buy a newspaper, Murdoch would pop up and snatch it from his grasp.’

  ‘Hmm, I always wondered why Murdoch diversified into Christmas. It never really fitted into the Evil Empire.’

  ‘Think yourself lucky I haven’t got my Dictaphone switched on or you’d be out of a job.’

  ‘Oh … er, just a slip of the tongue. I don’t call it that myself of course but some of the guys on Wall Street… So, er, tell me ab
out it. Was it a big takeover battle?’

  One of biggest – and the dirtiest: the News of the World even ran a headline saying, “Would you want Christmas, a Christian festival as British as roast beef and plum pudding, falling into the clutches of the former Jan Hoch from Transylvania.” Nice touch that, managed to remind everyone that Maxwell was Jewish while implying that he was some sort of vampire. Of course, Murdoch himself was in no way responsible for that headline: he always leaves the content of his newspapers to his editors.’

  ‘Didn’t Maxwell commit suicide?’

  ‘Who knows? Conspiracy theorists had a field day with that one. Take your pick: CIA, KGB, MOSSAD… ’

  ‘Hmm, interesting story, but we’re behind schedule already.’

  ‘Did I ever tell you about the time I–’

  ‘No! And if you don’t get out of bed at once I’ll set the reindeers on you!’

  Chocks Away

 
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