SANTA CLAUS IS REAL.

Well it’s beginning to look, a lot like Christmas…don’t worry, I am not about to break into song! I just love this time of year…that festive feel, that holiday spirit, that – well, whatever you call it! I just unashamedly still, love Christmas!

Patrick Bauble GIF

Unfortunately it has came to my attention recently, that many foolish souls have been spreading a rather hateful, and malicious message…something that isn’t Christmassy in the slightest! And this is something for which I will not stand…as a resolute Christmasist! 

What I’m raving about are those Scrooge-like fellows, who wildly claim that Santa Claus, is NOT repeat, NOT real! Which is of course crazy!  And I have a story to prove it!

I was six years old, possibly seven, when I found myself sitting on a train with my Aunt. I’d just visited her in London, so I had just enjoyed a couple of days of looking up at big things, and eating ice cream. I was quite content, just staring out of the window – and holding on to my new “Evil Cat” soft toy, that a nice lady in Pizza Hut had given me. You could squeeze his belly, and he would emit a chaotic “MUAHAHAHAHAHA” giggle.  Amusing for me, probably hell for all of the grown ups. 

Amidst all of this fun, someone caught my eye a few rows down. I instantly stopped squeezing Evil Cat’s belly, and stared. There was a man, he was maybe sixty…or eighty, well he was old anyway. And he was sat there reading his book, minding his own business…but for some reason I couldn’t look away. There was something special about him. But it is rude to stare so I tried my best to look down at the floor, and out of the window…but I just…couldn’t! I had to have one more peek..then one more peek…then one more…

Blackadder Stare GIF

It was strange, I definitely recognised him from somewhere. He wasn’t like everyone else, who were either sitting there with a bored expression…or eating a horrible looking sandwich, that smelled like sick. He had a little smile on his face. His cheeks were chubby, and red –  he actually looked comfortably relaxed in his seat, in between sips of his hot cocoa…

And that flowing white beard! Not many people have that, it’s usually jus-

“WAIT! …WAIT!” I shouted desperately,

“Shhhhhh, John! Try, and kee-“

“BUT…BUT IT’S-“

“John, people are trying to re-“

I didn’t let her finish whatever she was saying, and simply pointed (rude, I know!) at the man sitting a few rows down…Santa Claus”, I announced proudly.

Yes Santa GIF

She stared too, and I waited in anticipation for approval…“it is, isn’t it?!” I blurted out hastily without thinking. She then smiled, and said she wasn’t sure – and that perhaps it was best to just go up to him, and ask.

Now this sounded like utter madness, to me! But it seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity, I mean…how many kids get to say that they met Santa while he was off duty, on a train heading to the North-East of England? I haven’t heard that said, EVER! So there was only one thing for it, I had to go for it! I mean the worst thing that could happen is that he says, no – and then I burst into flames due to a severe embarrassment overdose…

I pulled off the chair, and began to shuffle slowly over to him – I turned back a few times, and there was my Aunt grinning, and giving eager thumbs up. Once I got to his row, I just stood there – transfixed. Thankfully he smiled warmly, and said hello.

“ARE YOU SANTA CLAUS?!” 

I couldn’t help it, it just burst out without me knowing! He maintained his smile, but I instantly regretted it, I wished in that moment that I had just stayed seated…that I had just carried on squeezing Evil Cat’s belly. I shifted awkwardly on the spot, awaiting his answer…

“Yes. Yes, I am.” he whispered in a hushed tone. I didn’t say anything, instead I immediately fled back to HQ to report the news:

“IT’S HIM! IT IS! IT’S ACTUALLY HIM!” 

Santa GIF

She asked what he had said to me; “well – I came back here to tell you…so, nothing…” I suddenly realised how I had missed out on so much in that opportunity, I had let so much slip through my fingers! My Aunt agreed to come along with me, to make right my wrongs. 

We had a lovely chat; I asked him why he was on the train – he said even Santa needs a break sometimes, to which I thought fair enough. He showed me some photos, of him and the guys (his reindeer, and his elf friends). His wife looked friendly on the photos, he said he missed her a lot but he’d be back with her soon. He actually remembered my name, once I told him – he said I had been pretty good this year, which was such a relief because I was half expecting my poor performance in maths class to affect my present haul that year!

My Aunt said we best leave him alone, that he had a lot of things he had to do for all of the other children…I nodded, and walked back to my seat.

Just before Christmas a card arrived from him personally, with a photo of him, and his wife on the front – they certainly did look happy to be reunited. It was nice to know he hadn’t forgotten me, because I certainly didn’t ever forget him…

Have yourself a very merry Christmas!

