Charles Nevin: Are you in search of your inner Santa?

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The Independent Online

Happy Monday. This week sees, among other things, the 75th anniversary of the foundation in Albion, New York, of the first Father Christmas training school. It is now based in Midland, Michigan: if you're interested, this year's course starts on 20 October and includes – this will sleigh you – "practice Santa flight lessons". Friday in 1846 saw the first tooth extraction with anaesthesia. Tuesday is the launch day of a new venture, Pro Dono, which allows you to meet famous people by donating to their charity. Those taking part include Geoffrey Boycott, Ann Widdecombe, Alastair Campbell and Nicholas Parsons. Splendid!



* I trust you, too, have been seized by Mr Cameron's brave campaign to put the Great back into Britain? Good: here's some top pride-making accomplishments for effortlessly countering the naysayers and scoffers who have so predictably sneered at this commendable attempt to restore some pride and squeeze more tourists in: 1. Jelly Babies were invented here in 1864. 2. Kate Winslet's acceptance speeches. 3. Late-night free shopping. 4. Napoleon, passing on his way to St Helena, pronounced Torquay "beau". 5. The corkscrew patented here in 1795. 6. Essex. 7. The mini roundabout. 8. The balaclava. 9. The box girder. 10. Custard powder.



* Two fine film actors were born around this time in 1913 and 1920 respectively: Trevor Howard and Walter Matthau. Howard is best remembered for Brief Encounter, that affecting model of duty agonisingly conquering desire between a doctor (Howard) and a housewife (Celia Johnson) after a chance meeting at a station. It has to be said, though, that the moral and morals so movingly involved were a little lost on Howard, who inquired at rehearsal: "Why doesn't he just go on and f... her?" And did you know that Walter Matthau got his break understudying Rex Harrison as Henry VIII? Remarkable.



* Actually, Trevor might have been interested in some other recent research revealing that male deep-sea squid mate indiscriminately with members of either sex because they can't see properly in the dark. And, finally, something to chew on from William Wrigley Jr, born 150 years ago on Friday: "Even in a little thing like a stick of gum, quality is important." Happy Monday.

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