The Last Word: Santa orders Elf service cuts in UK

Christmas cheer thin on the ground as Government is made to pay for big fat lies over London 2012

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The Independent Online

The Chief Elf peered through the misted-up window of head office and trembled so violently the ringing of the bells on his boots caused alarm throughout the workshop. Santa's cheery pink countenance had turned an angry scarlet, his expression had changed from convivial to downright evil. Suddenly he was Ken Bates in ared costume.

Oh blimey, this was the last thing his lads needed. As it was, the elves were working their little baubles off. Christmas Eve was busy every year, of course, but the 2011 renewalwas proving particularly gruelling.

It was the British Olympic Potion that was disrupting the carefully choreographed workflow. How the Chief Elf wished he hadn't shredded the recipe which had produced so much success at the previous three Games. When he informed Santa of his error he thought that was it – he thought he'd be packed off to the House of Lords with all the other errant pixies. There was one last chance to rectify the situation.

"Pass me another Redgrave gold medal," said the Chief Elf, before chucking it into the large pot. "Now, give me three Hoy bicycle clips, two Dame Kelly vests and one signed photo of Lord Coe."

Boom! The giant saucepan startedbubbling and emitting green smoke, just as it had in years previous, and there was great rejoicing in the workshop. Until, that is, the office door swung open and an unmistakable voice bellowed out: "STOP!"

Elves scattered under desks and tools flew in every direction. "Stop making that potion immediately!" yelled Santa. "I've had a rethink."

"A rethink?" responded Papa Elf, his speech breaking into a quaver as he realised he was about to question He of the White Beard. "What d'you mean, 'a rethink'?We've been making this stuff all day and it's totally screwed up our schedule, not to mention our Christmas Eve. Don't you think we deservean explanation?"

A collective gasp went up as the elves took in their line manager's demand. Nobody had dared ask Santa for "an explanation" since Prancer had been dropped from the starting formation; and just look wherehe was now – the only employment he could find was as Lady Gaga'shatstand.

But amazingly, Santa said simply, "OK", before plonking his plentiful frame down on the foreman's giant leather chair to give the ChiefElf exactly what he'd requested. "Here's why the British will not be receiving their five-ringed potionthis Christmas Eve.

"I'll never forget the joy I spread by granting those long-suffering British sports fans the 11 gold medals in Sydney. After the awfulness of Atlanta – when only Pinsent and Redgrave prevailed – I thought I owed them something. And I couldn'ttake any more of Sue Barker going into orgasm about the prospect of a bronze in the double-trap shotgun.So in 2000, 2004 and 2008, I answered their prayers and sprinkled my magic over their competitors, all the while thinking that one day it would bepayback time.

"Coe even promised as much during that impassioned speech in Singapore in 2005 which persuaded the International Olympic Committee to vote for London 2012. He told us the Games would be used to inspire youngsters to take up sport and assume healthy celebrations.

"Yet here we are six years later and never have so many British children been fatter than me. Obesity is a huge problem among the youth, and it's little wonder a recent survey said that participation in Britain's major sports is actually down.

"How did that happen? They have the biggest sporting event arriving on their shores, and the excitement is such that little Johnnie and Mirandaare sitting on their sofas gobbling chocolates while playing on their PlayStations.

"No doubt their parents should share plenty of the burden, but the Government must have a plan in place to encourage involvement. Instead, the Tories have come to power, and one of their first acts was to announce drastic cuts – 64 per cent – to school sports budgets.

"Think about that for a second. In the one place where British children can be made to play sport, they've slashed the investment by almosttwo thirds.

"Of course, none of the politicians are to blame. The Department of Culture and Sport say the onus is on the Depart of Education – and vice versa. Meanwhile, that Prime Minister of theirs – that chap called Cameron, who I never should have given that mirror – orders £40 million extra to be spent on the opening and closing ceremonies.

"Wouldn't this money have been better invested in sport at the grass roots? But no, all Cameron and that Boris buffoon care about is how well the London Olympics go down globally – and how grand they are made to look.

"You can be sure than any British success will be met with a flurry of congratulations from all the relevant departments. I'm telling you, if political backslapping was an Olympic sport, Britain, or more to the point, England, would have no rival.

"So that's why we aren't to use that potion this time around. No disrespect to the athletes who have worked so hard for their dreams but, truly, the worst thing for the legacy of sport in Britain is for the host nation to clean up.

"An utterly false picture would be presented of the importance sport holds in a society which is rooted to its armchair, and the politicians would be able to spread their blather all over the crumbling facade to cover the cracks. While in the background school fields will continue to be sold off and the facilities will carry on decaying."

With that, Santa picked up his sack, filled it with presents and headed for his sleigh. "Now d'you see why I've had my rethink?" he said, slamming the door in fury.

"Phew!" exclaimed the Chief Elf. "That was all a bit heavy."

"But what to do with all this damned potion?" piped up the cheeky apprentice. "I know! There's a letter here from someone called Fabio in Wembley asking for an England victory at Euro 2012."

"Don't be daft," said the Chief Elf, emptying the priceless mixture down the sink. "This stuff is strong. But it ain't that damn strong."