My Secret Life: Father Christmas

Saint Nicholas of Myra is the main inspiration for the figure of Father Christmas, aka Santa Claus. He was a fourth-century bishop in Lycia, in modern-day Turkey. Nicholas was famous for presenting gifts to the poor, in particular providing the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes. Today's Father Christmas is more likely to give presents of a Nintendo Wii or Bratz. That's progress for you.



I drive: an eight-reindeer-power custom sleigh with the optional flying pack: glove warmer, 1,000-watt jingle generator and, of course, ABS.

If I have time to myself: I ho, ho, ho.

I wish I'd never worn: red with white piping. I blame the Coca-Cola corporation. OK, OK, I sometimes wore red before they got me on board, but this corporate sponsorship nonsense really restricts my sartorial creativity.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at: overcoming the laws of physics and delivering presents to all three billion under-16s on the same night without causing the universe to implode.

You may not know it but I'm no good at: the Boxing Day comedown.

Movie heaven: Bad Santa, starring Billy Bob Thornton (what a guy!), or Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is the story of my life.

Comfort eating: stale mince pies, washed down with the odd dusty glass of Harvey's Bristol Cream.

When I was a child: I wanted to be Spiderman but the costume was too tight.

All my money goes on: Old Holborn, Lagavulin and Top Gear magazines. Oh, and presents for the little children, says my agent.

At night I dream of: lying by a pool in Antigua on 25 December instead of flying at near light-speed around the world, falling down sooty chimneys and being chased by dribbling labradors.

My biggest regret: not patenting the whole present-delivery thing before I died AD343 and Amazon getting all the profits.

The best invention ever: internet shopping.

It's not fashionable but I like: beards. I thought of shaving it off but it keeps your face warm up here during those cold Lapland nights.

If I wasn't me I'd like to be: St Matthew, patron saint of accountants. There's no travel and the money's better.

The soundtrack to my life: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". If I had a penny for every time I heard that stupid song. Anyway, he isn't one of my eight reindeer. And whoever heard of a glowing red nose? Sounds like someone who was too fond of the old sauce.

As told to Mark Wilson

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