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Red Light (Netherlands)

The Netherlands – Amsterdam ~ 2010

(I am missing my friends from home – so, I naturally find myself reminiscing on old times…in particular, about an old adventure we had together a few years ago…I thought you may as well come along for the trip down memory lane!)

One good thing about where I’m from…(and there are many reasons don’t get me wrong!)…is that  you can hop on over to the ferry port, spend the night on a ship, and wake up in Amsterdam. I must have signed up for something many moons ago, as the company often emails me with special deals, and offers – the most important of which is said trip for £35 ($55!). There’s no excuse, so you get together your nearest, and dearest – your A-Team, and rush to pack your bags for a fun-filled weekend! And that’s what I did back in 2010! 

Celebrate GIF

I’d have to miss some time at university…I don’t even know why I am including that bit of information – as if I deliberated the decision at all – pfft,  I didn’t give it a second thought! I think I “asked” one of the professors, and they said it was a bad idea…and then I went ahead, and booked it all up anyways! I hadn’t ever been on a holiday with friends before, and the thought of a few days away with a few of my best’uns, had me in no doubt whatsoever…that this was a good idea!

We arrived at the ferry terminal early, we were well prepared – which is another way of saying; loaded up to the necks with alcohol, we only had to endure a couple of nights, but didn’t want to be either caught short…or worse, having to pay the extortionate rate on drinks at the ship’s bar. You are quite literally held hostage…in the middle of the sea, and have no choice but to shell out whatever they ask…it’s piracy basically, they are just less ARRRRR about it, and no one has a peg-leg, or a sharp hook for a hand. But still…pirates in the most underhand way! 

Anyway, there were four of us – and it was two to a room, so naturally there were some fights over who was with who…and after that was finished with, a fight over which room was the main room, so to speak. You know; the room where everything fun happens, and everyone congregates in for the partaaaayz (with a z to emphasise the  extra coolness)…people tried to give stupid excuses, but the fact is it’s easier to pass out in your own room…and depressing to leave a lively place, and enter a silent graveyard.

Still…you’ll have a cleaner toilet…so…hmmm…maybe I didn’t think it all the way through…

Never mind! Because soon we were all together, laughing, and drinking – I don’t know which we were doing more…the laughing, or the drinking – but both were seeing their fair share of action! I can’t even remember what was so funny now, but I still get the warm feeling looking back; something about a badger had me in stitches…and, errr…someone’s socks or something? What was it? Hmmm…well whatever it was, I couldn’t fucking breathe for giggling!

Laughing 70s GIF

The shenanigans were just getting started when there was a bang on the door…somebody with a name-badge, saying we had to keep it down…it was 8:00pm after all, and people were trying to sleep. (Huh?) We tried our best after this, but soon it became apparent that this would be impossible – this was back when I thought vodka mixed with something sweet was the best thing in the world – it isn’t, but after a few strong drinks you begin to believe your own bull-shit. Anyway, some bright spark said that we should go out on the top deck…that way we could be as loud as we wanted, and not bother anyone. Seemed like a stroke of genius! What wasn’t genius was one of my friends knocking on everyone’s door in the corridor as we headed out…”YOU FUCKING STUPID BASTAAARD!” I said, in one of those really loud-whispered screams, where you want to make it seem like you are shouting, but still want to do it quietly so as to avoid detection…I think he got the message, anyway – we fled the scene, and began to scarper up the metal steps to the deck…

There we serenaded the night away – sing-a-long, after sing-a-long – of whatever tune came to mind…we probably acted out a few Titanic scenes too, and definitely had many more laughs at each other’s expense. After all, that is what being real friends is all about!

The morning after was, well…rough. As we were leaving the ship some official looking types with shirts, and practical shoes said we had made a lot of noise last night, and they weren’t too happy about it…we didn’t have the energy to deal with it all, but tried to explain that we had went outside so as to avoid bothering people…everyone could still hear our singing somehow…I was a little offended, as honestly I thought I had been hitting some good notes, and particularly when it came to some of The Libertines tunes, I thought I had really shone. Suppose not. They stripped us of our passports, and said we’d get them back “if we were good.” We didn’t understand, but nodded, and moved on – hoping we would be able to sit down sometime soon.

That’s when we were shooed over to the far-side of the parking lot, and instructed to get on the coach that was set to take us to the town-center of Amsterdam…it was a harsh ride; we spoke largely in mumbles, and most of that was based around the subject of being sick – and how if the driver wasn’t swerving so madly – we’d be fine. As soon as we arrived, one of us immediately sprinted down a back alley…so we ran after him, thinking he was leading the way (he had been bragging the night before, about how he has been twice already)…when we caught up with him, he was hurling his guts up next to a cheese store. Maybe he was like, allergic to dairy? Yeah, probably not. Anyway, it took everything I had not to join him, as the faint foul flicker of stomach acid trickled up my nostrils…

But then I spotted a McDonalds, and all was forgotten! This would sort out the killer hangover! And it certainly did! Soon we were renewed, and replenished – and bounced out on to the streets for a good look around!

