The Third Leader: Festive cheer

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The Independent Online

Not long to go now. Reports of humbug incidents are slowing, although I note that a Weymouth motorist has been warned by police to change the red bulb in her seven-bulb festive display situated on the dashboard and powered from the cigarette lighter, while the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is warning that decorations will be responsible for 2,500 visits to hospital this year.

Myrrh, once used at funerals to mask the smell of burning corpses and now widely used in mouthwash, was displayed in a London pub by the Royal Society of Chemistry yesterday. Goats, already in trouble for being inappropriate gifts, are being blamed for killing Africa's frankincense forests with their overgrazing.

Goldman Sachs are paying out £8bn in bonuses to employees. Britons are expected to spend up to £9bn in the week before the holiday; overall, spending will be 12 per cent less than last year. More than 80 per cent of us will be giving sweets and chocolate.

In Preston, pantomime performers have been banned from throwing sweets into the audience in case they hit someone. In Worthing, it's for fear of allergies. It's also traditionally the time I tell you about the school Nativity play where the first king said, "I bring you gold"; the second king said, "I bring you myrrh"; and the third king said, "Here, Frank sent this".

Santa Claus had a pot plant thrown through his windscreen on a visit to Stockport. Percy, an eight-foot tall snowman at the entrance to the Blizzard Funderworld in Cardiff, has been stolen. A third of Britons include the names of their pets on their cards.

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