Regret Austin GIF

The cool guy strut didn’t last for long though, as I was nearly killed by an over-eager cyclist on every single street – before I knew it, I found myself walking a lot slower, and with a lot more caution than before! In other words I stopped stupidly meandering into the cyclist path…oh, the shame. 

Anyway, the “experienced” friend said we just had to see the Sex Museum so we did – but…honestly…no one has to see this place. Not ever. Oh my goodness, what an unnecessary pile of shit place it is! Just a load of bits, and pieces…cocks, and knobs, willies, and twinkles – jammed together in one place…I think it was supposed to be shocking or something, or overly vulgar for comedic effect – but seriously if you’ve seen it once, then this will probably bore you as much as it did me, (and I was 19 at the time!) It’s safe to say, that after this we were very suspicious of everything said friend said, we had to see.

To raise our spirits we visited a local cafe, where amongst other things you can buy these special cakes which have magical powers (or something). We sat for a while, and just relaxed…soon the positive spirit was back with us, and we began to find our sense of humour again. Mind we were a little tired, so much running around the night before…and then today, so busy…what with the coach, and err…the McDonalds…we had a little lie down on the couches, but this didn’t last for long. One of my friends wanted to have a discussion about a pressing issue, something that just couldn’t wait, something that I simply had to hear!

“Why did the cow jump over the moon? Like why? And…how? That is never explained…”

I didn’t really have an answer for that. Actually I didn’t have a fucking clue what he was even getting at, but I nodded politely all the same. But made sure to roll my eyes at one of my friends, so I could get his attention – and  start my own discussion with him…this one was really a pressing issue – not just some stupid cow-moon scenario. This one mattered – this one was important.

“Hey…hey…seriously though now – Martin Luther King was a fucking nice guy. Don’t tell me any different. He was a nice guy. People think he wasn’t…BUT HE WAS, AND THEY ARE WRONG.” 

Rock Proud GIF

This is what I can recall (ish), but the rest is lost in the fog. There was probably a lot more – but it will have just been along a similar theme…that he was nice, and no one knows it (pretty sure people widely agree he was nice, so not sure where I got that from…hmm…) Perhaps my friends got sick of me, or perhaps I had suggested it – but for whatever reason, we were back out on the street, looking for more sight-seeing spots. What actually happened was a lot of walking down the same streets, and circling around…and overall confusion. Where were we? And what were we supposed to be doing?  The cow jump over the moon friend was leading us…but to where?!

Now I must point out he isn’t the brightest in the world, God love him – but he started to explain that he had been leading us towards the red lights. Because “you follow the red lights, and end up in the red light district.” We laughed in his face (obviously!), and said that was the stupidest thing we had ever heard. And also, why did he even want to go there? I am no expert in those kinda things…but 2pm, really? He said he was intrigued…that’s all, just wanted to see the place…and with that he spotted another red-light, and was off on his way. It’s almost biblical isn’t it? Well no, it isn’t…but, yeah. 

We laughed, and considered just letting him go – and returning to the bus without him…but that little thing called guilt began to sneak in (dammmn youuuu!) and we ran to pull him back, in a bid to make him snap back to his senses, if at all possible. The lure of more food seemed to do the trick, just fine! Go figure, ey?  

It was a shame, but our trip was soon going to be over – and as we piled back on to the coach, we were able to reflect on the last couple of days…actually we just fell fast asleep…but still, reflecting on things sounds better.

Amsterdam Pic

 A few snap-shots I have just re-discovered! Please note my friend’s “hotmale” t-shirt he bought in one of the tourist shops – also note my fake smile (I was jealous that he spotted it first!)

Once we got back to England we were all exhausted…and it was mutually decided that the only thing that could remedy this, was a humongous breakfast…a colossal amount of bacon, and sausage…eggs…toast…mushrooms…whatever else you can find, throw it on a plate! Oh, and a cup of tea – milk, no sugars…because, you know – diet, and all that…we began to discuss everything that had went on, as you do…checking, and re-checking who had said what, re-opening certain situations, and moronically trying to defend our actions to one another.

I laughed so much that weekend, and things were certainly more simple back then – but at least I have the memory – and at least I now know, that most people do agree that Martin Luther King was a fucking nice guy. What a relief. 

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